There is nothing better than a quiet afternoon on a warm day, laying in the hammock with a good book while a snuggly kitty purrs contentedly on your lap. Nothing. Better.
Just look at those guys. You can almost hear them purring now.
But what about the purr? Why do they do it? Is it something they do intentionally or can they simply not help themselves?
Let's look into the historical theories of cat purring. It has been thought that cats have a special "cat only" purring organ. But no, there is no such thing. Some think it is blood in their throat hitting their aorta. But that proved wrong also. A third theory says that, "purring might have been caused by the vibrations of the hyoid apparatus, a series of small bones connecting the skull and the larynx that nominally serves to support the tongue." I think that one seems to make the most sense. Especially if you feel their throat while they are purring.
As far as the voluntary or involuntary part of purring, according to scientists, the jury is still out on that one. Kitties seem to purr when they are being petted or are snuggling, hinting at their contentedness or happiness at the attention and physical contact. But they also purr when in pain or they are uneasy or nervous, such as a mother cat giving birth, when at the vet's, or if they are threatened. So this could inply that purring is just as soothing for the kitty as petting itself or that it helps them heal or stay strong and healthy. Kittens are also known to purr while nursing which could show their mother that all is well with them or that they are happy to be eating.
Huh. Who knew? I am still very much of the opinion that they are happy or content to be sitting on my lap and are simply enjoying my attention and companionship. They love me, what can I say!
Interesting factoid: Cats can either purr or roar. But they cannot do both. I had heard a rumor once that lions were able to make both sounds. But it's not true. Only roaring from those guys. However, neither the cheetah nor the puma are not roar-ers, but are purr-ers, so that rules out the idea that only little cats purr.