That is a good question, and I would be lying if I told you I knew for sure. But there are several plausible theories why they do this unique vocal behavior shared by small-breed cats including the domestic cat, bobcats, cheetahs, lynx, and pumas.
Many people believe cats purr when they are content. Well, I have seen a lot of mad cats in my day purring. That is probably the first myth that was broken when I started my practice.
Research into the cause of purring has occurred for decades. Recently it is thought that this sound comes from the laryngeal muscles in the throat, which help control the opening and closing in the space between the vocal folds in the larynx. By moving the muscles in this area, the vocal cords separate causing a purring sound as air moves across the surface. But this is how they purr and not why they purr?
Many behaviorists believe that the original function of purring was to enable a kitten to tell its mother “all is well.” And that is where communication may begin, but research is showing it has a much broader meaning. Older cats purr when they approach other cats or when they are sick, afraid and angry. So why do cats purr, I am not sure. I would like to think it is because they are showing love and affection but right now there is not a purrfect answer. Please join our podcast called Vets Talk Pets on iTunes and Google Play to hear more about purring cats.
Why do cats knead with their paws?
I love to watch a cat kneading. It just looks relaxing. Cats knead for a variety of reasons. As kittens, massaging while nursing their mother encourages milk production. As cats get older and cover more area, kneading can be used to mark territory.
Kneading allows the release of pheromones that are stored inside special scent glands located in the paw. Isn’t that interesting? Kneading can also be used for bedding to create a warm and comfortable environment for sleeping. We take cats seriously at our office because they are much different than dogs. We have a separate cat room away from the canine patients providing a less stressful visit.