Is that astronaut purring?

By Connie Orcutt • Published: November 1st, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves

A purring cat is the quintessential symbol of contentment. But is something else going on behind that reassuring rumble?

Cat owners know felines love to purr at feeding time, while nursing kittens or when they’re being petted. But have you noticed kitties also purr during stressful times, such as recuperation from injury?

It turns out that the sound frequency of purring is very close to frequencies that bump up bone density and stimulate healing. Scientists speculate that because cats spend so much time lounging, purring may function a bit like weight-bearing activity to improve their bone and muscle health.

Sounds produced at this frequency may help astronauts, too, because space travelers suffer bone loss and muscle atrophy at zero gravity. Looks like NASA might be able to learn a thing or two from our feline friends.