Why Cats Purr

The cat’s meow? It’s the purr that’s complicated. Everyone knows that cats purr, but why do they make these unusual sounds?

My sister swears up and down that one of our cats has a “happy” purr versus an “annoyed” purr. Needless to say, we will probably never know if she is correct, but this is one animal noise that keeps owners and even researchers guessing. Many owners have to interpret what their pet means by this noise. Being a pet owner with five cats, I am no exception.

My sister may be on to something, I’ve discovered. We know cats purr when they’re happy. Veterinary professors are now suggesting that cats may purr when they are stressed as well. Cats often purr when they are constrained, such as when they’re in a kennel, and also when in stressful environments, like at the vet. Really, who wants to be in a doctor’s office?

In order to solve the riddle of a cat’s purr, scientists are looking at how exactly they make this noise. They’ve found it’s pretty complicated. However, in layman’s terms, a cat purrs by using muscles within its neck. Scientists think that purring is a type of low-energy exercise for the cat to stimulate its muscles and bones while not moving. This makes sense when the cat is in a place like a kennel. The cat cannot move around, but the muscles are being stimulated by the purring.

So, that’s the “how.” As for the “why,” one theory is that this exercise helps to keep cats fit and healthy. So, researchers are claiming that purring may be less of a signal to the owner on how the cat is feeling. Rather, purring could be a potential source of self-healing and exercise.

So maybe the cat’s purr is one clue to why cats have nine lives.

Do you understand your cat's purr? Tell us in the comment section!

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