There’s something calming and reassuring about hearing and feeling a cat purr. This is especially so if you happen to be petting your favorite feline at the time or they’re napping snugly on your lap while you both relax.
In fact, CatTime recommends this brush so you can give your kitty a little loving grooming session while you cuddle. You might even get some extra purrs!
But have you ever wondered how exactly it is that cats purr? What is that sound they’re making? What’s the precise science behind cats purring?
Let’s take a detailed look at how cats purr.
The Science Behind Cats Purring
First of all, there isn’t any totally definitive accepted theory explaining the science behind how cats purr.
Scientists in general believe that purring happens when a part of a cat’s brain tells the voice box muscles, which are known as laryngeal muscles, that they should start to vibrate.
This happens during the feline’s full respiratory cycle, including both inhaling and exhaling. So cats can still purr whether they’re breathing in or out.
For comparison, cats only meow during the exhalation stage, meaning when they breathe out.
Getting more technical, a cat’s laryngeal muscles are believed to receive signals from a neural oscillator, which is situated in the kitty’s brain.
This prompts the muscles to repeatedly open and close the cat’s glottis, a medical term for the space between the feline’s vocal chords. That, in turn, separates the vocal chords and allows the distinctive purring sound to happen.
The theory that a cat’s laryngeal muscles are the cause of purring is enhanced by studies that show that felines suffering from laryngeal paralysis unfortunately don’t seem to be able to purr.
Why Do Cats Purr?
Beyond the science, have you ever asked yourself why exactly it is that cats purr?
Again, there’s no definitive answer; although, purring is widely believed to be a sign that your cat is happy and contented.
Veterinarians have also noticed that kittens learn to purr only a couple of days after being born. When kittens purr, it’s believed to be a way of bonding with their mother cats. It helps convey a feeling of reassurance between both feline parties.
Of course, some cats purr when they are in pain or distress. If you believe your cat is showing signs of injury or illness, then get to the vet so they can give your kitty a checkup.
What do you love most about the way your cat purrs? Have you adopted a cat who purrs at funny times? Let us know in the comments below!