We've always i felt that a cat somehow knows when we're not feeling well and even where it hurts. Got a headache and a cat just seems to wrap around your head. A stomachache and a cat can't seem to get off your abdomen. And purrs and purrs and purrs!
It was always believed that a cat's purr was relaxing or stress reducing . now science has shown that the cat's purr is much more than just relaxing. Remember that it's not just the sound of purring that's important but more the tremor or vibration it produces.
Interestingly, science has known for many years that vibrations at specific levels or frequencies cause healing changes in the body. They can, for example, induce bone growth and regeneration. Bone fractures heal faster and weakened bones begin to strengthen and rebuild.
Also, in the higher frequency ranges, the production of the body's own natural anti-inflammatory compounds increases thereby reducing joint pain and swelling. There is further evidence of muscle, tendon and ligament repair within these frequency ranges as well, which has led to some popularity in sports medicine and gyms around the world, especially in the former Soviet Union where so much of this research was conducted.
But it took researcher Elizabeth von Muggenthaler of the Fauna Communications Research Institute in North Carolina (FCRI), a specialist in the field of bioacoustics, to put it all together. Bioacoustics is the study of the frequency, pitch, loudness, and duration of animal sounds as it relates to the animal's behavior. Based on her research, she proposes that nature has endowed all kinds of felines with an evolutionary healing advantage in the simple act of purring.
The Science Behind the Purr
She recorded and then measured the purr of forty-four felids (members of the cat family) including cheetahs, ocelots, pumas, domestic cats, and servals. Cats, from your house pet to lions and tigers in the wild, generally purr in the range of 20 to 140 Hertz (Hz). Some are as high as 150 Hz but the average housecat comes in at about 25 and 50 Hz.
Research has already shown that exposure to frequencies at that same 20 and 50 Hz level induces increased bone density. In one study, for example, chickens were placed daily on a vibrating plate for 20 minutes, which resulted in stronger bone growth (National Geographic January, 2001 p. 11). Further, in 1994, Dr. Chen and his associates, working with rabbits, determined that frequencies of 25 and 50 Hz promoted bone strength by 20%, stimulating both the mechanism and speed of fracture healing (Chen et al, 'The Effects of Frequency of Mechanical Vibration on Experimental Fracture Healing'. Chinese Journal of Surgery, 32 (4), 217-219, 1994).
There's even a popular saying amongst veterinarians, "If you put a cat and a bunch of broken bones in the same room, the bones will heal."
There is also substantial documentation that low frequency vibration induces pain relief and healing of tendons and muscles, and cats purr at those very same frequencies.
Vibrational Purr Therapy?
The extrapolation of this research may prove vital. Studies continue regarding tissue exposure to frequencies between 20-50 Hz. For example, Dr. Clinton Rubin in a 1999 study discovered that such exposure creates the robust striations of increased bone density, suggesting applications for osteoporosis, particularly in post-menopausal women and the elderly.
But it's the cat's "healing by association" that most people find interesting: that ability of a cat to sympathetically help cure illnesses in people simply by being around them. Studies have also shown that owners, especially senior citizens, who have cats have lower blood pressure and can live longer than humans who don't own pets.
Many individuals swear they can ease or completely eliminate their migraine headaches simply by lying down with a purring cat next to their head.
Can't hit that minimum recommended daily dose of bone-enriching calcium? Maybe grabbing the nearest cat and holding it close may just prove to be the answer to brittle-bones.
Having surgery? Perhaps after coming home, keeping a cat nearby will reduce your recovery time.
So, go get a cat. Keep it happy and purring. You're both likely to be healthier and you'll have a great friend who truly understands how you're feeling.
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