Have You Wondered Why Your Cat Purrs?
9 April, 2013
Our cats have fun and funny gestures and each cat has different things that make him or her tick! Most cats purr when content or excited. But, don’t be surprised if your cat purrs for other reasons. My cat, Sammy, is not a big “purrer” while other cats purr simply by being touched.
Believe it or not, one of our most fascinating feline ways of communicating is still not completely understood by veterinarians today. Below are some theories and ideas of why our felines purr!
Purring is way for your cat to breathe with the mouth closed
Many veterinarians have different theories as to what might make our cats purr, although none have yet been proven. One theory is that purring is the result of electrical impulses generated in the brain that are transmitted through the central nervous system to muscles near the larynx (voice box) and diaphragm. The nerve impulses cause rhythmic contractions of these muscles during both inhalation and exhalation, while the cat’s mouth is closed. Vibrations are felt throughout the cat’s body, but are audible from the nose and mouth.
Purring is a way to help your cat’s bones!
Veterinarians have found that sound frequencies in this range may improve bone density and increase the efficiency of the circulatory system. This may promote healing while the cat expends minimal energy. Studies have also found that the cat’s brain releases endorphins (happy hormones) while purring.
Purring is a way to thank you for caring
Purring is used as both a greeting and as a care-soliciting signal. Purring signals friendly social interactions between cats and is used when cats approach each other, are resting together, groom one another, rub against each other, or touch noses. Kittens start purring when first nursing, and the mother purrs back to the kitten, both reassuring one another that “all is well.” Both are satisfied and content. Kittens can purr and nurse simultaneously, but cannot meow and nurse at the same time.
Purring can also occur when a cat is scared or injured
Believe it or not, purring also occurs in sick, injured, frightened—and even dying cats. Experts believe this is the “care-soliciting” form of the purr, communicating to others that the cat feels bad and that he or she is not a threat. If your cat looks or acts sick, but is purring, you should take him to your veterinarian for a complete check-up.
Purring is a way to release energy
When your cat purrs, it not only demonstrates that he is happy, but it is a way to release endorphins. When your cat’s endorphins are released, it gives your kitty an ‘up’ feeling similar to that when he or she inhales catnip. These endorphins help keep your cat healthy and wanting more interaction which is good for you and your cat! A happy cat will live longer.
Our cats are mysterious creatures. The reactions they have and the sounds they make are part of their genetic make up. And, purring is yet another one of those fun and interesting sounds.