Die Sprache der Katze – Teil 4: Das Schnurren

The language of the cat - Part 4: Purring

Cats have their own way of communicating. This magazine series is about interpreting cat behavior. Whether it's tail position, meowing or pupil shape - our tigers communicate a lot with us and we want to understand them better. The fourth part is about purring.  

One of the most typical behaviors of our tigers is purring. It is one of the most noticeable and recognizable sounds they can make. We humans are happy when we hear it, because it is well known that cats purr when they feel particularly good. However, it is important to know that cats don't just purr when they are happy. While contentment and relaxation are common reasons, there are also other situations in which a cat purrs. Sometimes purring is associated with fear or overwhelm. By paying attention to the nuances of purring and observing our cats' behavior, we may be able to better understand what's going on in their minds.

Why do cats purr?  

  • Well-being and relaxation: Purring is most commonly associated with a relaxed and happy cat. Cats often purr when they are petted, lying on our laps, or resting in a comfortable place. They show that they feel protected and secure. Even two cats grooming each other can purr.  
  • Self-healing and stress relief: It is believed that the vibrations produced when purring could have a healing effect on the cat's body. It is believed that these vibrations can improve bone strength, promote blood circulation and help release endorphins, which in turn reduces stress. So when the cat feels scared or stressed, it purrs to calm itself.  
  • Mother-child bond: Kittens can start purring shortly after birth - but it doesn't sound quite the same as adult tigers. Purring serves to attract the mother and create a close bond. At the same time, it helps kittens calm down and find security.  
  • Excitement : When you're about to feed your cat, he may be so excited that he starts purring.  
  • Prompt : Sometimes cats purr when they want something, such as food or affection. They often meow at the same time.  

Different purring  

There is not just one “one-size-fits-all” purr. Cats can purr in different ways. Some cats purr quietly and happily, while others purr loudly and intensely. In some cats you can't even hear the purr. You only notice it when you touch the cat's neck or throat and feel the vibrations. In some cases, purring can also be accompanied by other sounds, such as meowing or growling.  

Effects of cat purring on humans  

Our cats' purring has a calming sound to us and causes us to release serotonin. It's no surprise that there are YouTube videos in which you can listen to cats purring for hours and feel more relaxed as a result. These are also supposed to help you fall asleep. Studies have even found that cats' purring can have a positive effect on depression or cardiovascular disease in humans.  

The mechanics of cat purring  

The exact mechanics of purring are still not fully understood. One theory is that it is produced by rhythmic contractions of the muscles in the larynx and diaphragm. These contractions cause the glottis to open and close, producing the characteristic humming sound. Another theory assumes that the hard, non-stretchable hyoid bone causes the purring. This connects the tongue to the skull bone.  

Purring can occur in an impressive range of frequencies. To us humans it sounds like the same tone. In fact, when inhaling, the purr is shorter and louder at one frequency (27-40 hertz), while when exhaling it is slightly quieter and longer (16 to 28 hertz).  

Interestingly, only cats can purr. In addition to our domestic cats, lynxes, ocelots, pumas and cheetahs also purr. Other big cats, such as tigers and lions, can make purring sounds when they exhale, but do not sustain them.  

This really makes our tigers purr: our popular fillet food Glück ! With a mixture of fine chicken breast fillet and delicious salmon, it ensures healthy skin and a healthy coat thanks to high-quality proteins and healthy Omega 3 fatty acids.