Purring has always been a pleasing sound to cat lovers around the world, but why do they purr and what use it is to them? Lets start with what makes a purr, a purr. When a cat purrs it starts in its brain, sending messages though its neural oscillator to its laryngeal muscles. This causes a twitch to happen at the rate of 25 to 150 vibrational Hz per second. The vocal cords then separate and when the cat inhales and exhales, the sound of a purr can be heard. Amazing!
Why they purr is not exact science, but many believe it to be a form similar to that of a human’s smile. A human will smile when they are happy, nervous, scared or when they want something. A cat will purr in happiness, fear, begging and yes, when they are nervous too. This allows them to not only communicate with us, but also other cats around them.
Sadly, not all cats can purr. When we take a look at the larger breeds in the wild, such as lions, they are capable of roaring but not purring. Any wild cat that can roar does not have the ability to purr. The larger felines of the world do not have a need to purr as they typically are pack animals where as the smaller breeds, such as the house cat, savannah, and bob cat spend their life hunting and living alone. There are also other species of animals that do in fact purr, such at the raccoon, guinea pig, hyena and mongoose.
A further look into the purr of a feline, you will find different levels of emotion behind them. The higher frequencies of purrs are directed typically toward humans while the lower ones are directed toward other cats and animals. Also, the higher ones tend to signify happiness or wanting where the smaller ones signify nervousness and fear. Again, thinking of the smile of a human, they are very similar in that aspect.
It is also amazing to note the benefits of a feline’s purr to a human’s body. Scientific studies involving sound frequencies have shown a cat’s purr to be beneficial to elder people, stressed people and babies. Why is that? The frequencies they produce in a purr calms a human’s nerves, relaxes muscles and even helps heal bones and organs! Amazingly enough, the purr has been shown to help people suffering from arthritis too!