How cats purr

How and why do cats purr?

Although cats and humans have lived together for several thousand years, the purring of cats is still a mystery to humans in many ways. Many aspects of this have not yet been adequately researched. We have summarized the most important known facts about cats purring for you.

How does cats purr?

There are several thorias on how cats purr work. Science has not yet found a clear answer to the origin of the purr. Experts suspect it in one Interplay of muscular and neural processes, even if many details are still in the dark:

The Muscles in the cat's larynx can narrow or widen the glottis - the part of the larynx that surrounds the vocal cords. The resulting vibrations lead to each inhalation and exhalation Vibrationsthat we perceive as purring. The entire process is controlled by the cat's brain, which activates the larynx muscles through nerve impulses.

For example, another theory is that that Hyoid bone has something to do with the purr. So the purring is definitely a lotmore complexthan it first appears.

Why do cats purr?

Cats are already starting a few days after she was born with the purr. When they have found their mother's teat and drink milk, they signal to the cat mom with the purr, that everything is fine. Even the mother usually purrs to the babies To convey security. The kittens are likely to imitate their mother's behavior.

Adult cats also often purr in the company of other cats. So the purr has one social-interactive function and is also a Means of communication for cats. It is believed to be used in both other cats and humans.

Often times the purr is called that "Smile of the cat" as a sign that she is comfortable. But, in fact, cats purr in many different situations - it isn't necessarily a sign that the cat is satisfied. Cats purr in the following situations:

  • Cats purr when they do relaxed be petted by the owner or licked off by the partner cat, for example.
  • Cats often purr before they are fed - a kind of "anticipation" that is often accompanied by meows.
  • Cats often purr when they do dissatisfied are and would like to have their peace and quiet. As a rule, the purring is then accompanied by other body language signals such as the ears laid back or the wagging tail.
  • Cats purr when they do are stressed, be scared (e.g. at the vet) or if they be in pain and even often when they lying dying.

So cats can purr in almost any situation. Only in aggressive mood is apparently not purred. If you look at the different situations, it becomes clear: The purring of cats has something to do with it Relaxation To do: They purr in situations that they are already relaxed in as well as those in which they would like to be. When the cat is in fear, pain, or stress, the purr will try to calm and relax itself by purring.

Do cats purr to heal themselves?

The realization that cats use purring to relax raised the question of whether purring was used for? Self-healing in cats contributes. And indeed it has a purr healing effects:

Cats usually clock their purring frequency in the low range of about 26 Hertz. Studies have shown that in this frequency range theStimulates bone healing will and theBone density increasesIn fact, purring sets the entire cat skeleton in motion: Through the ongoingmechanical stimuli...

  • ... the metabolism in the bones is stimulated.
  • ... new bone formation cells are created.
  • ... tissue is repaired faster.

This is for our cats, who overslept most of the day and are usually only physically active when huntingContinuous vibration especially important to keep bones and muscles fit and flexible. But also with broken bones and internal injuries they have a supportive effect on the healing process and calm the cat in shock or stressful situations.

Presumably these self-healing powers were even thatoriginal function of purring until the communicative aspect was added in the course of evolution.

Purring is also good for us humans

Purring has positive effects not only for the cat itself. We humans also benefit in many ways from having a purring cat by our side:

  • The low frequency toneshas been shown to lower blood pressure and thus also the risk of heart attack.
  • The human brain responds to the purr by releasing serotonin, aFeel-good hormone.
  • The noise has a calming effect on people and can Relieve stress.
  • The bone-healing effect of purring also benefits osteoporosis patients and plays an important role in space research, where it can counteract the muscle wasting that often occurs in astronauts.

There is now even a recognized "cat purr therapy" that is used for osteoporpose and lung diseases.

My cat doesn't purr! Is she unhappy?

Some cat owners report that their cat doesn't purr. Her concern is often great: Is Kitty not feeling well, is she missing something? Fortunately, this concern is completely unfounded.

Some cats purr a lot and some don't. In a multi-cat household, the cat with the most self-confidence purrs less than its lower-ranking conspecifics - simply because it has no reason to do so.

If you have a purr-muffle at home and still don't want to do without the melodious sound, you will find numerous simulators on the Internet that imitate it (for example at There you can listen to the healing sounds alone or together with your cat.