Meow! Meow! Purrrrrrr, Purrrrrr...

Ever wondered why your cat makes the sounds he does?

Let's talk about purring...

Why do cats purr? I think it's an interesting thing to consider. I mean, I can't purr. Can you? Exactly. That's why we are so fascinated by it!

To properly care for a cat, I think it's important to be able to accurately interpret the sounds your cat makes. When I say "purring," I'm referring to that loud rumbling noise and slight vibration that your cat sometimes makes. It can be soothing or annoying, depending on the situation and your mood. A lot of people enjoy hearing a cat purr, mostly because they associate it with being a sign that a cat is comfortable and happy. That's what I always thought, but a certain book has changed my perspective.

According to "Why Do Cats Do That? Real Answers to the Curious Things Cats Do," cats purr both when they are content and when they are stressed out. A trip to the vet's office is no picnic for them, but they often purr while there. The book authors put it this way: "Think of the purr as the cat's equivalent of our smile, indicating that no hostile intent is meant." And we all know that we are prone to a sarcastic smile or two every now and then, which could be confused with our smiles that actually indicate contentment.

The book further states that the actual sound of the purring comes from the vibrating muscles around a cat's larynx. And since purring originates in a cat's brain, stimulating that area causes a cat to purr. According to Brüel & Kjær Magazine, purring is a method of self-healing. The company, which supplies answers to sound and vibration problems or questions, suggests through research that the "natural selection" aspect of purring is its healing nature. "There is extensive documentation that suggests that low frequencies, at low intensity, are therapeutic. 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."

Let's talk about meowing...

We talk. Cats meow. That's life. But what are they saying? Don't you just wish that cats could speak English? (Or maybe you, like myself, wish you could speak cat.)

Unfortunately, all we can really do is take a guess at what cats are trying to communicate to us. I liken it to caring for a baby. They cannot speak either. If they cry, you can either feed them, change them, hold them or take them to the doctor if nothing else seems to work. With cats, I've found that meowing usually means a cat is hungry, lonely or ill.

Of course, as you will see, the cat in the video below just likes to talk (like some people). Some cats, such as this one, enjoy talking back to humans who speak to them in English or mimic their meowing. This is one of my favorite YouTube videos about cats. I think it's absolutely precious!

And in the following YouTube video, it appears that these two cats understand each other quite well. They are communicating as well as humans do! And in the end, the one gets the result he is hoping for--a bath!

One more thing:

And now for a personal story about a quirky cat behavior that I'll share because sometimes you won't know what your cat is telling you by his actions or noises:

My cat, Zoey, is as sweet as can be. Really, she is! But just when I think she can't get any sweeter, she reminds me that she is actually bipolar and starts lunging at me. She latches onto whatever she can get with her claws (a.k.a. my body). She prefers my calves, and she will chase me around my apartment and nip at my ankles or legs.

So, she had been scratching her ears a lot, and I decided to take her to the vet to get tested for ear mites, which you can learn about on the Grooming page. Since I was already there (spending a small portion of my life's savings), I asked for some counsel. But Zoey was so good in the vet's office that both the nurse and doctor did not really believe me that she turns into psycho-cat at certain points during the day.

My nice veternarian suggested that perhaps this is just Zoey's way of being playful. But if it worries me (it does; she CHASES me around the apartment), then I should invest in a toy that really interests her (such as a wand with feathers at the end) and divert her attention to that during her "episodes." Or she also suggested filling an empty soda can with bolts and nails, coins or something equally loud and obnoxious. That way, when the cat starts getting rambunctious, I can simply shake the can and she will begin to associate the horrible noise with what happens when she behaves that way.

So far, the wand with feathers seems to be helping. She is absolutely fascinated by this new toy! So as long as I can get to it quickly, it seems to have helped me with the problem thus far. If you've experienced similar oddities with your cat, maybe that advice would be of use to you as well.

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