Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Why do cats purr?

Have you ever wonder why do cats purr? This amazing behaviour also happens since it is still a newborn kitty.

Why do cats purr? This is what I've been thinking since I was a kid.

A purr is a sound made by some species of felines and is a part of cat communication. It varies in detail from cat to cat (e.g., loudness, tone, etc.), and from species to species, but can be characterized as a sort of tonal buzzing. All domestic cats purr in a frequency range of 22.4 to 30.2 hertz. Some cats purr so strongly that their entire bodies vibrate; conversely, other cats may purr so quietly that the only indication is a vibration felt when touching the cat's throat. In addition, some are able to meow or hiss without interrupting the purring sound.

Contentment, comfort or security... for many pet owners, the humming purr of a squinting cat is the unmistakable signal that their feline is happy and healthy.
  • In many ways this is true: behaviorists believe the original function of purring was to enable a kitten to tell his mother that "all is well." This often occurs during nursing. A kitten can't meow and nurse at the same time, but can purr and nurse without any problem. The mother often purrs back, reassuring the kitten using this tactile, resonant communication. This is why your cat purrs when petted, instinctively giving the signal "all is well," a message you can both feel and hear.

  • Older cats purr when they play or approach other cats, signaling they are friendly and want to come closer.

  • Cats also purr when they are distressed or afraid. Sick and injured cats, and those in veterinary offices often purr. It is thought that this is the cat's way of reassuring and calming herself.

Did you know?

When a cat is purring, it is almost impossible to hear the cat's heart or lungs very well, making examination of vital signs difficult. Oddly enough, many cats will stop purring if they're near the sound of running water. This is why you may see your veterinarian turning on the faucet in the exam room in an attempt to get your cat to stop purring - so your cat can get a better exam.

Sources: Doctors Foster and Smith & Wikipedia

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