Cats and kittens are funny about their purrs. Gemini can be hissing at you and suddenly you pet her anyway and there is this huge purr. She can be rolled over on her back and kicking at your hand as she fights and purring loudly. It’s like an acknowledgement that she has attention and she loves it.
She wakes me up early in the morning with this loud purr next to my head as she settles down next to me. However, if I acknowledge her, I will be in for a long play time as she realizes that I am awake! So the purr seems to be a subtle way of testing whether I am awake.
I had another cat who purred at the vet. The vet would try and listen to his heart and he would begin to purr, so she couldn’t hear anything. She says that some cats are like that. Most cats don’t just purr when they are contented and happy but purr for many reasons. Often they do purr when they are stressed. What a great way to self soothe!
I have read that cats purr at the same frequency that bones heal. You have to wonder if this is why younger cats purr so much more. They are healing their bones as they grow and stimulating strong bones. The article where I read this, and I believe it was about three years ago in Best Friends magazine, said that this may be why cats survive long falls—they are healing their bones as soon as they are injured. No one knows how far distant the purr frequency lasts. Is it only good for that cat’s body? Does it help us if we can hear it? Does the cat have to be on us?
At any rate, a purr is obviously more than just a contented sigh, isn’t it?