Are You My Mommy?

photo credit: Ametxa via photopin cc

photo credit: Ametxa via photopin cc

Do you own a cat?  If so, you likely have been looked upon by your cat as its mother.  After all, you are the one who feeds it and comforts it and gives it love.  Whether you got your cat when it was a kitten or as an adult cat, there are some similarities with how they treat you.

One of the first sounds a kitten will hear from its real cat mother is its mom purring when she nurses her kittens.  The kitten will associate the purr sound coming from its mom with food and comfort. The kitten itself, at a young age, will then start to purr also.

What is purring? It is thought purring begins in the brain. According to WebMD “A rhythmic, repetitive neural oscillator sends messages to the laryngeal muscles, causing them to twitch at the rate of 25 to 150 vibrations per second (Hz). This causes a sudden separation of the vocal cords, during both inhalation and exhalation – the unique feline vibrato.”

A purring cat is a happy cat.  Or so everyone thinks.  However, a cat will purr under stressful time also such as when they are at the vet or when they are recovering from surgery or an injury. So, one has to look deeper into the purr and look to other hypotheses on why cats purr.

Science has shown that cats suffer less bone and muscle loss than their canine friends. Dogs do not purr.  It is thought by many that purring actually has a positive effect on bone and muscles and that during the great number of hours a cat naps and lays around, its purring is actually using low level energy but energy none the less to strengthen bones and muscles.

Did you know that domesticated housecats are not the only ‘cats’ to purr? Other closely related species purr also such as the civet, hyena and guinea pig.

So, the purring is communicative and self healing.  How cool is that?  A cat will also ‘knead’ with its front paws by alternating moving his claws in and out while pushing on your arm or leg or whatever body part he is nestled against. Some call this ‘kneading dough’. This action is also very calming for both the cat and his owner.

The kitten will also ‘knead’ his mom to encourage her to let her milk down so he can eat.  Some think this kneading behavior is back from when the cat is a kitten.  If a cat kneads on you, he is giving you high praise that he is comfortable and looks to you as a comforter.

So yes, in a way, if you own a kitten or a cat, you are like his mommy and he or she will treat you that way with purring and kneading.  They will likely follow you around – if they want to.  For that is the nature of the cat also – to do whatever they want!


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