Why do Cats Purr? (Part 2 of 2)

Mar 9, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior

Last time I wrote about purring and what it is for and why it is a wonderful evolutionary capability. I missed some very important information about purring in that post. Over the holiday, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a little time off that was not as over-scheduled and stressful as those days can be. I got some down time that was sorely needed.

So every morning, I sat with a cup of coffee and my iPad to read the daily paper. Inevitably within 5 minutes of sitting down, my “dearest, smartest, sweetest, most intuitive kitty ever” would leap into my lap for his daily facial. The spots on his head that are acupressure points – the area at the top of his head, right between his ears, his cheeks and under his chin – and a few others that he taught me he prefers would get a massage. He would purr his head off for as long as I would do it.

As his facial and purring went on, I would find myself relaxing. I stopped planning the day, making lists in my head and worrying about whatever I ordinarily worry about, which seems to be another endless list. My heartrate slowed as I entered a kind of meditative state that was delightful, slow and luxurious. Researchers know the benefits of meditation on general health and all that has been widely published.

After decades of research, most investigators agree that meditation practice reliably reduces physiological arousal and psychological anxiety. Likewise, to the extent that a clinical problem is exacerbated by stress, it is thought that meditation can serve as a helpful intervention. Meditation is similar to other self-regulation techniques, such as biofeedback and progressive relaxation training, in that they all involve a conscious attempt to control attention. We have known for a very long time that meditation can have large beneficial effects when done consistently and over time.

There are many forms of meditation and schools of training – walking, Zen, mindfulness, transcendental. The list is very long. Think about the physiological benefits of purring and touching a cat and incorporate that into another practice, “purring meditation”. I have been called type A and “high stress” and other less kind descriptions of my pace and preferences. If I can slow a bit and focus and relax more fully with a cat in my lap, so can you. Give it 10 minutes and your best “motor” kitty. You won’t regret it and it may become a delightful addition to the rituals of your day.

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