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Rare scientific breakthrough: scientists figured out how cats purr

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Scientists have been puzzled by how cats are able to produce their characteristic quiet purr for years.

Researchers at the University of Vienna say they have finally figured out where cats’ signature purring sound comes from. However, why they do this is still a mystery. This is stated in a study published in Current Biology.

For years, it remained unclear to scientists how cats produce their characteristic quiet purr, as low-frequency sounds are usually produced by larger animals with longer vocal cords.

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Thus, scientists discovered “purring pads” of connective tissue embedded in the vocal folds. Their density probably increases, causing them to vibrate more slowly, creating a hum that brings joy to cat owners.

The team, led by voice scientist Christian Herbst at the University of Vienna in Austria, said their research challenges the widely held belief that purring is caused by active muscle contraction. Scientists believe that purring may be a passive aerodynamic behavior that resumes automatically after the brain sends the initial signal.

When people speak, they create a low, husky sound by vibrating their vocal cords at a very low frequency, sometimes described as a “hum.” Cats have a “purr pad” that works in a similar way, allowing the little furs to purr even though their vocal cords are shorter than ours, using the same mechanisms that normally produce sounds with a high frequency such as meow.

This surprising discovery shows that muscle contraction is not necessary for purring. Connective tissue structures may be the main driver, although this still needs to be proven by measuring the process in living cats, which is a bit more difficult.

“Although our data do not completely disprove the hypothesis of active muscle contraction for purring, they show that the cat’s larynx can easily produce purring sounds with fundamental frequencies of 25 to 30 Hz without neural information or muscle contraction,” the researchers said.

At the same time, the reason why cats remain a mystery. Some theories suggest that purring indicates pleasure and encourages more human interaction. Research also suggests that purring may be a healing mechanism.

In the past, scientists have said how well cats make good pets. They found that cats get angry when they are petted inappropriately.

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Source: korrespondent

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