I am a cat fan. Except for a few short periods, there’s always been a cat in my life, oftentimes several. Each of them has had their distinct, delightful personality. I love the cat’s independent spirit and the softness of their fur, however, the most wonderful attribute a cat possesses is its purr.
The purr. What an incredible sound, unique to the feline. Both domesticated and wild cats purr, yet no other animals create such a sound. It can be loud and rumbling or soft and barely perceptible. A purr most often communicates contentment but has also been documented when the cat is hungry, sick, or, inexplicably, about to die.
The origin of the purr within a cat’s body has been widely debated, and I’m not convinced the answer has been found. Current thinking among researchers is that purring is actually caused by rapid vibrations in the muscles of the larynx and the diaphragm working in sequence. First the larynx muscle vibrates and once it finishes, the diaphragm muscle vibrates. Back and forth they go, at the rate of 30 times per second. The result of these vibrations is air turbulence which is the sound you hear. The muscle vibrations are what you feel when your hand is on your cat while it is purring.
Maybe, maybe not. I’m not sure I want to have the mystery of the cat’s purr resolved. I just love feeling the wonderment of this amazing, unique sound as it lulls me to sleep at night.