Purring is a mysterious mechanism. Unlike their ancestors, domestic cats can purr throughout their whole life.
And we are not sure where this sound comes from. This sweet purr, so poetic, finally reveals to be an excellent way of communication.
Vibrations or vocalizations? It’s one of the originalities of the cat!
The purring mechanism: good vibrations!
That mysterious sound is not fully explained yet. Behavioural specialists say it is vibrations rather than vocalizations. Two theories are being advanced:
- A rapid contraction of the muscles of the larynx: membranes behind the vocal cords vibrate and cause purring.
- Circulation of blood in the vena cava: the sound of blood passing through the diaphragm. This blood flow causes vibrations that are amplified by the respiratory tract.
Communication through purring
Cats know how to purr since they are small kittens. In fact, a kitten purrs since the first week of life. She doesn’t have all her senses developed and she naturally trusts in her mother’s purr to guide herself. It is actually her very first learning experience! Purring is the first thing she becomes aware of.
Cats purr to show various emotions. These can be positive (satisfaction, feeling of security) or reveal a deep uneasiness (illness).
Cats purr when they are petted, when they ask for food, when they are brushed, or even in the presence of catnip.
However, this purring does not always create a sense of well-being. Cats can purr when they are sick. It is a way for them to reassure, comfort and even cure themselves. The owner will have to be attentive to the slightest change in her cat’s behaviour.
Zoom on purr therapy: the new cat therapy !
The purr of a cat can calm us. It has been confirmed that having a cat significantly reduces stress. Indeed, her only presence reduces our heart rate and blood pressure.
So the cat has become our new therapist and has a destressing effect on our organism. This calming effect is possible thanks to the low frequency vibrations (20 to 50 hertz) of the purr that trigger emotions and a feeling of well-being for humans.
A purr therapy session from his home:
- Turn off all sound sources (television, radio, computer, phone).
- Turn down the brightness (turn off or limit the diffusion of light).
- Sit on your couch with your cat in your lap or in your arms.
- Pet your cat and listen to her purr.
- Breathe deeply and relax!
An article from Céline Taphaléchat.