Archive for September 4th, 2014

September 4, 2014


purr by Gemma Correll

A purr is a continuous, soft, vibrating sound made in the throat by most species of felines. Domestic cat kittens can purr as early as two days of age. This tonal rumbling can characterize different personalities in domestic cats and is often believed to indicate a positive emotional state, however, felines sometimes purr when they are ill, tense, or experiencing traumatic or painful moments. Purring varies between cats (for example by loudness and tone), and from species to species, but can be characterized as a tonal buzzing.

The term ‘purring’ has been used liberally in literature, and it has been claimed that many non-cats including viverrids (civet, mongoose, genet), bears, badgers, and hyaenas purr. Others are reported to purr only at specific times, for example rabbits, squirrels, guinea pigs, tapirs, ring-tailed lemurs, elephants, raccoons and gorillas are claimed to purr while eating. However, using a strict definition of purring that continuous sound production must alternate between pulmonic egressive and ingressive airstream (breathing in and out) and usually go on for minutes, a 2002 study reached the conclusion that until then only ‘purring cats’ (Felidae) and two species of genets, Genetta tigrina, and most likely also Genetta genetta, had been documented to purr.

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