Most felid species produce a purr like vocalization. In domestic cats, purring is most noticeable when an animal is nursing her kittens or when we humans provide social contact, be it from petting, stroking, feeding, or playing with kitty. Most people assume that a cat’s purr is an expression of pleasure or that it is meant to communicate with their young, with us humans, and with other cats. However, what many pet owners do not realize is that purring can also often be exhibited during the more stressful moments in a cat’s life.
Many cats often purr when under stress. Whether it be during a veterinarian visit, or when ill, injured, in labor, or near death. Cats might be heard purring. This has led many researchers to investigate how cats purr, however the mechanics of it all are still under debate and have many professionals and pet owners puzzled.
Scientists have demonstrated that cats produce their purr through intermittent signaling of the laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles. Cats purr during inhalation and exhalation with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25 and 150 hertz. Even more interesting is that many professionals have shown that sound frequencies in this range can also improve bone density and promote healing.
Since cats have adapted to conserve energy via long periods of rest and sleep, it is also possible that purring is a low energy mechanism that stimulates muscles and bones without a lot of energy. A cat’s purring could possibly alleviate the dysplasia or ostereoporotic conditions that are more common in dogs and other canines. While many may assume that cats purr simply because they are happy or content, it is more plausible that they purr as a means of communication and a potential source of self healing.