This crazy musical instrument was designed in 1650 by Athanasius Kircher, a 17th century German Jesuit scholar.
The piano was designed to raise the spirits of an Italian prince who was too stressed out. The musician would select cats whose voices were at different pitches then arrange them in the pens accordingly. The piano delivered sharp pokes into the tails of the cats.
In Michael Moorcock's Elric series, there is mentioned a chorus of eunuchs each trained to perfectly sing one note. I don't believe they needed to cued by poking or pounding.
As someone who has been clawed trying to shoo a cat downstairs against its will, I can take comfort in the fact that this non-ASPCA-approved instrument probably never actually was successfully used. Would your cat allow itself to be crammed into its little cage? Or stay in it once the poking began? Also, there are only 7 cats there, but 31 keys.