Coronavirus: Soothing sounds for cats stuck at shelters

Cat with speaker Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Cats at Mitcham Homing Centre in south London enjoy sounds such as rainfall and birdsong

Stressed-out cats at a London animal shelter are being played soothing sounds of nature to keep them calm.

MP3 players in the cats' pens play sounds such as rainfall and birdsong.

Staff at the Mitcham Homing Centre also use a soundtrack of everyday noises such as sneezing, laughing and coughing.

The centre says as well as relaxing the felines, this will prepare them for when the coronavirus lockdown is over and they can be found new homes.

Senior cat care assistant Jane Francis said: "I felt that stimulating as many senses and natural behaviours as possible, without overloading them, could only be beneficial for the cats, especially the more sociable ones, and kittens who are still learning about the world around them."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Cats at shelters have been cut off like the rest of the country during the Covid-19 crisis

Ms Francis continued: "We have noticed that the cats, and especially kittens, seem to flourish and become more confident after the introduction of sounds.

"I know that some people would probably opt for classical music but I thought it would be good to keep it natural and realistic.

"So I downloaded ambient sounds, such as birdsong, rain, trickling streams and general garden sounds and the cats loved them. Nature and even weather conditions prove the best.

"Sound levels are low and they mimic being out in the garden with birds chirping or rain falling, which the cats will experience naturally when they eventually find their new forever homes, and they would have heard before coming into care."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Grass has been put into the cats' pens to "complete the outdoor theme"

Other sounds the charity uses include noise from letterboxes, washing machines and lawnmowers.

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