Cats purr using their larynx and diaphragm muscles, both while breathing in and breathing out. Exactly how the central nervous system controls those contractions isn’t yet understood, but cat behaviorists can understand why a cat is purring and how they might be feeling.
Say you pick your cat up and she begins to purr; is she happy or nervous? Purring doesn’t always indicate contentment, just like when humans laugh, it doesn’t always mean we’re happy. Read on to learn more about the many reasons that cats purr.
This is the reason most people think cats purr. And it’s a pretty common reason, too! If your cat is totally relaxed and purring in your lap, odds are she’s feeling pretty content.
When a cat has no reason to be threatened and is in control, they are likely purring because they’re happy. The cat purr is essential the sound of a big, happy smile! Plus, since cat purrs are such a low, quiet sound, they are meant to be heard by those close to them. Your cat is communicating their contentment to you!
The sound of a cat purring is very soothing, right? When a cat is feeling anxious, they may be purring as a way to self-soothe. Think about the way we will try to soothe ourselves during a stressful situation by laughing, crying, or distracting ourselves by doing something with our hands, like organizing a desk. This type of purring is very much the same type of self-soothing behavior.
British researchers actually studied the sounds cats make when they’re hungry vs. when they’re full, and they found that the purrs cats make in these two cases are different! Cats will purr more urgently when they are hungry as a way of gently saying “feed me”!
Although this is less studied, cats have been observed laying next to an injured cat and purring as a way of performing “purr therapy”. Cats purr at a frequency of about 26 Hertz, which is in the range that promotes tissue regeneration. In fact, therapy devices have even been patented that use the same low frequency vibrations as a cat purr to promote therapeutic healing! Truly, the cat purr is a wonderfully dynamic cat behavior.
Get in Touch with the Catonsville Cat Clinic!
For 20 years, the Catonsville Cat Clinic has been providing quality veterinary care to the cats of Catonsville and beyond! Dr. Pam Nesbitt, who purchased the practice in July of 2011, runs the Catonsville Cat Clinic with compassion in mind. A team of professionals with an advanced level of veterinary medicine is at your service to make sure your cat is healthy and happy. So stop on by; we’d love to get to know you and your cat!
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