Why do Cats Purr?
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According to statistics from the National Identification File for Domestic Carnivorous Animals (I-Cad), the number of tattooed cats in Canada was 7,114,417 in 2018.
But as one cat in two is not always identified, the organization estimates the number of tomcats at about 13 million for the whole of Canada.
This is mainly due to the fact that these animals are particularly endearing and that the possession of such an animal has long been part of our customs.
The presence of this feline in our daily life has led each of us to hear, at least once, this so particular vocalization called purring.
This article reveals a part of the mystery that hangs over our kittens: why do cats purr?
1- The origins of the cat's purr
You've probably noticed that when you pet your cat, she starts to purr. Scientists are divided as to the origin of the cat's purr.
For some, it comes from the vibration of an elastic ligament that connects the clavicle bone to the animal's throat.
Others believe that it is the skin flaps near the animal's vocal cords that produce the characteristic sound.
Current research is tending towards the latter hypothesis.
We would like to point out that this phenomenon occurs both on inhalation and exhalation. This is what distinguishes felids from other mammals that produce sounds only when they breathe out.
When we talk about felids, we think mainly of cats, cougars, lynx, cheetahs and ocelots.
In the special case of big felines such as lions, tigers and leopards, they can sometimes emit short whistles during exhalation.
However, they are unable to do so for long periods of time.
2- A phenomenon that reflects well-being
When you watch your four-legged friend purring in a place where he feels comfortable, such as a cat hammock, you feel like it's easy for him.
But, in reality, purring requires a tremendous amount of physical effort on his part. And you can imagine that the cat has to "train" himself to purr.
Perhaps you've noticed that young kittens a few hours old already know how to purr when they drink their mother's milk?
However, the sounds they produce are not yet identical to those of their parents. They must therefore learn to purr from their parents.
Now it's time to learn more about the meaning of the cat's purr. Specialists believe that it is above all the translation of a feeling of happiness on the part of the feline.
Indeed, the purr appears when you caress him or give him pleasant care. But it can also purr when it's waiting for its food and knows you're going to comply.
Thus, it is first of all because he is happy that the cat is purring.
3- A way to communicate
Have you noticed that the cat starts purring in the cat beds when she gives her kittens to suckle?
Purring is also a means of communication between the kitten and its mother. Indeed, this soft sound brings confidence to the litter and calms the little kittens during feeding.
Afterwards, as the kitten grows up and becomes attached to you, it uses the purr to communicate with you.
4- Cats also purr when they are nervous.
However, it is wrong to believe that your cat is happy every time he purrs! Indeed, your furry companion sometimes purrs when he is nervous or worried.
This is the case when you take him to the vet and he is being examined. Since the specialist is a stranger to him, he is a little worried.
Your pet may also purr when he asks you to fill his bowl when he is hungry. He therefore translates this inferior position into a purring.
Some owners of tomcats were also surprised when their favorite animal started scratching them while purring!
This means that a bout of stress can also lead him to do so. We therefore advise you to focus your attention on certain points that betray his mood.
These include his gaze, his posture, the position of his ears and the position of his tail.
In some cases, you will see him lying in cat beds and baskets, with all four paws in the air, eyes closed and purring non-stop. In this case, you can be sure that he is happy and that he does not hesitate to show it.
5- The benefits of purring for cats
Whether he is purring because he is happy or because he is stressed, purring brings benefits to the cat as well as to the other felines around him.
In fact, several scientific studies have shown that purring has the gift of soothing and calming our fur ball. And this, in spite of the fact that it can be injured or simply be in a weakened situation.
Moreover, when a cat begins to purr, it also reassures the other cats around it.
This is particularly the case of the cat whose production of this vibration soothes her cubs and informs them of the absence of danger.
Furthermore, when the animal is in a stressful or painful situation, we tell you that it also starts to purr. Why does it purr? The vibrations thus emitted will stress the Pacini's corpuscles which are on the surface of its skin.
These are sensory receptors that trigger the production of endorphins. These receptors can help your tomcat to recover from the pain and even recover from his illness.
On the other hand, the purr would also have the capacity to strengthen the bones of your hairball.
Indeed, it is emitted on different frequencies. According to some specialists, one of these frequencies is believed to stimulate the regeneration of the tissues surrounding the bones. It is the 26 Hz frequency.
6- The benefits of the cat's purr for his mistress
You may not have expected it, but the purr of your cat in its cat basket is also beneficial for you.
In fact, some studies show that the cat's purr has a stress-relieving effect on humans.
This means that when you take care of your four-legged friend and he starts to purr, it brings you various benefits.
These include a slower heart rate and breathing, lower blood pressure, etc.
In a word, you are also Zen! That's why some retirement homes adopt felines to keep company and at the same time offer comfort to the seniors who live there.
Also with this in mind, "cat bars" have appeared in Japan to allow the public to take advantage of the stress-relieving function of the cat's purr.
This concept has reached as far as France and is increasingly successful. This is what the initiates call "purr therapy".
You will find cats comfortably installed in cat hammocks or in beds, accustomed to human presence.
7- Why is your cat not purring?
Your favorite pet is quietly settled in a cat bed, and yet it doesn't purr? Or does it only purr while enjoying its food?
Rest assured, this is not an isolated case. First of all, you should know that when he purrs while eating, your tomcat probably remembers his childhood.
Then, it is possible that he was weaned too early or that he has a somewhat wild temperament. This leads him to purr only very rarely.
But this does not mean that he is unhappy or that he suffers from any pathology! Most of the time, as time goes by, your hairball will learn to purr.
While waiting for that moment to come, you can count on him to communicate with you by other means.
You can help it do this by offering it optimal comfort. For example, you can buy him a cat hammock where he'll feel comfortable and where he'll bask when you're away from home.
It is also possible to buy him different games so that he can have fun and stretch his legs at the same time.
The cat tree is the ideal accessory, no matter how old your four-legged friend is, because a feline needs to move, jump, move, etc.
Also, don't hesitate to talk to it, as you do with a human being. The sound of your voice will reassure him and put him at ease.
As your cat becomes more confident, he will try to purr, as if he were with his mother. Keep in mind that this may take some time.
However, if you have taken the trouble to adopt a cat, it is to give him all the love and affection he needs. So, if you take him on your lap, quietly settled in your couch, you will be able to share a good moment with your pet.
And even if your tomcat isn't purring yet, he's sure to feel safe and happy.