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October 26, 2014

The Enigmatic Purr

Part Two:  Purr as Healer

Do cats help heal themselves through the vibrations of their purr?  Fauna Communications Research Institute has compiled evidence as well as conducted research about the therapeutic benefits of purring. Their findings support the healing properties of The Purr. Cats purr at a low frequency between 25-100 herz. The research shows that low frequencies promote bone healing and easing of muscle pain. Other studies support this, saying that cats heal faster then other animals that don’t purr. In other words, cats give themselves ultrasound treatments when they purr… healing sound waves.

Purrs aren’t always happy purrs. Domestic cats will purr when they are severely ill, stressed or in pain. They also will purr when they are dying.  It is possible that these sad purrs are self-reassuring purrs. Perhaps cats purr to themselves the same way people who are alone and afraid sometimes sing to themselves. Another theory about these distressed purrs is that the purr is instrumental in releasing endorphins.

An article in Scientific American states that purring improves muscle tone without exercising. The vibration stimulates the muscles and bones, without the cat having to extend a lot of energy.  So, when you see your cat contentedly relaxing and purring on the computer equipment, she is in reality doing calisthenics.

Maulee Purring

Maulee Purring


The Enigmatic Purr

Part One: The Primal Purr

Purrs are complex. Even the most learned scientists and veterinarians can’t agree on the mechanism of The Purr. Cats purr in a variety of circumstances, conveying their emotions and state of mind with each purr. The purr most of us are familiar with is the reassuring purr from a contented, happy cat lounging on her favorite human’s lap. There’s more to the purr story…

Kittens are welcomed into the world with the soft vibration of their mom’s purring. Queens purr when they give birth. Perhaps they are purring because they are in pain, the vibration of the purr may help to release endorphins and might be self-reassuring. Whatever the reason for this purr, it is vital to the newborns survival. This primal purr is a perfect homing device for the kittens, guiding them through purr vibrations to nurse and to the protective warmth of their mother’s body. Since kittens are born blind and deaf, The Primal Purr is Nature’s perfect solution to insuring the first meals.

There’s another evolutionary component to The Primal Purr. Purrs help save newborn litters from the threat of a predator. A predator is more likely to hear a meow then feel the vibration from a primal purr.

When a kitten is 2 days old, she will start to purr. It is impossible for a kitten to meow and nurse simultaneously, so she does something better… she purrs. She purrs reassurances and contentment to her mom. Mom purrs back and all is right with the world.

(Part Two of The Enigmatic Purr will be posted soon)

My Cats Are Stars!

I was interviewed today by Ken Bastida, the news anchor for the 6:00 CBS news. He came to my house with his cameraman, intent on interviewing me about purring. He wanted me to answer the enigmatic questions: why do cats purr? And how do they purr? I prepared all week for this interview, both cleaning the house and in researching the mystery of the purr.This, by the way, is why I haven’t posted on my blog all week.

Ken and his cameraman were here for about 2 hours. It was fun, but I don’t know how the interview went. Ken adores cats and spent a good portion of the time admiring and enjoying my cats. I really enjoyed watching him interact and seeing the admiration and love he has for cats. I also enjoyed hearing about his wonderful elderly cat. My cats are great around cameras and strangers. They enjoy performing, and spent part of the interview licking the camera and giving Ken kisses on request. I also did a little demo with a couple of the cats sitting on their stools, shaking hands and finding my keys. They did film it, but that’s not what Ken had originally intended on interviewing and filming me about. I’m not sure if we got enough footage about cats purring…

They will edit this down into about a 1.5 minute segment. It will be shown in about two weeks on TV CBS news at 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM.

Whiskers (Vibrissae): The First Installment

 

Miss Mushu

Many years ago there was a lovely cat named Mushu who refused to eat like most other self-respecting cats. Instead of putting her head into her food bowl, she would dip her right paw into the food and scoop up big chunks with the intention of depositing the food in her mouth. Unfortunately, Miss. Mushu wasn’t very adept at this activity and would fling food around the room. Her meals would regularly end up plastered on the walls and sometimes on the ceiling.

Why was Mushu depositing her meals on the ceiling instead of in her mouth? Was Mushu a clumsy example of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? Was she learning to use a knife and a fork?

The answer to this mystery lies in her muzzle whiskers and the shape and depth of her food bowl. A cat’s whiskers help her define her world. They are an important part of her navigation equipment. Whiskers help her find her way around in the dark. Whiskers are very sensitive, sensing changes in the wind and air currents, allowing her to sense objects and navigate around them in the deepest night. Since they are the width of her body; she uses them to determine if she can fit into tight places. They also help her hunt, are like little fingers outlining her prey. Her whiskers help her determine where to strategically bite her prey in order to kill it. Whiskers help her see.  They are sensitive. They feel.

