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‘Purr’fection

It has been determined that people that have a feline as a companion do so because they want to have a companion but they don’t necessarily want to be tied down to their furry friend. Cats are independent souls and so are those that love them.

Listen, your cat is speaking.
Alan Weaver

People that have canines know what their dog is thinking because a dog is an open book of emotions. Cats are a bit more complicated in that they don’t always communicate with their human counterparts – if at all.

Cats do have ways to communicate – when they chose to utilize them. When a cat purrs, they are communicating with us and with each other. Purring is also a form of self-healing. Did you know that cats also purr when they are frightened or feel threatened?

The Mother Nature Network (MNN) quoted Veterinarian Kelly Morgan about a cat’s purr and she equates a cat’s method of communication to people’s smiles. “People will smile when they’re nervous, when they want something, and when they’re happy, so perhaps the purr can also be an appeasing gesture,” Morgan told WebMD.

Research has proven that a cat’s purr begins in its brain when the cat’s repetitive neural oscillator sends messages to the laryngeal muscles, causing them to twitch at a rate of 25 to 150 vibrations per second. The vibrations cause the vocal cords to separate when the cat inhales and exhales thus produces the sound we know as a purr.

Cats purr (according to the website: http://www.cathealth.com/how-and-why/why-and-how-do-cats-purr):

  1. To express contentment
  2. As a distress signal during painful or frightening situations
  3. To convey non-aggression
  4. To comfort, calm, and heal themselves and others

Some wild cats do not purr though. Since cats domesticated themselves, they also developed this method of communication so as to allow those around them to kind of realize what the cat is feeling when it purrs. This sound is evidence that cats do try (although deep down they really do care less if we are elated about this attempt to communicate or not); they chose to purr for themselves.

The MNN also revealed some important information about research conducted at the University of Sussex which showed that domestic cats can hide a plaintive cry within their purrs that irritates their humans while appealing to their nurturing instincts.

The team examined the sound spectrum of 10 cats’ purrs and found an unusual peak in the 220- to 520-hertz frequency range embedded in the lower frequencies of the usual purr. Babies' cries have a similar frequency range at 300 to 600 hertz. Karen McComb, who headed the study, says cats may be exploiting “innate tendencies in humans to respond to cry-like sounds in the context of nurturing offspring.”

Cats are intelligent creatures. They use their purrs for many purposes; the least of these is simple communication. So, the next time your cat lets out that low, slow rumble, see if they are happy or if they are warning you that they have had a really bad day and you are the focus of their discontent. Paying attention may just serve you well!