It’s no secret that cats purr. From cougars and wild cheetahs to tiny fuzzball kittens, almost all types of cats purr. It’s an unmistakable sign that everything is fine with the cat’s life. Think of the wagging of a dog’s tail. But wait! Scientists may have something different to tell you. According to them, purring doesn’t always mean that a cat is happy. There’s a ton of mystery surrounding this ubiquitous feline noise.
The Reason Behind Purring
Nobody knows for sure the process, reason, and meaning of a cat’s purr, but linking it with happiness would be a mistake. According to Tony Buffington, a veterinarian and cat expert at Ohio State University, the behaviors of any animal depend on context, history, and expectation. Thinking that cats purr only when they’re happy is naive, just like thinking we humans only laugh to express happiness. But in reality, we may laugh out of surprise or to ease tension. And just like that, purring can convey a wide range of emotions in cats. While most often, it signals happiness, sometimes it can indicate nervousness, agitation, fear, stress, or even pain.
The Healing Properties of Purring
Yes, it’s true! According to researchers and therapy scientists, a purr may have healing power. The vibration frequency causing the sound ranges from around 20Hz-150Hz, which can have a therapeutic effect. One 2001 paper pointed out that purr frequencies can correspond to electrical or vibrational frequencies used in treatments for wounds, joint flexibility, muscle strain, edema, pain, bone fractures, and dyspnea. It may sound far-fetched and studies are yet to confirm these effects on cats or humans. But experiments with low-intensity vibrations have proven to promote the growth of blood vessels and connective tissue in injured mice. Also, studies have shown that vibrational therapies at around 30 Hz frequencies can improve bone density in humans.