Skip to main content

How Do Cats Purr?

cats, kitten, purring
A cat's purr is still a puzzle to scientists. (Image credit: Kitten image via <a href="">Shutterstock</a>)

Unlike other cat noises, purring occurs during the entire breathing cycle — inhale and exhale. A meow, on the other hand, is done only during exhalation. But how exactly do cats purr?

Scientists are still puzzled over the exact mechanism of purring. But the most accepted idea is that a region of the cat ’s brain signals the muscles that make up its voice box, called the laryngeal muscles, to vibrate.

Simultaneously, Fluffy is inhaling and exhaling, sending a stream of air through the vocal cords. Together these two actions cause the vocal cords to vibrate, creating one purr-fect feline sound that pleases many humans — and makes dog lovers of the rest.

Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.