Sitting quietly one evening I suddenly realised what I had been missing. They do say you don’t always know what you haven’t got until it arrives! Well it did.

Although the vet has now confirmed that Smudge has lost his eye, therefore will continue to adapt to seeing through the one he has, and who is now doing wonderfully well, was sitting on my lap one evening; when he started to purr! I looked at him in surprise and realised it was the first time, since he arrived all those weeks ago, that he had purred. What a special little sound.

He’s a chatty cat, so it wasn’t like that past weeks had been quiet. He often participates in our conversations with an ‘urf’ or an ‘arf’. … but purring!

So I went onto Google to try and understand the reason he hadn’t purred before. As always interesting reading! Wikipedia, always my first port of call, says that the strict definition of purring is a ‘continuous sound production must alternate between pulmonic egressive and ingressive airstream, which usually goes on for minutes. In the research that I read, it was confirmed that no-one really knows how a cat purrs, and the reason for this is partly because the cat has no unique anatomical feature that is clearly responsible for the sound.

In my search to try and understand why Smudge hadn’t been purring, and why suddenly he started (and hasn’t stopped); let me to discover that no-one really knows why cats purr. I always thought it was because they were displaying that they were happy; but there are a number of reasons that have been speculated upon:

  • German ethologist and cat behaviorist Paul Leyhausen says that it is a signal that the animal is not posing a threat.
  • Cats become relaxed.
  • Female cats have been known to purr when they are giving birth.
  • A bonding communication between mother cats and nursing kittens.
  • The University of Sussex produced their results of science research in 2009 and they believe that cats could be communicating that they want to be fed.
  • Research shows that maybe a cat’s brain releases a hormone when it purrs, which helps it to relax and acts as a pain killer.
  • The University of California, Davis produced their results of science research and they believe that it has something to do with the consistent pattern and frequency of around 25 Hz that helps improve bone density and promotes healing.

One of the websites I read published in 2003 the statement ‘Although it is tempting to state that cats purr because they are happy, it is more plausible that cat purring is a means of communication and a potential source of self-healing.’

Whatever the reason cats purr, it’s interesting how relaxing it sounds when they do. Sitting quietly on the sofa at night with three purring cats, no thoughts running through your mind, creates a relaxing and calming environment. :)

© 2012 Barbara J. Cormack
First published under Cormack’s Capers in Magna Intuitum