Click here to learn more.
It's no secret that caressing a purring
cat is a pleasurable experience — studies suggest it even lowers your blood pressure. But the mechanics of purring itself (to say nothing of the reasons why cats purr in the first place) remains a mystery.
The most common explanation is that a purr originates in the voice box with what are called the "vestibular folds," or false vocal cords. The passing of air across these structures is thought to get the engine running.
Cats purr when they're happy, but cats also purr if they're injured, while giving birth and even when dying. In his masterwork,
Catworld: A Feline Encyclopedia (Penguin Reference), British zoologist Desmond Morris has observed that purring is "a sign of friendship — either when (the cat) is contented with a friend or when it is in need of friendship — as with a cat in trouble." If you think about it, a purr is kind of like a smile: Sometimes you smile from happiness, sometimes from nerves.
As with a smile, there's no such thing as a purr that isn't welcome.
Cats know this themselves. Kittens start purring even before they open their eyes, rumbling while nursing with what must be a reassuring sound to their mother (who's likely purring herself).
It's pretty special that no big cat can get his motor running the way our household kitties can.
Cats purr as effortlessly as breathing, both in and out. In other words, your cat can do something even the biggest, most handsome and imposing Kings of the Jungle can't: Cats purr, lions don't! Sure, tigers can rumble a tiger-sized purr-like sound, but on the exhale only — and really, who wants a tiger sleeping on their bed, anyway?
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Nina Pham was declared free of Ebola
and will reunite with Bentley, her Cavalier
King Charles Spaniel, on Saturday.
As you garden this season, remember
that dangerous equipment and toxic
plants are two of many fall risks to pets.
Halloween can be a very stressful holiday
for dogs who are afraid of the doorbell,
but here’s how you can help them.
You wouldn’t hold your tarantula any
more than you would your goldfish, but
some species make fascinating pets.
We’re getting ready for Halloween
by sharing our favorite fan-submitted
photos of dogs and cats in costumes.
Known as one of the smartest dogs, the focused Border Collie has appeared in movies like Babe and Hotel for Dogs.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.