When you rub your bacteria-covered hands across your cat’s fur you either get that lovely purring noise or a set of claws dug into your skin. When it’s the former, it’s not always what you think, according to new research. Some experts — aka serious cat people — believe purring is a complex language that can communicate everything from pleasure to anxiety to hunger to injury.
A cat’s purr is created by muscle contractions in the larynx and diaphragm as the cat inhales and exhales. The frequency of the average purr is between 25 and 150 Hertz. This is significant because sound waves at this frequency have been shown to be medically therapeutic in a variety of ways, including promoting bone and tissue regeneration. There is speculation that cats may have developed the purr as a means to heal themselves when injured in the wild.
Whatever your cat’s purring about, humans enjoy the sound — and owning a cat. Cat owners have decreased risk of heart attack (by up to 40 percent), can improve breathing in people with dyspnea, and relieve stress and lower blood pressure. Even cooler, purring promotes bone strength and heals soft tissue injuries, infections, and swelling.