I guess we know that our domestic cats can be stressed by noise. The signs are always there, there’s no missing them. Of course, noise also affects us. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) noise could have an impact on heart disease, diabetes, obesity, sleep disturbance, adverse birth outcomes and tinnitus. It’s been assessed that in Western Europe alone traffic noise results in an annual loss of “at least one million healthy years of life”.
About 20 years ago, for a period of time after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers, it was found that whales in the Bay of Fundy, off the north-east coast of North America, enjoyed markedly lower stress levels before they went back to normal again. They discovered this by analysing whale excrement to measure the concentrations of stress-related hormones.
The researchers concluded that whales suffer stress from the noise of aircraft and tankers because it impairs communication between each other. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks there was a suspension of ocean shipping and air traffic.
We have to remind ourselves that domestic cats have more sensitive hearing than ours at the higher frequencies. It’s hard for us to put ourselves into the shoes (metaphorically speaking) of our domestic cat companions. But perhaps even loud music and television or external noise can put them at a health risk.
Certain sounds can cause seizures in cats. In general, there is a growing body of evidence that noise above a certain dB level can pose a serious risk to physical and mental health and we have to include our companion animals in that statement.