Knowing The Purr-pose: Why Do Cats Purr?

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The sound of cat purring is often perceived as a normal reaction when happy or hungry. Little do many of us know that this simple sound can be interpreted in many ways, and it can also affect humans positively as history dictates. Read on to know how we answer the familiar question “Why do cats purr?”

Somewhere in Cyprus more than a decade ago, a wild cat believed to be almost 10,000 years of age was found buried with a human. Prior to this, many have thought of the Egyptians to be the first in the world to treat cats as pets and worship them too. A war god in Egypt named Bastet was even pictured with a cat’s head on top of a woman’s body. Others who saw cats as sacred beings are the Norse farmers (they offered to cats for a fruitful harvest), the Chinese farmers (who asked for protection from Li-Shou the cat god for the fields to be free from mice), and the Polish (they have a cat god for protecting domesticated pets from evil spirits, named Ovinnik).

History has it then, that cats have been beneficial to our farmer ancestors. Until now, they are helping us in great ways as pets. Cat purring actually brings perks to both cats and humans who take good care of them.

Here’s what you need to know about cats and purring (as promised). We have more than one answer to “Why do cats purr?” and let us do the breakdown for you:

  • Scientifically speaking, there’s teamwork involving a cat’s brain, larynx and diaphragm. Laryngeal muscles are to cats as vocal chords are to humans. Cats get to “communicate” by purring when these muscles vibrate. Vibrations happen when working together with the diaphragmatic muscles upon getting the message from the feline brain’s neural oscillator. This is why purrs are created when cats breathe in and out.
  • Self-healing. A cat soothes itself too with its purrs, bearing the same de-stressing effect when humans hear it. Purring is like a coping mechanism for cats a.k.a. inappropriate purring, which leads to calming their nerves when they are nervous or sad, regenerating tissues in their bodies, and strengthening their bones and muscles in the same intensity exercise gives us the same kind of power (hence, being like Spiderman and jumping down from a high place can be effortless yet painless to our furry little friends). And similar to exercise, purring releases the “happy hormone” endorphins (take it from Elle Woods of the film Legally Blonde, where she declared that exercise gives endorphins and endorphins make us happy). Cats are so good at pain management thanks to these endorphins, that we can compare ourselves to them somehow when we feel that sense of fulfillment after a workout despite the body sores.

    Other instances where cats do inappropriate purring to self-heal are when they hear disturbing noises, are afraid, anxious or injured, give birth, feel sick or uncomfortable with major changes inside the house, or are close to death.
  • Bonding with their parents and human friends. Newborn kittens listen to their mommy’s purring in order to find, reach out and stay close to them since they are born blind. When they’re a few days older, kittens can already purr and use this skill while cuddling with their moms for milk flow stimulation.

    A cat’s purring when bonding with humans can be highly beneficial to the latter, because it can lessen heart attack risks, chances of insomnia, as well as promote joint mobility, bone and muscle healing and development, cure wounds and reduce swelling, tendon repair, and prevent or even heal breathing problems.

    Quality time with your cat a day can keep the doctor away.

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