Yes, they’re happy, but that’s not always why they’re making sounds!
By Justyne Yuen-Lee
Don’t you love to hear a cat purr?
In my limited experience with cats, I have encountered more of the disgruntled-type kitties than the sit and purr in your lap-type kitties. The cats I know have an affinity for swatting my nose and hissing at me while I try to get close to them, but I do not let this discourage me. I do, however, know one cat who does brush against my face and purr affectionately. Unfortunately, he has a doggy brother who likes to have a monopoly on affection and puts himself right in the middle of the moment of love. I take what I can get.
But did you know that when a cat purrs, it’s not just because they’re content?
First things first, let’s figure out how they make this soothing sound.
How cats purr:
Purring comes from a combination of rapid movement of a cat’s voice box and movement from their diaphragm. The muscles move about 20-30 times a minute and like snowflakes, fingerprints, and DNA, every cat’s purr is unique.
What it means when they purr:
Cats purr as a means of communication. Like their doggy counterparts, cats have evolved to be domesticated pets and through their time with humans, have adapted appropriately. The “solicitation purr” is a hybrid of a purr and meow – cats do this purr when they want to be fed. They’ve learned to purr around the same frequency as a baby’s cry, as they’ve been able to observe parents respond to cries with food or some kind of attention like a tummy rub!