Purring is a very natural behavior for cats. It’s so natural that most people simply take it for granted. But if you’ve ever stopped and wondered exactly why cats purr, we’re going to answer that question for you in detail.
The Basics of Purring
Cats use their larynx and diaphragm to purr. Getting very scientific for a minute, a purr happens during both inhaling and exhaling, and with a vibrational frequency of between 25 and 150 Hertz. One interesting theory about the frequency at which cats purr is it can promote muscle and bone healing, as well as improving overall bone density. Vets often joke that “if a cat has a broken bone, it is likely to heal as long as the two pieces are in the same room.”
4 Situations When Cats May Purr
A simple but effective way to think about purring in cats is relating it to how humans laugh. While laughter is most often associated with a funny situation, it can also occur when someone is feeling nervous or another emotion. The same is true for cats.
The most common example of a cat purring is when it feels content. However, that’s just the first of several possible scenarios. Purring can also happen when a cat wants something. If your cat is hungry and wants a bowl of tasty cat food, it may purr until you respond by providing the food.
Just as humans can laugh when they’re nervous, there are cats who purr when they feel scared or distressed. This is most commonly found when a cat is getting medical attention in a vet hospital. You can ask anyone who works in this type of environment and chances are they will confirm hearing plenty of very loud purring from cats who are going to get treatment.
Another purring situation worth mentioning is when cats are just a few days old. Since kittens do this with their mothers and almost always get a response, it’s believed to be a form of bonding for the animals.
What About Problematic Purring?
Even though cats can purr in a variety of situations, it’s generally not something an owner would think of as a problem. The exception to that is when a cat purrs nonstop during a vet examination. The main issue this poses is purring may interfere with a vet’s ability to listen to the cat’s heartbeat. When this happens, vets are generally able to interrupt the purring long enough to do their job by either gently covering the cat’s nose for a few seconds, putting an alcohol dipped cotton ball close to the cat’s nose or placing the cat next to a sink with running water.
If you want to learn more about cats or dogs, be sure to browse through our blog for lots of other interesting information about pets.