Why Do Cats Purr?
“Puuurrrr, purrrrrr.....” - Oh, the sound of a happy kitty!
What makes my cat happiest is a good scratch underneath her chin. Whenever I do this, she instantly begins purring and I feel a sense of validation. Surely, this is an expression of her love and satisfaction! ...Right? Actually, I'm not 100% sure!
Should I really take purring to mean that my cat is happy?
Why do cats purr anyway?
Purring Expresses More Than Just Happiness
According to Leslie Lyons, assistant professor of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, a purring cat is often a pleased cat. Cats purr when we pet and feed them. In facts, any sort of positive social contact we make with our cat may encourage them to express their content.
However, most people probably don't realize that purring isn’t only used to show happiness. Cats purr during stressful times too! Next time you take your cat to the veterinarian, listen closely, and you’ll hear a faint, nervous rumble coming from your feline.
Cats may also purr while recovering from an injury. In fact, I’ve witnessed this with my own cat. She got into a brawl with a neighbor cat and the tip of her ear was severed. The next couple of days she purred constantly - no matter what was happening around her. And actually, considering new research, this makes perfect sense.
A Form of Self-Healing
Some investigators now believe purring helps promote muscle and bone growth. In support of this theory, they point out that sound frequencies between 25 and 150 Hz have been shown to improve bone density and encourage the healing process and a cat’s purr falls within this range. According to experts this explains why cats purr when they are injured - they aren’t feeling glad; they are trying to heal themselves!
This also might explain why cats can survive such big falls. After the fall, cats often purr to restore strength in their bones. While more research still needs to be done, it seems that cats purr to express a variety of things such as happiness, stress, and potentially self-healing.
When do YOU notice your cat purring?