Why cats purr: the main reasons for the reflex

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Why cats purr: the main reasons for the reflex

Purring is one of the mysteries of domestic cats. For a long time, scientists could not understand where this soft vibration accompanied by a characteristic sound comes from. It is also known that in addition to your fluffy pet, this talent has some big cats, in particular cougars and cheetahs. And now researchers have managed to explain something about this amazing behavior.

Live Science asked certified feline behavior consultant Mikel Delgado and Cornell University professor of veterinary medicine Katherine Anderson to tell the story. Science still doesn't fully understand the nature of purring, they said. "Ninety percent of the time, purring is positive. It means your cat is experiencing pleasure. She's happy, satisfied, and feels safe," Delgado says.

But studies show that cats purr for other reasons. One of them is survival. So kittens are born blind and deaf, but within days they start purring. Scientists believe that this is a safe signal that they give to their mother because loud noises in the wild can be heard not only by her but also by dangerous predators. The mother also communicates with the kittens by purring - they find her through this sound. Also, feline cubs purr while feeding, perhaps creating some sort of bond between the animals. When they grow up, this is how they show positive emotions during socialization. "They'll purr with another cat they're friends with," Anderson told me.

Another type of behavior that makes cats purr is when they are grooming each other. Domestic cats purr near people and dogs they know. Cats also purr when they are resting, eating, or even alone. Moreover, cats may purr to get what they want.

As Delgado explained, purring is a reflex, but cats can also exhibit this behavior intentionally. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Current Biology, cats give out a special "demand purr" to ask for food or to get a person out of bed. This purr contains higher-pitched sounds than usual, somewhat reminiscent of a baby's crying. According to Anderson, people do consider such purring a sign of something urgent from the cat.

Also, a fluffy cat's purring can provoke feelings of stress. For example, during a visit to the vet. Similarly, cats can react to pain with this behavior. Anderson shared that often injured cats who came to her for treatment purred. According to scientists, this may be a survival mechanism because it can help them calm down when they are sick, frightened, or dying.

Another idea is that purring may help cats recover. According to a 2001 study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, in the process, cats make sounds at frequencies of 20 to 150 hertz, similar to frequencies used in human treatments to speed bone and muscle healing and relieve pain. There is no conclusive evidence to support or refute this idea, however.

According to Delgado, in each case, the pet owner can determine for himself what exactly the reason his pet is purring. The pet's body language can help. If the cat purring looks happy and relaxed, it probably really enjoys the moment it shares with you.

OBOZREVATEL previously told you how to understand a cat's body language, in more detail.

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