When it comes to sounds a cat makes, the purr is one of the most well known and loved. But why do cats purr? And what exactly is a cat purr? Let’s find out!

When a cat purrs it starts in its brain, sending messages through 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 an 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.

My Cat Doesn't Purr!

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 wildcat 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 whereas the smaller breeds, such as the house cat, savannah, and bobcat spend their lives hunting and living alone. 

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.

Purring Cats Benefit Humans Too

There are health benefits of a feline’s purr to the human body. Scientific studies involving sound frequencies have shown a cat’s purr to be beneficial to elderly people, stressed out adults, and babies. Why is that? The frequencies they produce in a purr calms a human’s nervous system, relaxes the muscles, and even helps heal bones and organs! Amazingly enough, the purr has been shown to help people suffering from arthritis too!

What's your favorite sound a cat makes?

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Catherine Matt
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Catherine Matt

The ability of a cat to purr is actually the primary reason i love cats. My cat does same and i value the effect of such a great company.