I think you might take our purrs for granted sometimes, when actually they can have many different meanings depending upon who we are with! Purrs are one of the many sounds we make, yet it is often the least understood.
A Kitten’s Purr
Starting at birth, our mama cat will purr during birth, which is thought to relieve pain, but also to let her kittens feel her presence. Since we are born blind and deaf, we will only feel the vibrations of her purrs. In turn, we will start to purr in a few days to let her know where we are and when we are hungry! Purring and kneading will get the milk flowing!
Types of Purrs
Often purring is a sign of our contentment, but it can also indicate when we are nervous, in distress or in pain.
Some purrs are intended just for you – to get your attention when we want to be fed, but actually it is more of a combo of a purr and a meow. Mom says it’s like hearing your baby cry for food – and what parent can resist?!
Purrs can be barely audible or very loud depending upon our mood. And we have different purrs for different tribes…our human parents, our fellow cats, prey like mice and definitely for the canines!
And some of us almost never purr, while others are purr-machines!
What is a purr and what causes the sound you ask?
The purring sound comes from the larynx and the diaphragm and the rapid movement of these muscles that vibrate as we inhale and exhale. Our breath rushes past these muscles and the result is our purring sound.
Purring has holistic purposes as well as telegraphing our feelings and mood. The thought is that purring is a mechanism that helps us rest and helps healing from within. It is believed that purring will:
improve bone density and promote bone regeneration
lessen pain and reduce swelling
help repair tissue
It has been speculated that this might explain why us cats heal faster than dogs, even after surgery.
Purrs also have benefits for our humans too…it has been established that petting us and listening to our purrs has a calming effect that can lead to fewer strokes, less heart disease and maybe even a longer life!