Cat Purring – How, When & Why do they do it?
Cat Purring! How do they do it?
Well as it turns out, that’s a difficult question to answer. There have been various theories in the past, but one of the more widely accepted theories now is that the sound is actually produced by laryngeal musclesW, which are responsible for moving the vocal cords and opening and closing the glottis (space between the cords). These muscles are sent signals by the cats brain or rather what is referred to as a ’neural oscillatorW’ in the brain. The muscles contract rapidly, opening and closing the glottisW. As the cat breathes the vibrating muscles and the glottis produce little noises at about 25-150 times a second. It is believed that the cat doesn’t necessarily control the process making a purr more a muscular twitch than a conscious vocalisation.
When do they do it?
It is widely accepted that cat purring is a sign of happiness and contentment a bit like the human smile. However just as we sometimes give a little smile when nervous or frightened, cats also purr when they feel such emotions. Equating the human smile with a cats purr is speculative theory but really does make sense. Apart from any emotional signals cats may be displaying with their purr it appears they have added a slick little twist to their repertoire. When cats are seeking food or attention they add a high pitch cry-meow to the mix. This Sound is quite specific and many people describe it as jarring and unpleasant. This also makes sense as they want your attention and the likelihood that they will be appeased with food to shut them up is after all what they are after.
Good for them!-Good for you?
Cats purr for a host of other reasons as well. They purr when in pain or when ill or injured. One theory suggests that the cat purring frequencyW is 25Hz and might offer a kind of built-in physical therapy. This frequency is also used in humans to help wounds heal faster. Cats do a great job of lowering stress and blood pressure, and cat purring may be a big part of that. The sound and penetrating vibration of purring promotes a sense of peacefulness calmness and feeling of well being and this in turn acts to relax the listener. So by simply keeping and loving your cat there may be big advantages to your health.