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Cat's purr therapy?

Elizabeth von Muggenthaler and colleagues at Fauna Communications believe that the vibrational frequencies in a cat's purr may explain why cats' bones heal so quickly and why so many domestic cats have survived falls from high-rise apartments. Many species of cats purr, the sound produced by a vibrating diaphragm and larynx. They purr when they are content, but also when they are frightened, injured, in pain, giving birth, and dying. Clearly, purring is more than a sign of satisfaction.

Fauna Communications Research Institute recorded and analyzed the purrs of 47 felids, including cheetahs, pumas, servals, ocelots, and domestic cats. Fauna Communications is a nonprofit institute, based in North Carolina, that studies animal communication and behavior. The researchers discovered that all tested species, except the cheetah, "had frequencies, notably 25 Hz, 50 Hz, 100 Hz, 125 Hz, that correspond exactly with the best frequencies determined by the most recent research for bone growth, fracture healing, pain relief, relief of breathlessness, and inflammation." The frequencies in the cheetah's purr differs by [+ or -] 2 Hz. Contact stimulation with low frequencies (50-150 Hz), applied with moderate pressure, was identified as having the best pain-reducing effect in people with musculoskeletal pain, according to a 1983 study by T. C. Lundeberg.

Fauna Communications researchers hypothesize that purring gives these cats an advantage. To test this hypothesis, they are seeking a noninvasive way to compare the physiology of purring cats with the physiology of nonpurring cats, like the tiger. In the meantime, if you are lucky enough to have a cat or two curl up next to you and purr, they are sharing the feline brand of vibrational healing.

Lundeberg TC. Vibratory stimulation for the alleviation of chronic pain [abstract]. Acta Physiol Scand Suppl. 1983;523:1-51. Available at: Accessed August 31, 2009.

Von Muggenthaler E. The felid purr: a bio-mechanical healing mechanism. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Low Frequency Noise and Vibration and its Control; 18-20 September 2006; Bristol UK. Available at: Accessed August 22, 2009.

Von Muggenthaler E, Wright B. Solving the cat's purr mystery using accelerometers [web page]. Bruel & Kjaer. Available at: Accessed March 25, 2009.

briefed by Jule Klotter
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Title Annotation:Shorts
Author:Klotter, Jule
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2009
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