Revealed purrs are the secret of cats' nine lives
Source: The Sunday Telegraph
Author: DAVID HARRISON Environment Correspondent
SCIENTISTS HAVE discovered that the purring of cats is a "natural healingmechanism" that has helped inspire the myth that they have nine lives.
Wounded cats - wild and domestic - purr because it helps
their bones and organs to heal and grow stronger, say researchers who have
analyzed the purring of different feline species. This, they say, explains why
cats survive falls from high buildings and why they are said to have "nine
lives". Exposure to similar sound frequencies is known to improve bone
density in humans. The scientists, from the Fauna Communications Research
reinforces studies confirming that exposure to frequencies of 20-50Hzstrengthens human bones and helps them to grow.
Dr Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, the president of the institute, said: "Old wives' talesusually have a grain of truth behind them and cats do heal very quickly. The healing power of purring seems to explain their `nine lives'." The scientists say that sound waves created at a particular frequency trigger the healing process in feline bones.
Purring is believed to have a similar effect to ultrasound treatment on humans. "We are starting to solve a 3,000-year-old mystery as to why cats purr," Dr von Muggenthaler said.
"The next phase will be to explain the mechanics of the process."
Almost all cats purr, including lions and cheetahs, though not tigers. Dr von Muggenthaler said that purring had to be advantageous to a cat to survive natural selection, but there seemed to be no obvious advantage for a cat merely to display contentment. A natural capacity for increasing bone growth and strength and reducing healing time was, however, "clearly advantageous". Cats' ability to survive and recover quickly after falling from tall buildings is well documented.
One recent study, published in The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, found that out of 132 cats that fell an average of 5.5 storeys, 90 per cent survived, including one that fell 45 story’s. Other scientific teams are researching whether "sound treatment" could be used to halt osteoporosis and even renew bone growth in post- menopausal women.
Dr. David Purdie, from
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