Small bowls can annoy sensitive whiskers. The bowl Miss Mushu ate out of was small and deep, her whiskers touched the sides. Since Mushu couldn’t verbalize that she hated the way the bowl felt on her sensitive whiskers, she scooped the food out with her paw and flung it on the walls and ceiling.

 

Wow.

Everyone, I am so moved by your comments on the blog and by the personal e-mails you’ve sent regarding the loss of Bok Choi. Your support and understanding truly is amazing. Thank you so much. Please understand that I can’t answer each of your posts, but know that they are appreciated and that I am grateful for them. Many of you came over and showed your support from Fabulous Lorraine. Thank you Lorraine for your friendship and support.

Helping a loving fur-child cross over is one of the most painful and hardest responsibilities that we as animal caregivers have.  I feel that if we are to share in the joy of their lives, we must be willing to share the sad times as well, including the painful act of humanely helping them cross over when it’s their time.

Goodbye my sweet boy. You are missed

 

Bok Choi
Bok Choi Saber Merkaba 10.30.2001-11.15.2008

 

Goodbyes

We know that are fur kids don’t live as long as we do. We don’t want them to hurt or to be in pain… they share their lives with us and give us their love. Painful and awful as it is, I feel we need to be with them when they cross the bridge.

I will help Bok Choi cross the bridge today at 11:00. It tears me up to do this, but today he refused to eat even his very favorite food and I think he is in pain.

It’s time.

Bok Choi, a Special Boy

One of my Bengals, Bok Choi was diagnosed last night with a large tumor in his lower intestine. He is very sick, the tumor is fast growing. I’m very sad. Bok Choi had a very rough life, was dealt a bad genetic hand, has HCM, disintegrating spine along with some other disorders and to top it off, the previous owner had him 4 pawed declawed and abused him.

Bok Choi is my special boy. Through the years he’s lived with me, he’s been my teacher. I know that sounds a little odd, but he has had just about every behavior problem known and unknown to cat. He has taught me to think out of the box and look at creative solutions. He’s a wonderful boy, I love him dearly and he will be so missed by me and his best buddy Kingsley.

My veterinarian doesn’t think it’s his time yet, but it’s soon. He’s now home, so he can enjoy his last few days with his best friend.

You can see a picture of him in my blog entry about Bengals and litter boxes.

 

Cat: The Masterpiece

Cats are nature’s masterpiece. They are perfectly designed. They are compact and streamlined hunting machines. Every part of a cat has multiple jobs to perform. From the tips of sensitive whiskers to the bottom of silent paws, every part of a cat multi-tasks. Every part of a cat is perfect.

A cat’s claws and paws are good examples of this. Cats use their claws for many reasons. Defending themselves is one, catching prey is another.  Cats also need to scratch. When cat’s scratch, they are telling the world about themselves, broadcasting information, marking their territory. Cats have scent glands on the bottom of their paw pads that leave vital information about themselves. Additionally they are marking visually.

Cats give themselves manicures when they scratch. When we get manicures and pedicures, we spend lots of money and time in order to have perfectly shaped finger nails and toe nails. Cats have it made. All they have to do to maintain the health of their claws is scratch on a surface that has a certain texture and resistance.

When cats scratch they are stretching. Every morning my cats go to their favorite scratching posts and reach up as high as they can and scratch and stretch. They stretch every muscle with these daily stretches. We can learn a lot about how to properly stretch just by watching our cats scratch and stretch.

Cats do have to scratch. They don’t have to scratch the antique sofa or the Persian rug. They can be taught through methods that include positive reinforcement and modeling to scratch the right cat-centric furniture.  Declawing a cat is not a good solution to stop a cat from scratching furniture. Besides being painful and inhumane, it can lead to other behavior problems such as biting and inappropriate elimination.

Have Cat Behavior Questions?

I have been getting many questions about cat behavior from readers of my blog. It’s impossible for me to answer all of the questions. But… it just so happens… I am going to be the guest question-answerer on Petfinders Forum, starting the 10th of November through the 16th. So, please do surf on over during that time and ask questions about cat behavior and cat behavior challenges.

Thank you everyone for reading my blog, and thank you for commenting and asking questions. I wish I could answer them all.

Me on TV

I am going to be on TV this Friday night on CBS Channel 5 at 7:20 PM on a show called Pets Around the Bay. After it aires, I’m told that it will be available on line . The filming took about 5 hours a couple of months ago. They filmed me talking about cats and cat behavior and showed me clicker training a shelter cat. I am curious to see what they used in the segment.