We all know how wonderful it is to be around a purring cat. If there’s anything more soothing than to be lulled to sleep or woken up by the sound of purring, I don’ t know what it is. But a cat’s purr is not only calming and relaxing: research shows that the cat’s purr has healing properties and can actually heal bones, muscles and tendons.

Why do cats purr?

While we still don’t know the exact answer to this question, we do know that cats purr when they’re content and happy. They also purr when they’re frightened or stressed. In those situations, purring may be a self-soothing mechanism.

Cats begin purring when they’re only a few days old, which is thought to help the mother locate them for feeding time. This may also be why some adult cats purr when they eat.

The more scientists look at the cat’s purr, they more they seem to uncover.

Is purring a healing mechanism provided by nature?

In a 2006 study conducted by Fauna Communications, researchers found that the frequency of a cat’s purr is between 25 and 140 Hz. This covers the same frequencies that are therapeutic for bone growth and fracture healing, pain relief, swelling reduction, wound healing, muscle growth and repair, tendon repair, and mobility of joints. This would support the theory that purring is not just self-soothing for cats, but is actually a form of self-healing.

The researchers at Fauna Communications believe that it’s possible that evolution has provided the felines of this world with a natural healing mechanism for bones and other organs.  From the Fauna Communications website:

“Being able to produce frequencies that have been proven to improve healing time, strength and mobility could explain the purr’s natural selection.  In the wild when food is plentiful, the felids are relatively sedentary. They will spend a large portion of the day and night lounging in trees or on the ground. Consistent exercise is one of the greatest contributors to bone, (Karlsson et al, 2001), and muscle (Roth et al, 2000; Tracy et al 1999), and tendon and ligament strength (Simoson et al, 1995; Tipton et al 1975).  If a cat’s exercise is sporadic, it would be advantageous for them to stimulate bone growth while at rest.  As well, following injury, immediate exercise can rebreak one and re-tear healing muscle and tendon (Montgomery, 1989).  Inactivity decreases the strength of muscles (Tipton et al, 1975). Therefore, having an internal vibrational therapeutic system to stimulate healing would be advantageous, and would also reduce edema and provide a measure of pain relief during the healing process. “

Click here to read the full study.

Can the cat’s purr help heal human ailments?

There are a number of studies that show that cats are good for our health. A 2008 study at the University of Minnesota showed that cat owners have a 40% reduced risk of heart attacks. Other studies have shown that just petting a cat can lower your blood pressure.

There are numerous reports from cat parents recovering from surgery or injury of cats insisting on laying on or near the area of the human’s body that needs healing. So I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to think that they don’t just do this because they love us or are worried about us, but that there’s actually a tangible physical benefit when they literally purr us back to health.

I’ve always believed that animals, and cats in particular, are healers.  Isn’t it nice to know that just listening to our cats purr is not only good for our soul, but also good for our body?

And just in case your own cats are too busy chasing toys or watching birds right now, here’s a video of a cat with a seriously strong purr to tide you over until your own kitties can get back on the job.

This post was previously published in September 2009, and has been updated.

36 Comments on The Cat’s Purr: A Biomechanical Healing Mechanism?

  1. hum…couldn`t find the study from Fauna you`re referring to, could you give it please ?
    Here you can find a list of their publications :

    In which doesn`t appear anything about cat`s purring. Same goes with the Ted video that brought me here, no reference…no other choice than considering this a wrong information.
    The story you tell makes sense, but it stays a story

  2. Love it. It all makes purrfect sense when you follow Tesla’s words, that everything is Frequency, Energy, and Vibration. I live my life by this…. now, as in the very distant past (only hidden) are we beginning to understand this and how vital it is that we understand this. It’s just fact, and if we all knew, and understood this, everything would be different. You could include, “Treat others, all beings, as you’d like to be treated…” to just bring it all ‘home’. All beings (in fact, all ‘things’), and their thoughts, emotions, actions cannot NOT have an effect upon us all. We are surrounded by negative influences, (Wifi, Radio, Bluetooth, etc.) so, it’s nice to have our natural influences, like ‘our’ cat’s purring to uplift us and help the body repair itself.

  3. I love my cats, but they aren’t big purrers. Thanks for sending this. The sound is wonderfully comforting, even if it isn’t coming from a warm little cat body on your lap.

    • The last 4 cats I had did not have audible purrs. I’m sure they did purr, I just cannot hear it. Are there any studies on cats that don’t purr?

      • I haven’t seen any, Michelle. Allegra didn’t purr until she was four or five years old, and even now (she’s nine) her purr is very soft and barely audible.

  4. I have a question : does cat has to be on your lap or touching your body for purr to be healing or the cat can sleep NEAR your body and has the same effect ? thank you so much for your answer

  5. I have 6 cats, and 2 or 3 of them are always on me when watching TV. I’m 64 and have none of the normal aches and pains or arthritis you’d expect! (Thank God) and purring kitty cats!

  6. Whenever I’m sick my 3 cats always surround me. When I had a concussion a few years ago my 1 cat slept at my head and then between my husband and I. He had never done that before. Thanfully I have an understanding husaband 🙂

  7. Aww kitties! God is so good to us that He gives animals the ability to have therapeutic effects on us. Just now when I watched the video of the purring cat I was relieved from my bladder pain. I get that once in a while before my menses after going number one. Whale sounds seem to have a therapeutic effect too. And you may think this is interesting but I found that the horse whinney has a healing effect on me as well.<3 And I've been around horses so much that I figured that out! This one time back in 2009, I was at a horse show(Memorial Dressage Horse Show, can't wait to go again!<3) and I was hanging out with a Thoroughbred horse named "Valley Boy" and he was whinneying for quite some time and I recorded him on my camera. And then I was standing in front of him with my back turned and played back the video with him whinneying and I think he answered himself as he walked up and his head was right over mine and his whinney vibrated through himself and right through me head to toe. And I remember thinking how healing that was!<3

    • I like the concept you offer in your post about the awareness of our own breath perhaps being the human equivalent of purring. What a lovely thought!

  8. Pingback: The Power of Purring | Confessions of a Cat Woman
  9. Cats are great healers and their purring is awesome. When I was injured Hero stayed with me and purred constatly. Elena

  10. Pingback: The Healing Power of Cats – Guest Post by Ingrid King | Mind-Body-Spirit Works
  11. Tammy, I loved hearing about Ben and his newfound “purgling.” When I first met Buckley, she never purred. It wasn’t until she had lived with me for a couple of months that I first started hearing a very faint purr. I think that might have been the moment when she first decided that this was really her forever home. Her purr eventually became stronger and more frequent. It was one of the most humbling and beautiful experiences of my life to hear that first purr from her – the thought that I made another being so happy was overwhelming.

  12. Wow – I didn’t know that purrs could actually heal. Our cats are quite sensitive to us when we are down or not feeling well. Our Ben curls up by your head and purrs. Purring is a new thing for Ben – he didn’t purr when we first rescued him. Most of the time you can feel it more than hear it. When he really gets going, he chokes himself. We call it purgling. 🙂

    I know that my cats purring away near me definitely soothes me – now I know why!

  13. Intuitively we recognize the healing power of having a cat curl up in our laps, but it is so interesting to know that science can also prove it. I’ve seen many nursing homes that have cats in residence. It’s good for both the felines and the elderly to have each other.

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