Purr therapy is a healing process that is triggered by a feline’s purring.
Purring is the vocalization emitted by certain felines and viverrids, produced at the inhale and exhale. They are low frequencies that begin at the age of two days. The purring mechanism is to this day poorly
explained. The prevailing theory is that the sound is produced by the contraction of the larynx muscles, triggered by a neural oscillation, which causes the vocal chords to vibrate. Whether or not certain felines can purr is also a subject of debate, particularly with big cats from the Pantherinae subfamily.
Purring is essentially limited to mother-offspring relationships in nature, but domestic cats can purr as much in a situation of pleasure as of suffering. This is why the purpose of purring is not easily understood. Some authors compare the purr to the smile, because its social role is primordial with their fellow creatures just as smiling is with humans. One theory suggested is that purring has healing properties: the low frequencies emitted promotes the strengthening of bones, muscles, tendons and even relieves pain.
Jean-Yves Gauchet is a veterinarian based in Toulouse and the inventor of “purr therapy.” He discovered it quite by accident. In 2002 he was searching the Internet when he found research done by an association that was studying animal communication. This study, backed by statistics, found that after suffering lesions or fractures, cats have five times less aftereffects than dogs and recover three times faster. Hence the hypothesis that purring has an actual restorative effect: in producing this sound, cats are more resilient in harmful situations. They “vibrate” with happiness while falling asleep, but they also do it when they’re suffering or put in intense stressful situations.
After this, Jean-Yves Gauchet published an article on the subject and offered volunteers to test the powers of purring using a 30-minute CD called Relax with Rouky. The results speak for themselves: 250 “test subjects” experienced joy, serenity and had an easier time falling asleep. From a purely physics perspective, these are layered sound vibrations with a low frequency of 25 to 50 hertz. These are the same frequencies used by kinesiologists, orthopedists and in sports medicine to repair broken bones, damaged muscles and to promote the healing over of skin wounds. Musical compositions for film also use this low frequency to elicit emotions.
Purring uses the same pathway in the brain, through the hippocampus-amygdala circuits, a brain structure
associated with fear triggers, says Jean-Yves Gauchet. Listening to this sound promotes the production of serotonin, the “happy hormone” that is linked with sleep and mood. Purring “plays a role much like Proust’s madeleine,” he adds. “Unless of course you are still traumatized by the cat that scratched your face when you were six.” Recently, he discovered that these frequencies help to reduce jetlag and the accompanying fatigue. In the spring of 2009, in collaboration with the software company Apple, he designed an application for iPhones. The goal was to help readapt after a trip oversees, to more quickly re-establish one’s rhythm thanks to a compilation of purrs, dietary recommendations (namely eating nuts) and a blue light emission that generates melatonin production.
There you have it, another great reason to join us at the Siberian Cat Café where you can take advantage of all that these sweet love balls have to offer
Taken from the Psychologies website