The Healing Purr

“Pet therapy is apparently gaining momentum in many medical communities,” writes Micaela Lacy for Daily Infographic.1

“According to a study by the Minnesota Stroke Institute that followed more than 4,000 cat owners over 10 years, owning a cat can dramatically reduce a person’s chance of dying from heart disease [source: Mundell],” notes Jane McGrath for Animal Planet. “Specifically, people who owned cats were 30 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack.” 2

The purring.org website “aims at summarizing what is currently known about (mostly) felid purring, i.e. the ‘trademark’ sound produced by most species of cats, only excluding four or five of the biggest cats, the so-called ‘roaring’ cats (lion, tiger, jaguar and leopard)”:

The term ‘purring’ has been used liberally in the mammal vocalization literature, and an exhaustive review is given in Peters (2002). Using a definition of purring that continuous sound production must alternate between pulmonic egressive and ingressive airstream (and usually go on for minutes), Peters (2002) reached the conclusion that until then only ‘purring cats’ (Felidae) and two species of genets (Viverridae sensu stricto), Genetta tigrina, and most likely also Genetta genetta, had been documented to purr.…

Below you find the observed frequency range[] of the…purring domestic cat described in Eklund, Peters & Duthie (2010), mapped onto an extended piano keyboard (the greyish octave to the left does not exist on modern pianos, but is added to the keyboard). The green colour indicates the frequency range of the purring, and the completely coloured key represents the mean value of the purring.3

domestic cat frequency range piano keyboard

“There is extensive documentation that suggests that low frequencies, at low intensity, are therapeutic,” reports the leaf lady.

Researchers believe that self-healing is the survival mechanism behind the purr.… These frequencies can aid bone growth, fracture healing, pain relief, tendon and muscle strength and repair, joint mobility, the reduction of swelling, and the relief of dyspnea, or breathlessness.

[Cats have] “purr frequencies between 20 Hz and 200 Hz. With the exception of the cheetah, which had frequencies ± 2 Hz from the rest, all the species had frequencies, notably 25 Hz, 50 Hz, 100 Hz, 125 Hz, and 150 Hz, that correspond exactly with the best frequencies determined by the most recent research for bone growth, fracture healing, pain relief, relief of breathlessness, and inflammation. All of the cats’ purrs, including the cheetah, had frequencies ±4 Hz from the entire repertoire of low frequencies known to be therapeutic for all of the ailments.…

cat purring waveform

Frequencies of 25 and 50 Hz are the best, and 100 Hz and 200 Hz the second best frequencies for promoting bone strength. Exposure to these signals elevates bone strength by approximately 30%, and increases the speed at which the fractures heal.4

“Vets, researchers, rescuers and owners have reported hearing cats purr continuously when they are distressed, chronically ill, in severe pain or when dying,” writes the MessyBeast.com cat website:

Female cats may purr while giving birth.…

Because the purr is linked to the release of endorphins in the brain, which are the body’s own pain-killers, the purr may be a side-effect.5


Sources

1 Micaela Lacy, “The Healing Power of Cat Purrs [infographic],” 21 July 2013, at http://dailyinfographic.com/the-healing-power-of-cat-purrs-infographic (retrieved: 25 January 2014).

2 Jane McGrath, “Can owning a pet help you live longer?” Animal Planet, at http://animal.discovery.com/pets/live-longer-with-a-pet.htm (retrieved: 25 January 2014).

3 Robert Eklund, PhD, MA, BA, Purring.org, at http://purring.org/ (retrieved: 25 January 2014).

4 “Bone-healing/Restorative ‘Purring Frequencies’,” theleaflady.org, at http://www.leaflady.org/purr.htm (retrieved: 25 January 2014).

5 “Cat Communication: The Purr,” MessyBeast.com, at http://www.messybeast.com/cat_talk3.htm (retrieved: 25 January 2014).

See also

Kevin J. Crosby, “Battle Cat”, SkewsMe.com, at http://skewsme.com/blog/2013/01/battle-cat/ (retrieved: 25 January 2014).










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