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Is the Purr the Most Awesome Sound Ever or What?

It relaxes, it creates joy, and it heals in ways that science can -- and can’t -- explain.

JaneA Kelley  |  Oct 7th 2015


I love music. I could listen to it all day. Punk. Goth. Electronica. Hip-hop. Folk. Acid rock. Metal. Traditional Celtic. Pretty much anything except bombastic classical and atonal free-form jazz. I’ve got my entire music collection stored on its own hard-disk drive. When I was shopping for a new phone, I had to make sure it had enough memory to store many hours’ worth of tunes. I have 30 Pandora stations for anything that suits my mood for the day.

But hands down, my favorite music of all is my cats’ purr.

Purring relieves my anxiety when I’m anxious and scared about the future. It makes me feel safe and brings me back to the present when I get stuck in the throes of a bad memory. It can even help me sleep in a strange environment.

This spring, I had to spend a week in the hospital. It was bad enough that I was so sick I needed to be hospitalized, but getting to sleep and staying asleep was really hard. I was in a strange bed, in a place full of odd noises and some level of light all through the night. Not only that, but I didn’t have my beloved cats, who sleep next to me every single night.

Fortunately, my best friend sent me a link to a YouTube video with hours and hours of feline purring.

In my strange bed, I drifted off to sleep with my phone beside me, the sounds of feline purrs drowning out the unfamiliar noises.

I slept better that night than I had in weeks. The nurses actually had to wake me up in the morning because I’d spent almost 12 hours in the land of Nod.

A man kisses a cat

Man kissing his cat by Shutterstock

I like to think the purring was just as much of a factor in my healing as the medications and the daily activities.
There’s an old veterinary adage that goes, “If you put a cat and a bunch of broken bones in the same room, the bones will heal.”

And recent research reveals that there just might be some truth to that. The purr vibration is in a range of 25 to 150 Hertz. Frequencies of 25 and 50 Hertz are the best — and 100 and 200 Hz the second best — frequencies for promoting bone strength and healing.

Cat purrs also decrease the symptoms of dyspnea (breathing difficulties) in both cats and people. Cat owners are 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack than people without feline friends.

Purr vibrations even help in healing muscle and soft tissue injuries, as well as infections and swelling. So the next time you hurt your back rearranging your furniture, let your cat curl up next to your sore sacrum and do her thing.

On a purely non-scientific level, I can also attest that having a warm, purring cat in your lap helps to ease menstrual cramps as well.

Sure, cats purr for reasons other than contentment, but it’s pretty clear when that’s the case — they’re injured or anxious, for example — but in those cases they’re using their own purrs to heal or de-stress themselves. So cats themselves also know about the healing power of the purr, and they’re not afraid to use it for their own benefit.

Cats also purr as a method of communication and solicitation, as anyone who’s ever awakened to the sound of a purring cat shoving her nose in your face to tell you she’s ready for breakfast. But it’s much nicer to wake up to a purr and a wet nose than to the beeping of my alarm clock!

Do you agree that the purr is the most awesome sound in the world? How has the power of the purr benefited you? Share your stories in the comments.

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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal rescue volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline authors, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.