She’s since gone on to that great scratching post in the sky, but for several years I was the proud and sometimes exasperated owner of a long-haired cat named Grimes. Great cat, Grimes. Unlike 97% of the felines I’ve met, she was exceptionally friendly and liked nothing more than sitting in my lap and purring while I read, or more likely, watched lame reality TV.
One of my favorite things about ol’ Grimey was her motor. I’ve never heard a cat purr so loudly. I looked around Yahoo! Answers and discovered there are a lot of questions from folks eager to know what, exactly, a purr sound is. So, I sharpened my claws and went in search of answers.
The Library of Congress explains that while nobody knows for sure why (or how) cats purr, “most scientists agree that the larynx (voice box), laryngeal muscles, and a neural oscillator are involved.” According to the LOC, kittens start purring when they are just a few days old. Some veterinarians believe that purring lets the kitten’s mom know that the newborn is OK.
Most folks believe that a cat only purrs when it is happy or content. Not so says PetPlace.com. Cats also purr when they are stressed or in pain. “Animal behaviorists believe that when cats purr under stressful circumstances, they are reassuring or comforting themselves, much as humans may sing to themselves or hum when they are nervous.”
There are a surprising number of studies and research papers on purring. Scientific American writes that “over the course of evolution, purring has probably offered some selective advantage to cats.” Additionally, researchers have found that cats purr with a frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz. “Sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing.”
So, there you have it. Most experts believe cats purr more for self healing and to relieve stress than out of joy. But I still have a related question I’d like to pose to the community: Why in the world do dogs turn around three times before sitting down? If you have an answer (or even a good theory) please leave a comment and link below.
Thanks for reading,
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