That purrfect sound your cat makes when she’s on your lap or kneading you, that peaceful sensation you get when you’re pampering her and she thanks you with her purr…these are some of the reasons why you shall have a cat by your house. You’ve probably wondered, though, why does she do it and, most importantly, how? How can she spread that feeling of total relaxation and peace around when she’s purring? The thing is quite simple. We humans smile, our dogs like to wag their tails and cats, well…cats do a lot more other things, but they also purr. They’re mostly doing that when they are curled up in your lap, relaxed while you are stroking and pampering them. They feel safe, warm and so good that they want to tell you that by purring. But this behaviour is not only a signal of relaxation, it could also be an emotional response to pain or distress. Some cats can purr even when they’re giving birth, so purring is more of a relaxing mechanism for them, to help them cool down and loosen up.
Indeed, when they are only little kittens, they are purring to let their mother know they are there and need to eat, need attention, need pampering. Purring develops as a form of communication since early age for cats and it continues and develops into adulthood. Before laying down all the reasons a cat purrs, let’s see how she does it, first. Does she have a special apparatus that enables her to purr? Is it a special organ that emits that sort of vibration and relaxing tone?
How do cats purr?
Although it is hard to believe, cats have no real organ that is responsible for purring. The purr is the result of a fast movement of the cat’s larynx (the muscles of her voice box) and the diaphragm. Researches show that these muscles move about 20-30 times per second. That is quite impressive! The mechanism is quite simple. The cat breathes, the air that she inhales touches the vibrating muscles we were telling you about and the purr is produced. Each cat has a slightly different type of purr. Some purr in a very high pitched tones, others in more of a low rumble. Some cats make their purr so loud, while others keep it “hidden”, meaning you cannot really feel it.
Why do cats purr?
Let’s break down the reasons your cat purrs!
You know, she’s in that relaxing state, eyes half-closed, half-asleep, lazy movements…then that purr; it means she’s in a very happy mood and you are her favourite human. Go stroke her head and lie next to her! It will make you feel better as well.
2. Hungry or in need of something
She might start purring because you need to give her a treat, or just your attention. This type of purr is a very special one and it differentiate from the “usual one”. It’s a sort of purr and meow combination which cats use to get your utmost attention. Researches have shown that this kind of meow-purr really does get human to pay attention to their cats, much like the cry of a baby.
3. Connect with their mothers
Purr is a behaviour that kittens develop from a young age to communicate with their moms
4. Heal themselves
There are some theories that speak about cats purring to heal themselves. It is a sort of calming mechanism that can also help ease pain and even heal wounds, repair muscles, lessen swelling due to the vibrations that their purring muscles produce. They’re some great beings, them cats, don’t you think?