Is there anything more relaxing than a cat purring in your lap?
Why do cats purr, anyway?
It’s a way of showing that they’re contented and happy, right? Well, not always. Research is showing that cats’ purrs are a lot more complex – and interesting – than we originally thought.
While purring is a natural behavior, it’s also a learned one. Kittens are born blind and deaf, but they can feel the vibrations from their mother’s purring and eventually learn to replicate it themselves.
And while cats do purr when they are happy, they may also purr when they are under stress as a sort of self-soothing mechanism. If you’ve ever been bitten by a cat that was purring, you probably misread the reason they were purring – they were trying to calm down from a stressful situation and weren’t already calm and relaxed.
The science behind a cat’s purr is even more fascinating than the reason they purr. For example, did you know that the lower vibration from a cat’s purrs can be correlated to bone growth? Scientists speculate that purring might actually have healing properties that cats are using to help themselves recover from injuries such as pain, swelling, broken bones, and strained muscles.
Even more interesting is that another frequency of a cat’s purr is remarkably similar to the frequency of a baby’s cry, leading some to believe that cats have developed the purr because it helps get them attention from people.
While not all small cats DO purr, all small cats CAN purr – and in wild cats, the difference between the big cats (such as lions and tigers) and small cats (such as the Lynx and Serval) is that small cats can only purr but not roar and large cats can only roar but not purr. That’s due to a difference in the vocal cords.
Last but not least, cats’ purrs seem to have positive effects on the humans who love them. Research has shown that people who are exposed to the sound of a cat’s purr automatically relax, lowering their blood pressure and stress levels.
And that right there is why cats are better than dogs!
(H/T: The Mercury News)