Ever wondered why do cats purr? According to Bruce Fogle, a veterinarian with a keen interest in cat behavior and author of The Cat’s Mind, the original function of purring was to enable a kitten to tell his mother that “all is well.” This often occurs during nursing. A kitten cannot meow and nurse at the same time, but it can purr and nurse without any problem. The mother often purrs back, reassuring the kitten.

Older cats may purr when they play or approach other cats, signaling they are friendly and want to come closer. Cats also purr when they are contented, such as when they are petted, again giving the signal “all is well.”

Purring When Distressed

Strangely enough, cats can also purr when they are distressed. Sick and injured cats, and those in veterinary offices often purr. It is thought that this is the cat’s way of reassuring and calming itself.

A little known fact is that friendly cats that are in pain will purr when approached by people; this suggests that cats purr to show that they are friendly and approachable, ready to be stroked or helped.

When a cat is purring, it is almost impossible to hear the cat’s heart or lungs very well. Many cats will stop purring if they see running water from a faucet/tap. You may see your veterinarian turning on the faucet/tap in the examination room in an attempt to get your cat to stop purring so your cat can get a better examination!

How A Purring Cat Affects Humans

It is believed that the purr frequency of 25 – 150 hertz also acts as a healing mechanism for humans and if you are not feeling well, your cat’s purr might help you feel better. Some studies also suggest that people with high blood pressure have that pressure reduced if a cat sits in their laps and purrs. Cats typically de-stress their owners or those who like cats, resulting in a longer life span. They will also combat loneliness in those who live alone.

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