Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Disenchantment of the Cat's Purr

For this scientific study of cats, I picture John Cleese sitting in a lab coat with a very earnest look on his face and a cat in his lap, reaching down to pet the cat at intervals he tracks closely on a wristwatch:

During tests, the cats relaxed on blankets, and were encouraged to purr by occasionally stroking them. The small, lightweight Model 22 accelerometers were placed directly on the skin of the cats and stabilised using washable make-up glue and medical tape. Each recording session lasted between 6 and 10 minutes. Data was recorded on DAT recorders and analysed.
But alas it was no Monty Python parody, and the study appears to have buried yet another of nature's mysteries, why cats purr as they do, in the clumping litter of knowledge:
[T]hat the cats in this study produced frequencies that have been proven to improve healing time, strength and mobility could explain the purr's natural selection. After a day or night of hunting, purring could be likened to an internal vibrational therapeutic system, a sort of "kitty massage" that would keep muscles and ligaments in prime condition and less prone to injury.
Purring seems to be the secret behind cats' high pain threshold and rapid healing. It's not that they love you and adore your attentions -- rather, just as you've sometimes suspected, your cat would play with and then eat you if it had the chance, and the purring is nothing but the cat keeping in peak physical condition until that chance comes along.

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