Preview of Coming Attractions

Over the next several months, I will be traveling across the country in search of cat stories, visiting innovative cat rescues and shelters, interviewing eccentric cat lovers, leading vets and behaviorists and so much more. To view my travel schedule and learn more about my Cat Behaviorist business, please visit http://www.thecatbehaviorist.com/ . If I will be in your area and you feel you have some interesting cat stories to share, please don't hesistate to contact me via my website.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Orleans: Contemplating the Purr

4am on my last night in New Orleans and I can't sleep. The Maine Coon from the Lafayette animal control, Chance, jumps onto the bed, he plops down next to me, fidgets and adjusts, sighs, rests his head on his paws and mellows into a throaty purr.

One of the great alures of the cat, the purr happens when a cat is happy, but it also happens when cats are scared. What a conundrum--why the same response to such contrasting feelings?

The kittens run to my feet as I stand at the sink or sit at my computer. They mew and purr, rubbing their tiny fluffy bodies against me until I pick them up and then their purr accelerates.

Yesterday, I read that the Purr actually acts as a soliciation for contact. Which explains the contradictions 'purrfectly.'

Purring can mean: "Oh yes! Please keep rubbing me like that!:
or "I'm just so happy to be near you."
or "Hold me, I'm scared."
Or in the case of the kittens (just like my 3 year old daughter says with her arms in the air and her body pressed against my legs): "Mommy, uppy me!"

The purr is powerful and soothing communication between mamma cat and her babies. The mother and kittens purr as they nurse--again a communication that invites contact "Here I am babies, cuddle up, eat and stay warm." The kittens respond with their own contact seeking and maintaining purr.

I explained all of this to my mother who responded, "So then, what does it mean when they stop purring?" In my experience, it usually means they have fallen asleep.

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