Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Thought of the Day: How Do Cats Purr?

So, as said in my very first post, and with evidence on my Instagram feed, it's easy to see that I love cats! I love my cat and she loves when I stroke and cuddle her. She often starts purring and I've thought about how it happens. Well! Today is the day I find out how the purring occurs and I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you!

Sleepy Kitty Tessy-Boo
I had a look on a few sites and it seems that the purring sound is made through the vocal chords opening and closing rapidly while the cat is breathing. The vocal chords are able to open and close due to the laryngeal muscles. The laryngeal muscles control the space in between the vocal chords and their movement is controlled from a signal from a neural oscillator in the cats brain. The neural oscillators are responsible for repetitive neural activities in the nervous system and this one is unique to purring cats. While the cats muscles are vibrating (at a rate between 25-150 vibrations per second) the air passing through their vocal chords is responsible for the sound of the purr. It seems that this is the only sound that the cat is able to make through both inhaling and exhaling, as other sounds, like their meows, are only available through exhaling.

And poser Moggy-Dog
Purring cats are unique too! Only cats that cannot roar can purr, and cats that can roar can't purr! This is because the structure around the larynx's of roaring cats are not sturdy or stiff enough to allow for the vibrations needed for purring!

There are many different thoughts and theories as to why cats purr, because since they can't talk, no one is completely certain on why they do it!
We usually associate their purring with them being happy and content. Cats purring is often compared to humans smiling, but sometimes when we smile we are not always happy, and this is the same for cats! While we mainly see cats purring when they are happy, they also purr when they feel threatened or unsure on whats going on. It's kind of the same as when we are nervous and laugh a little as we don't quite know what else to do.
Purring is also thought to help cats heal when they are hurt, because it is believed that it helps ease pain and speed up healing. At certain vibration frequencies it is also said to help bone regeneration and help the cats bones become more sturdy and strong.

There is also another reason for the little rumble coming from these cute creatures which is slightly more obvious. Communication! This links back to how they are feeling because it is a more easy way for us to understand what they want. Their purring also helps them communicate with their own species, however, as it helps create a bond between the mother and the kittens, sort of a reassurance mechanism, Maybe this is why they purr with humans that are close to them? As they see them as a mother figure? When kittens are born they are blind and deaf, but they are able to feel vibrations, so when their mother purrs the kittens are able to find their way to their mother for the care they require.

So there we have it! I've been wondering about cats purrs for a while now and now I finally know how it works, and have some reasons on why they do it. Maybe this will help me understand my cat better and help me understand how she is feeling! I hope you enjoyed this post, if there are any more facts about cats' purrs that I have missed (or if any information I have put in here that is wrong!) please feel free to let me know! I might keep up with other 'thought of the day' posts because I do tend to have lots of questions on random things and I do like to find out new things!
'Til next time!


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