Why Do Cats Purr? / by Caitlin Unsell

If you thought a cat’s purr was just a noise to signify their happiness level, think again. Purring actually has more benefits than you might think. While it holds true that cats purr because they’re happy, NEKO Cat Cafe got to the bottom of a number of other reasons why cats purr.

“The mystery has always been that cats that are in extremely adverse circumstances — like if they’re really sick, in pain or dying, will purr also,” explains Nicholas Dodman, head of the animal behavior clinic at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts, in a short video released by Tufts last year. 

Dodman speculates that cats purr while they’re in pain, because it helps them release endorphins, the body’s natural pain remedy. It’s just like how the human brain produces endorphins, when say, getting a paper cut or burnt by hot coffee.

Healing Powers

Even more interesting, “the vibrations from the sounds produced by purring are proven to heal broken bones and damage[d] tissue,” says Dr. Darla Rewers, DVM and owner of Ancient Arts Holistic Vet in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.

This is due to the frequency in which cats purr, which is anywhere between 24 and 140 Hertz (vibrations) per second. Aren’t cats magical?

Although Rewers says no one knows for sure, it’s also “thought that cats purr by synchronizing their heart and diaphragm so that the heart rate matches the breathing rate…They also purr as a method of self-soothing, a type of meditation.”

Do Other Animals Purr?

When you think about your standard kitty purr, you probably don’t think about other animals besides domestic cats sending off those “healing vibrations” Rewers mentions.  But did you know that animals like cheetahs, panthers and even raccoons can also also purr? 

What’s more, The Catnip Times writes in their article, The Purpose of Purring, that “[Animals] that roar, do not purr (lions and tigers). Those that purr, do not roar (bobcats and mountain lions).”

So next time you’re in Japan, or at NEKO Cat Cafe in Seattle, and you snuggle up next to a purring fur ball, think of the incredible power of the purr!

Photo Credit: Very G