Why do cats purr?
Most cats purr from an early age. One harder and more often than the other. Certain (larger) felines can also purr, such as lions, cheetahs and cougars. It seems to us to be a sign that the cat is satisfied and enjoying something because a cat often purrs when you pet her. However, there are sometimes other reasons why cats purr. This is also the case with pain and fear and as a means of communication. What exactly causes the spin sound is not yet entirely clear.
There are several reasons why cats make the purring sound. Because all cats are different, some cats almost never purr and others almost all day long. A kitten of a few days old can already purr. Because the eyes are often not yet open, the kitten makes use of other senses. When the kitten hears the mother purr, the kitten mimics the mother.
The biggest reason cats purr is for satisfaction and pleasure. If the cat is in a nice place or is stroked by her owner, you will soon hear the throbbing sound. Also, a cat sometimes starts to purr when it notices that food is coming.
Pain and anxiety
Cats also purr when they are afraid, in pain, or when they feel threatened. It is therefore common for a cat to purr at the vet. Why this is not clear, but it is believed to have some sort of calming effect on cats. Just like when people laugh when they are nervous. The tension is then slightly reduced.
Cats communicate not only with each other by purring, but also with humans. They sometimes purr when you talk to them or when they want something from you, such as food.
Spiders also have a healing function in cats. Spinning is caused by a high frequency of vibrations. These seem to help with ailments, and also strengthen the bones of the cats. Cats therefore have a kind of self-healing mechanism that protects them to a certain extent against some ailments and diseases.
There is also some evidence that cats purr to indicate that they are not a threat. That you can safely touch them without them attacking you.
Difference from other felines
Not only domestic cats purr, but also larger cats such as lions, cheetahs and cougars. Guinea pigs can also produce the purring sounds. A big difference is that the common house cat can purr when inhaling and exhaling. Other felines can only do this when they exhale. The frequency of the purr is much higher in big cats than in the house cat.
How exactly the purring sound is produced in cats is not clear. There are several theories. A cat can make a spider sound by vibrating the larynx. The air supply would then be cut off several times per second by signals sent by the brain to the larynx. Another theory is that the cat can vibrate a large vein by contracting the muscles around the diaphragm.
Healing for people
In nursing and care homes, animals are often used to entertain the elderly. This is not for nothing. The purring sound of cats often also has a relaxing effect on people. In fact, studies show that the purring noise can reduce stress and lower blood pressure in humans. One study shows that cat owners have a 40% lower risk of heart attacks than people without cats.