Why Does Your Cat Purr? ?
Anatomy of a Cat Purr
When you hear your cat purr you may well think that he/she is doing so because they are contented and whilst there is some truth in that belief there is a whole lot more to a cat purr than that. To better understand why your cat purrs it may be useful to understand how a cat purr is produced. The whole process starts in the brain with something called a repetitive neural oscillator. (bet your so glad I shared that fascinating snippet of info with you) which in turn causes the cats larynx muscles to twitch at up to 150 times per second. The upshot of this process being that as the animal breathes in and out the purring sound is made due to the vocal cords separating. It’s that simple, a neural signal from the pussy brain, a larynx and some vocal cords equals a cat purr.
So Why Does My Cat Purr?
Feline researches think that the domestic cat along with a few other animals that also have the ability to purr do it instead of roaring! OK, I know this sounds a bit odd but bear with me and I will enlighten you further. In their wild setting, larger cats such as lions and tigers use their roar to communicate their presence over large areas. It is speculated that they do this to protect their family units and warn off any rivals that may otherwise stray onto their hunting territory. The thinking follows that because many smaller animals including cats are solitary hunters and the completion for food is less they don’t have the need to be so vocal. Interestingly, the animals that purr cannot roar and neither can those that roar purr either. This is due to the structure (stiffness) of the tissue around the animals larynx.
When I hear My Cat Purr What Is He Saying?
There is a lot more going on here than meets the eye (or ear) when you hear your cat purr. There has been a whole bucket load of research done on the subject including the frequency and pitch of cats purring. It appears that they (cats) purr in all kinds of situations from being contented through to being afraid. Another neat trick the domestic moggie has learnt is to underlay its purr with a high frequency sound that mimics a human baby crying. It is a widely held belief that they have developed this talent as a tool to elicit feeding from humans. There has also been some interesting research that suggest that a cat will purr to heal itself. Its something to do with the speed of the vibrations being a perfect match with those needed to heal bone and relive pain. The great news is that this purring is also therapeutic for humans too in terms of both stress relief and preventative therapy. Some scientific studies have suggested that as well as lowering blood pressure cat owners are 40% less likely to suffer a heart attack. Well that makes purrfect sense to me and now you know a little more about the cat purr.