Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Why Do Cats Purr?

The reason why cats purr has been the subject of great debate among feline experts. At present, there is still no consensus regarding whether the behavior of purring is voluntary or involuntary.

Purring is generally understood to result from the vibration of vocal cords that is amplified by air pushed in and out by contractions of the diaphragm. Both domestic and wild cats (including big cats that do not roar) are known to purr. Kittens are capable of producing purrs within a day after they are born, often purring while suckling.

Purrs are one element of the murmur vocalization group, sounds that can be produced while the mouth is shut. Purrs are believed to communicate pleasure and contentment, but cats will also purr when they are frightened or ill, and some will even purr while delivering kittens. Some experts believe that during these latter, stressful situations, the purring may be an attempt to reduce stress. When cats purr in the presence of other unknown cats or kittens, purring may serve to convey submissiveness or a friendly intent.

Although we may never know exactly why cats purr, perhaps we can all agree that purring is a most pleasant sound, and that our cats must feel some contentment while making those light lulling rumbles.

Source: Healthy Pet Newsletter

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