The first purrs come during feeding, when the kitten presses on the mother’s stomach to get the milk out of the teats. It is said to “knead” like the baker working with bread dough. This kneading behavior, accompanied by purring, often continues into adulthood: it is a way for the cat to express its well-being by being by your side.
In the vast majority of cases, the purr is associated with a feeling of pleasure: feeding, caress from the owner, filled bowl… However, veterinarians sometimes observe cats purr under intense stress, pain, even a few minutes before they die. It is therefore believed that the purr is used to communicate with other individuals (whether cats or humans), but also to appease the cat itself.
In any case, this particular sound appeals to people. A study has shown that if people, even non-cat owners, are played recordings of cats purring, they are more likely to care for and feed them. Cats have understood this and therefore also purr when they want something.
Spinning therapy for humans
It was a French veterinarian, Dr. Jean-Yves Gauchet, who in 2002 was the first to talk about spinning therapy. According to him, listening to a cat purr causes the release of serotonin. This neurotransmitter – a substance that allows the transmission of a message between two neurons – plays a role in the regulation of certain behavior patterns, such as sleep. Conversely, a serotonin deficiency will play a role in the occurrence of behavioral disorders, such as aggression or depression. Thanks to serotonin, the purr would therefore cause a state of well-being in the person who hears it.
More generally, the bond between humans and animals is increasingly being used as therapy. This is called animal mediation or zootherapy. Animal mediation consists of involving an animal selected and trained for this “work” with disabled or sick people, all supervised by professionals. Today, the cat takes its place in these care programs, especially with autistics who appreciate the sensory stimulation caused by contact with a cat and, of course, by its purrs. The cat is more difficult to train than the dog. It is impossible to force him to lie down in a certain place or give his paw. But many opinions confirm the benefits of patients in contact with a cat.
Although all the mysteries behind the purr have not yet been clarified, do not deprive yourself of the happiness of having a purring cat near you!
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