Why Do Cats Purr? The Unexpected Power of the Purr

Cat owners find it comforting when their cat purrs, they recognize that the cat is in a state of contentment. Yes, cat purring means happiness, but it could also mean that your cat’s hungry or healing. The purpose of a cat’s purr depends on how your cat is feeling Or what your cat needs. If your cat is happy, the purring signifies her contentment. When your cat is unsure or injured, you may also hear purring, but in this case, your cat will be purring for comfort and calmness. When cats are hungry, they may purr to attempt to obtain food from their humans. In this, they are taking advantage of a similar human response than is given when a baby cries.

It’s normal to hear a cat purring at a veterinarian’s office when the cat is not especially happy to be there. Your cat is probably scared and just trying to induce a sense of comfort. When it comes to healing, cats purr at a general frequency range of 25 to 100 HZ. Purring at this rate, cats can actually help their own bodies to recover from infections! On top of that, purring increases bone strength and can help to heal soft tissue injuries. Cats are faster at healing than humans and dogs, and purring is their leg up.

So why do cats purr? Well, they start purring when they are just kittens. During their nursing phase when still with their mother, cats purr to signify to their mothers that they are doing well. They purr because meowing and nursing at the same time would not work. Mothers signal back to the kittens by purring as well. It’s also not unusual for mothers to purr while giving birth to their kittens. Mothers could do this to relieve pain during the process.

Purring starts as a social indicator between mother and kitten. It doesn’t stop there, some adult cats continue to use purring to communicate well beyond kittenhood. If an adult cat approaches another cat and is purring, this means that the purring cat is sending a message of friendliness.

But how do cats purr? Some say it all starts in the brain, and functions in the manner of a neural message that’s repetitive. The neural message is sent over to the laryngeal muscles, and tells them to move in the vibration patterns we feel as purring. Purring works through the cat’s exhalations and inhalations, which is why you can see a cat’s chest moving up and down as purring occurs. Others say that purring starts in the nervous system as a response mechanism. While the origination ideas is different, the effect is the same. It all comes down to the larynx and the diaphragm.

Not all cats can purr though. Larger cats like lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars cannot actually purr. Instead, they roar. Why not both? Because, the hyoid bone is hardened in the domesticated cat. It’s not hardened in the roaring species of cats.

Cats purr to show that they are happy when you’re interacting with them, to try to obtain a need like food, and amazingly, to heal themselves. This incredible mechanism drives home just how complex cats are!