Notes from Jenny's Ark
Why Do Cats Purr?
Have you ever wondered why cats purr?
You are not alone. This question led to multiple studies to figure out why certain feline species purr.
While all species of cats cannot purr, the ones that can use it to communicate and to heal. Cheetahs, domestic cats, and even guinea pigs can purr. Domestic cats purr more than they meow, hiss or chirp – so find out what it means.
Is purring a sign of happiness?
Your kitty often purrs when you pet her, so you assume it is a sign of happiness. While it can be, there are other emotions expressed through purring. Some have compared purring to laughter in humans. People laugh when they are happy, but also when they are nervous.
Cats purr when they are happy, nervous, want something and to communicate with their young. The way to tell the difference between happiness and fear is by their body language. If your cat’s tail is swooshing then they are probably not happy.
Cats often purr when they are distressed, so you may hear them purring at the vet or when recovering from an injury. Purring is not only a means of communication but a way of healing.
What does it mean when a cat is purring?
So how do cats purr? Scientific American states, “Scientists have demonstrated that cats produce the purr through intermittent signaling of the laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles. Cats purr during both inhalation and exhalation with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz.”
Scientists have studied the frequencies of purring and concluded that it can help improve bone density and promote healing. The 24-140 vibrations per minute help repair tendons, heal wounds, ease breathing and lessen pain. Humans can also benefit from their cat’s purring.
Your kitty can help you relax and strengthen your bones by curling up in your lap and softly purring. The vibrations also help lower blood pressure and a study at the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that “cat owners are 40 percent less likely to have heart attacks than non-cat owners.”
Scientists believe that a cat’s ability to heal through purring has led to the nine lives myth. Cats can fall from extreme heights and manage to land on their feet unscathed. The secret is their lightning-fast reflexes, incredible dexterity and flexible spine. Not to mention, the built in self-healing purr.
Is there anything more soothing than the sound of a furry feline’s contented purr?
I don’t think so. And there are many others who agree. Research engineer and sound designer Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon, for one, isn’t only on the same page, she’s turned a cat’s purrs into a pleasing purr generation machine.
Just log on and turn up the purr. Pigeon’s software handles the rest and lets users test out different combinations of “sleepy” or “happy,” “steady” or “lively,” and “purrfect” or “meowy” to optimize their auditory experience.
“The sound of a purring cat is one of the most comforting sounds available and can help soothe and calm you down when you’re feeling stressed,” Pigeon writes. “Naturally, it’s not just the sound that is important, but it’s also the presence of the warm cuddly cat. Purrli tries to recreate both the sound and the presence of your very own virtual cat through a custom sound engine modeled after real purrs.”
Pigeon’s algorithmic rhythm even changes with time, mimicking the purr patterns of a real cat. Speaking of which, real cats are quite fond of the familiar sounds too.
The purr behind the page is a cat named Babouche. Pigeon’s Purrli Instagram page, purrlipurrs, maintains that Babouche’s dulcet tones provided the initial model for the various audio patterns.
“In the beginning, I thought a cat purr would be no more than a gimmick. Something fun, but probably useless,” Pigeon writes. “Many user testimonials later, I realize how wrong I was. Thanks to the interaction with cat purr fans, I have discovered the many uses of such a particular sound, and—here is the revelation—just how such a simple sound can brighten the day of many people around the world.” You can hear it for yourself here.
There are so many reasons why cats enhance our lives. Purring is just one of the gifts they give us.
Hi, I'm Jenny. I help people deepen their relationship with their pet by facilitating a conversation. What is your pet trying to tell you? What would you like to say to them?
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