Do All Cats Purr and Why?

Purring is a trademark of cats. Owners of domestic cats are exposed to the purring trait of the pet. Big cats Lions and Tigers are known to purr as well. Purring appears to be an innate behaviour as kittens will be heard purring a few hours after being born. The soft purring sound will be heard and the vibration in the cat’s body that is not unlike an idling diesel engine will be felt by the owner whenever the pet is cuddled. This experience gives the owner a wonderful feeling. Purring after all is usually a manifestation of the cat’s happiness and contentment. Because the cat’s purring is believed to have healing properties, people would intentionally cuddle the pet to hear its soft purring. All domestic cats have the ability to purr. Unfortunately, not all cat owners have the opportunity to hear their pets purring as some individuals are incapable of producing the purring sound due to health reasons. Cats with laryngeal paralysis for example cannot purr.

Cats do not have a different vocal anatomical feature. Yet other animals cannot make the purring sound cats make. Other felids can make sounds that resemble purring. Lions, tigers, jaguars are members of the cat family…they have the same anatomical features as domestic cats. Large cats like lions and tigers roar but they cannot purr like domestic cats. Indeed domestic cats are pretty special animals.

The purring of cats has been a topic of debate among scientists. Despite studies conducted, the definite reasons why and how cats purr is yet to be discovered. It is believed that the purring sound is created when blood rushes to the large vein in the heart. Another more popular and more accepted school of thought is that purring is produced by the vibration of the vocal chords. When cats breathe, the air that passes in and out of the lungs causes the vocal chords to vibrate. This theory was supported by the fact that cats with laryngeal paralysis cannot purr. Other sounds like meowing and screaming are made at the end of every breath. Cats have the amazing ability to purr even while breathing. Cats also have the ability to switch on and to switch off the purring sound. It seems that cats purr only when they want to.

Purring is always associated with the contentment of the cat. It is certainly satisfying to know that the efforts exerted in caring for the cat makes the pet happy and contented. As mentioned, laryngeal paralysis will prevent a cat from purring. This is a rather unfortunate condition for a cat owner. Not only because the owner will not be exposed to the pet’s expression of pleasure but also because she/he will not benefit from the healing properties of the cat’s purring, assuming they exist. Cats are now used as therapy animals because of this belief in purring as having healing properties. The purring sound is relaxing and the vibration is believed to promote healing changes in the body. It is reported that purring provides pain relief for owners suffering from migraine and arthritis and other chronic pains. Evidently purring creates frequencies that are ideal in promoting bone growth. Cats are not very energetic animals. Cats spend long hours lying down. The purring serves as a low energy mechanism that allows these animals to stimulate muscle and bone development without expending a lot of energies.

Purring is a means of communication that allows cats to make the owners aware of their happiness or pain. Cat owners have discovered that by cuddling a purring cat, the soothing purring sound would drive stress and pain away. Squeeze a cat today. (Courtesy Carey’sCats)

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