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Why do cats purr?
Purring is one of the most iconic sounds in the animal kingdom. It is a unique vocal feature shared by small-breed cats such as the domestic cat, bobcats, cheetahs, lynx and pumas. Larger breeds of cats, such as lions and tigers, do not exhibit true purring behavior. What makes a purr unique from other vocal noises is that it is produced during the entire respiratory cycle (both inhaling and exhaling). Research into the cause and purpose of this mystical sound has continued for decades. Most recently it is thought that this sound originates from the internal laryngeal muscles in the throat, which help control the opening and closing of the glottis (the space between the vocal folds in the larynx). By oscillating the muscles in this area, the vocal cords separate causing a distinct sound as air moves across the surface.
Many behaviorists believe that the original function of purring was to enable a kitten to tell its mother “all is well”. This conversation often occurs during nursing and, since a kitten cannot meow (vocalization during exhaling) while nursing, purring became a universal signal of contentment between mother and kitten. Although it is tempting to believe that cats purr simply because they are happy, it is more plausible that purring represents a broader means of communication. Older cats purr when they play or approach other cats and even when they are distressed, afraid or sick.
How long to cats live?
The average lifespan of an indoor cat is 13 to 17 years. With yearly veterinary exams and routine care, our feline friends are living longer than ever. In fact, the percentage of domestic cats 6 years old and above has doubled over the last 25 years. This coincides with a growing appreciation for cats as a whole as well as owners becoming aware of their unique physiology and set of behavioral needs.
Kneading serves a number of purposes during all stages of a cat’s life. As kittens, kneading the mammary glands of their mother stimulates milk production during nursing. Later in life, kneading can also be used to mark territory by allowing the release of pheromones that are stored inside special scent glands located in the paw. Kneading can also be used to break down bedding and create a warm and comfortable environment for sleeping.
As predatory animals, cats are hard-wired to hunt, chase and roam. These activities, whether directed at a gazelle out on the African Savannah or at a new feather toy in your living room, consume a large amount of energy. To make up for such a fierce predatory lifestyle, a typical cat must spend 15+ hours per day sleeping. Also, because cat’s are crepuscular, they are most active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk leaving the majority of their day directed at storing energy and “cat napping”.
Whiskers are a highly sensitive organ, which helps inform cats about surrounding objects, air movements and more. Their length helps a cat to gauge its ability to navigate a tight space and they can be raised or lowered as a means of communication or during stressful events. Because of their vital importance, never trim or pluck your cat’s whiskers.
Catnip is perennial herb and member of the mint family. Its active ingredient nepetalactone is found mostly in its leaves and stems. Only about 50% of cats respond to catnip, and of those 50% the response is widely variable in behavior. Catnip is not considered harmful and the responses vary from sedation to hyper activity. Most people use it to attract their cat to a scratching post or to increase playtime with toys.
Certain breeds, like the Maine Coon, actually enjoy being in and around water. The main reason that most breeds dislike water relates to their coat becoming too heavy and uncomfortable when wet.
Eating grass may serve as a purging mechanism from eating the occasional spoiled meal while hunting, or it can also serve to relieve other gut symptoms from parasites or infection. Some cats, however, seem to simply enjoy the taste especially from early, green moist growth.
Predation behavior means boxes are great for hiding, to stalk pray, or retreat for safety as needed. Cats enjoy all kinds of enclosures and feel safe and comfortable in a box, backpack or other type of bag.
A group of cats is called a clowder, or a glaring. Clowder is Middle English and means “to huddle.”