The Healing Power Of The Purr

Feeling achy? The healing power of the purr can help.

Who would’ve thought? All I need to cure my aching back is a purring cat. I certainly have an abundance of those! Katie would be the best choice though.  She seems to understand the healing power of the purr and always sleeps against my back in the exact place where it hurts.

But it turns out that it’s not the comforting sound of the purr that heals, so much as the gentle vibration. Think of a purring cat as an ultrasound treatment on four feet. 

Chickens, gorillas, ring-tailed lemurs, rabbits, raccoons, guinea pigs, squirrels and elephants also purr. But you probably wouldn’t want to snuggle up to an elephant or gorilla when you need pain relief. That’s where cats come in.

Thank researcher Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, a specialist in the field of bioacoustics at the Fauna Communications Research Institute in North Carolina, for discovering the healing power of the purr.  

Cats, she found, purr at a frequency of about 20-140 Hz, the range that promotes healing. When a cat is injured, purring can promote tissue regeneration, repair. strengthen bones and tendons, and build muscle. And that, she suggests, gives them an evolutionary healing advantage over other species and could explain the notion that they have nine lives. 

It could be the healing power of the purr, along with their “righting reflex,” which helps cats land on their feet when they fall, that makes it possible for many of them to survive falls from high buildings.

Getting Purrsonal With Your Cat

Ukrainian and Russian scientists discovered decades ago that vibration can promote healing. Physical therapists and sports medicine practitioners use it. They just don’t use cats.

But they could. Getting up close and personal with a purring cat can…

  • Strengthen bones and help fractures heal faster and cleaner.
  • Help torn muscles and ligaments heal more quickly.
  • Reduce the swelling of a wound, fight infection and stimulate healing.
  • ​Relieve the symptoms of dyspnea, or shortness of breath. Since purring mimics the in-and-out of breathing, feeling the vibrations will help you breathe easy. Of course, if you’re having a serious allergic reaction or other serious respiratory problem, you’ll need more than cat purrs! 
  • Lower blood pressure and reduce stress. 

Studies show that hanging out with a purring cat can be helpful to people with osteoporosis, especially older people because it builds bone density. 

As for my aching back, Katie is  ready to go to work. She’ll curl up against my back and purr and purr. I used to think it was her body heat that made me feel better. But now I know it’s the healing power of the purr. 

Cat purrs have healing benefits for humans

Graphic From Palo Alto Animal Shelter

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