The Power of Purring
There is something incredibly soothing about a cat curled up in a cozy spot, basking in a sunbeam, purring. If you agree with this statement, then you aren’t the only one!
It is thought that a purring cat means that they are happy, but there are other reasons as well. Cats also purr when they are stressed as a self-soothing mechanism, to heal, and to communicate.
Scientists don’t know exactly how the purr is created, but the best guess is that purring starts with pressure building in the laryngeal muscles, causing a vibration. These vibrations separate the vocals cords, thus producing the audible purr. Cats can purr while inhaling and exhaling which allows them to create the consistent rumbling.
One of the most fascinating reasons that cats purr is to heal. A cat's purr has a frequency of 25-150 hertz which is known to be therapeutic for muscle, bone, and tendon repair, reduce inflammation, and improve breathing.
In fact, a cat’s purr is beneficial to their guardian’s health as well! The frequency of a purr is the same frequency that physical therapists use on human patients to promote wound healing. Being with a cat who is purring reduces blood pressure in humans.
A ten-year study from the University of Minnesota even found that cat owners were 30% less likely to die of a heart attack or suffer from a stroke than non-cat guardians!
Mother cats will purr when they are in labor to strengthen their kitten’s bones as they are going through the birth canal. They purr to repair their own damage during the labor process as well.
Cats will also purr if they have strained a muscle during an intense play session or hunt to soothe their muscles!
Cat guardians find their cat's purrs endearing, and with good reason! Watching a cat curled up in a cozy spot purring may put a smile on your face or even make you sleepy.
The explanation for the calming feeling that you may feel when relaxing with your cat is biophilia. This idea is the connection and positive feelings that we associate with life. Seeing a happy cat will make us feel content.
The presence of a calm cat can reduce our stress and lower our blood pressure!
Cats purr to communicate affection, contentment and stress. Cats might purr to self-sooth in stressful situations. More often cats will purr when they are content or seeking interaction with their guardians.
There is an additional purr that cats will use to convince their owners to give them something. This other purr is said to contain a meow sound in it, which has the same frequency of a child crying which plays on our innate need to answer to that frequency!
Purring is an important part of communication for cats. Kittens learn how to purr shortly after birth. Not only does purring increase the bond between mother and kittens, but it can actually make the mother nurse them longer!
Cats have the ability to comfort and heal themselves and their guardians with their amazing purrs! So, the next time your cat curls up on your lap, you can truly appreciate all that they offer!
Turner, D. C., & Bateson, P. P. (201). The domestic cat: The biology of its behaviour (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.