Why Do Cats Purr?
People have incorrectly presumed that purring is a sign of happiness or how cats communicate with their kittens. Stressful moments in a cat’s life may give researchers more insight than the moments when a cat is relaxed. The truth is that a cat will purr most when they are stressed, injured or in pain, such as when they are giving birth or visiting a veterinarian. This shows that not all purring cats are content or happy with the present environment. So continues the debate on not only how cats purr, but why.
Scientists are demonstrating that a purr is produced through periodic signaling of laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles. Purring results in both exhalation and inhalation, usually with a steady pattern and frequency somewhere between 25 and 150 Hertz. Studies have shown that frequencies in these ranges have been shown to promote healing and improve bone density.
The association between improved bone healing, muscle health and the frequencies of a cat’s purr is suggested to be helpful to humans. Astronauts especially have a genuine concern about muscle atrophy and bone density loss during prolonged exposure to zero gravity. Without the normal stresses of physical activity under Earths’ gravity, their musculo-skeletal systems weaken and lose posture control.
Cats are great at conserving energy during inactive time that go for long stretches. They stimulate bones and muscles without using much energy. It is no surprise that cats have earned the legend of having “nine lives”. There is even a veterinary tale of a cat being able to reassemble the bones of another cat when placed in a room with all of their parts. This feline mythology may be based off their ability to purr.
Fancy cat domestication and breeding is a relatively young practice compared to other species of pets. Because of this cats are not displaying as many abnormalities in their bones and muscles as the other common domesticated pet, the dog. Cat’s purring is believed to ease the syplasia or osteoporotic conditions that are found more often in their canid cousins. Though tempting to believe that a cat purrs because they are content, it is more likely that purring is a means of potential self-healing and communication.