Why and How Do Cats Purr?
How Cats Purr
- If a cat is feeling emotion, pain or is relaxed, its voice box --- the laryngeal muscles --- tightens and vibrates when the cat breathes in and out, creating the sound commonly known as purring. Cats purr between 25 and 150 mhz and because the vibrations occur on both the inhale and exhale, it's a continuous sound that can last hours.
Why Cats Purr
- Kittens are blind and deaf when they're born, so they follow the vibrations of the mother's purring to find comfort and food. From their second day of life, cats begin to purr when they're content or relaxed, and purring also acts as a self-soother when the cat is distressed or in pain.
Benefits to Cats
- While not scientifically proven, many people believe cats live such long lives because purring lowers the risk of bone and heart conditions. Purring stimulates muscles and bone growth, and cats who aren't overfed stay slim despite being sedentary creatures because purring acts as a gentle full-body workout. Cats can soothe their own pain and mental distress with purring, and cats have been known to purr even when they're dying.
Benefits to Humans
- Many people attest to the therapeutic effect of a cat's purring. A cat will sometimes arrange itself across a painful area of a human and purr, allowing the vibrations to reduce pain. The purring caused when stroking a cat is soothing and lowers anxiety, and some hospitals even allow cats as therapy animals. Purring has been known to lower blood pressure in humans.