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Meow-zart: Shelter Helps Kitties De-stress With Classical Radio

cat in box
(Photo by Annika Cline - KJZZ)
A calico peers out of a box at Safe Haven for Animals shelter.

Some people get a little stressed this time of year, understandably so. You’ve got the holidays, family’s in town, maybe you want to make some New Year’s Resolutions ... or meet the ones you made this year.

Just a take a deep breath, and take a tip from some calm cats that have found their happy place with classical music.

Cats like Molly — she lives in a house in Scottsdale with about 60 roommates. Molly mostly hangs out in the bathroom, and her roomies prowl the rest of the digs. 

The house is actually a shelter called Safe Haven for Animals. And the vibe is very calm.

“We’ve been having them listen to classical music now for several months,” Constance Rossman said.

Rossman is one of their humans, also known as a volunteer. 

“It’s calmed the whole scene down so much in here that most of the cats don’t even need to be kenneled anymore,” she said “They can all just roam about, and they all get along really good.”

There are cats in closets, on counters, on top of the fridge, and in every room there’s a radio tuned to KBAQ 89.5, a classical music station and also KJZZ’s sister station.  

The overture from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide floats through the house.

“I mean before we had regular pop, and there was fights, there was hissing,” Rossman said.

And now, the low hum of purring provides a metronome for Mozart, Chopin and Wagner. 

So if you’re stressed out, maybe do what they do.

Stretch in a sun patch on the floor, or get all that energy out by chasing a laser pointer. Run on a wheel. 

And if people get on your nerves, just turn up the Chopin and pretend not to hear them.

You might find it difficult to adapt these tips to your life. Human stress is a little more complex than cat stress. 

“There’s a lot to be said about how we think about our stress,” said Sara Regester, a stress expert at Directions 4 Wellness.  

“What’s tricky about being a human being is we have free will. We have choice.”

Beyond the choice between eating kibble or scratching the couch. Regester said we get overwhelmed with all these choices and that causes stress. The first thing to do is change our mindset.

“Instead of saying, ‘I’m so busy, I’m so busy, I’m overwhelmed,’ you say ‘The time is now’ or ‘I go with the flow,’” Regester said.

Come up with a mantra — your own metronome to repeat during a busy day. Then at some point, stop. Take time for yourself. And don’t feel guilty doing it, Regester advises. 

“Because those little comforts are often what people say, ‘Oh I feel guilty when I’m sitting and reading a book.’ But some of these things are the way that we do find our own mindfulness.”

And that gives us more energy to tackle all the other stuff. So, indulge a little in a hobby.

The cats do.

If you’re still stressed, a long-term solution might be inviting in a “purrrsonal” stress coach — for a nominal fee of love and Meowmix.

Annika Cline was a producer for KJZZ's The Show from 2014 to 2019.