Pawderosa Pet Care Blog

The Surprising Reasons Why Cats Purr

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some cats have a raspy purr, like an old boat motor, and others have a smooth and steady purr like the constant buzzing of a ceiling fan or a bumble bee. No matter what the unique tone, chances are you fall a bit more in love with your kitty when they're curled on your lap, purring away. That simple sound is just so soothing! But there's a lot more mystery to it than you may have realized. We'll tell you why.

 

Although scientists aren't exactly sure why cats purr, from observation, we can see that cats often purr when they're content and something feels good, such as a person's hand petting them. But what many pet owners don't realize is that there are many other reasons cat purr too!

 

"Some cats also purr when they're hungry, injured, or frightened. And most surprisingly, purring frequencies have been shown to stimulate bone regeneration—yes, bone regeneration." [wired.com]

 

Cats use their larynx and diaphragm muscles when they inhale and exhale to create a purr, but the way the nervous system "generates and controls those contractions isn't yet understood."

 

Although scientists aren't exactly sure why cats purr, from observation, we can see that cats often purr when they're content and something feels good, such as a person's hand petting them. But what many pet owners don't know is that there are many other reasons why cats purr, similar to how humans will laugh, cry, organize or distract themselves to release and soften the impact of emotions.

 

"Some veterinarians and cat enthusiasts have observed cats lying alongside each other and purring when one is injured (a behavior termed 'purr therapy')," [wired.com]

 

One reason they may do this is actually quite practical – to help heal the injury, since "domestic cats purr at a frequency of about 26 Hertz, in a range that promotes tissue regeneration." Additionally, purring even when there is no injury, increases bone density in the same way that exercising does. It's so effective that "purr-like vibration devices have been patented for potential use in therapy, and some researchers have proposed strapping vibrating plates to astronauts' feet during long space flights to retain bone density."

 

So why do they do it to begin with? Well, firstly to communicate to those "near and dear, since cats purr at a frequency and volume too low to travel far." But they also purr to soothe themselves, similar to how humans will laugh, cry, organize or distract themselves to release and soften the impact of emotions.

 

But there's more to it than communication. Interestingly, "some veterinarians and cat enthusiasts have observed cats lying alongside each other and purring when one is injured (a behavior termed 'purr therapy')." [wired.com]

 

One reason they may do this is actually quite practical – to help heal the injury; "Domestic cats purr at a frequency of about 26 Hertz, in a range that promotes tissue regeneration." Additionally, purring even when there is no injury, increases bone density in the same way that exercising does. In fact, it's so effective that "purr-like vibration devices have been patented for potential use in therapy, and some researchers have proposed strapping vibrating plates to astronauts' feet during long space flights to retain bone density."

 

So next time your cat purrs against your leg or greets you at the door with that familiar sound – keep in mind they could be hungry, happy, or simply keeping their bones healthy. A good comparison to the cat's purr is the human laugh – we do it for all sorts of reasons, from joy to surprise, to discomfort or to be polite, just to name a few.








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