Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Cats’ purrs might be more than just a way to communicate though. Scientists like Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, a bioacoustics researcher, believe that cats also purr to heal themselves.
She says that frequencies between 24-140 vibrations per minute are therapeutic for bone growth, pain relief and wound healing. She recorded a variety of cat purrs, including those of domestic cats, ocelots, cheetahs and pumas, and discovered that the animals’ purrs all fit into the range for anabolic bone growth.
Purring isn’t just good for cats though — it’s also healthy for cat owners. Studies show that cats do a better job of relieving stress and lowering blood pressure than other pets. In fact, a 10-year study at the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that cat owners were 40 percent less likely to have heart attacks than non-cat owners — and purring might play a role in that.
“Purring is an auditory stimulus that people attribute to peacefulness and calmness," Dr. Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction, told WebMD. “That gives us positive reinforcement for what we’re doing and can contribute to the whole relaxation effect when we interact with our cats.”