As many of my friends know, I recently adopted a new kitten. I have been without a pet for 3 years now, with my transition out West seeing my feline companions re-homed to my parents house (and living the high life in their waning years there by the way, can we say SPOILED anyone?), and when I was finally able to get a place of my own, I quickly turned to getting a cat again.
I went to the West Vancouver SPCA and saw a little silver tabby baby girl, and I connected with her almost immediately. I adopted her and took her home.
Since coming here she has completly bonded with me, and I to her. I remember how fulfilling it is to have such a wonderful feline companion, the joy a kitten brings as they explore, grow, cause all kind of havoc as they tornado around the house. And, how healing they are.
And for sure, the cat is a healing animal. I know all pets are healing animals in their own way, but for this article, I’m sticking with cats – and namely, the healing power of their purr. A cat’s purr is an amazing thing. It’s still a bit of a mystery HOW and WHY cat’s purr, but some science has begun to show the effects of the purr, which might illuminate the why.
I dug up some numbers and scientific lingo for you:
” Scientists have determined that cats, including pumas, lions, tigers, ocelots, cheetahs, etc., usually purr in the range of 20 to 140 Hertz (Hz). (1 Hertz means a vibrating structure moves back and forth once per second. A domestic cat usually purrs at a frequency of 25 and 50 Hz. This is important because:
Research has demonstrated that exposure to a frequency of 25 Hz increases bone density by at least 20%. Veterinarians, who’ve known this for a long time, say that if you put a cat and some broken bones in the same room, the bones will heal. This may also explain why cats rarely suffer bone or joint related diseases, including hip dysplasia, arthritis and ligament problems, or bone cancers.
Not only bones are affected by purring. Other research has demonstrated that, in the higher frequency ranges, the body produces an increase of natural anti-inflammatory compounds. This reduces joint pain and swelling and results in the healing of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Purring also seems to open up a cat’s air passages, thus reducing the incidence of respiratory problems. The respiratory difficulties often associated with heart disease are rarely found in cats, and all breathing problems a cat may have are quickly alleviated when the cat begins to purr. A story in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal (1973) described a dying cat who was having so much trouble breathing that its vet was considering euthanasia. However, once it started to purr, it began to breathe normally. Purring seemed to open its air passages.
The cat’s ability to change the frequency of its purring is probably one of its fine-tuning healing abilities. It may account for domestic cats living longer lives than their canine counterparts and may also have given rise to the idea that cats have nine lives.
They survive conditions that normally kill other animals, such as falls from heights. In a study of 132 cat falls with an average fall height of 5 _ stories, 90% survived. The record height for a cat falling and surviving is 45 stories. “
And that’s the just the science. I know, that it’s also a huge stress reducer for my little kitten to be sitting on my chest, or in my lap, and simply purring. I know my blood pressure goes down, my day seems less stressed, and the world seems a tiny bit brighter. Forget anti-depressants, nothing fixes a bad mood faster than a comfy, purring cat looking at me with unconditional love. I immediately feel connected to this little creature, who, by just being itself, content, happy in the moment, shares it’s healing gifts with me.
When I look back at my life with my now elderly cat, Nigel (who again, is spending his retirement in my parents house), I think – that he saw me through so many things, so much trauma and tumultuous situations. He was always there, ready to be petted, ready to sit in my lap, ready to purr. I think I owe much of my survival in this world to the comfort of the cat.
I’ve heard of people using cats on chakras to help heal. I actually don’t think it’s that far off to be honest, but I think my cat probably knows better what chakra of mine needs a good purr. That vibrational energy goes to the very core and simply, comforts. It may explain why a cat purr helps me feel better even when I’m sick. A respiratory ailment is made better by a cat purring on the chest. PMS is made better by a cat purring in the lap. Depression eased by a cat curled in a ball, by the head (or on top of, eh, my cats have all decided sleeping on top of my head is a good idea). You think that’s silly? Try it – I beg you to try to keep your head spinning and mind eating itself, while a cat purrs on your head.
So here’s to our great feline friends – it is no wonder to me they were worshiped as gods. And next time you’re feeling down, go to your local cat lady’s house and get a good purr in – it will do you far more good than taking a pill, it has no side effects, and you just might come away with a smile.
And just to note, while I wrote this entire article, I had a cat, purring in my lap. Ah, the sweet life!