Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally published on November 1, 2013. Enjoy!
Purring isn’t just for cats. Several other species are also thought to produce the same soothing sound.
Cats may be the best-known purrers — after all, they’re frequently underfoot. They are believed to purr to express pleasure and to soothe themselves when they are stressed or in pain.
Purring is a form of communication — not a reflex, as my dear departed cat Howard demonstrated. When he wanted the attention of someone far away, Howard purred louder. He also turned the up volume at dawn each morning, when he stuck his nose in my sleeping husband’s ear and purred his insistence that it was breakfast time.
Newborn kittens purr to communicate with their mother. They are born deaf and blind, so the vibratory purrs let cat moms locate their kittens.
And being around a purring cat is beneficial for human health. The behavior has been shown to decrease stress — and even strengthen bones.
It’s not clear whether other species purr for the same reasons as cats, but they are equally nice to listen to! Here are seven species — besides cats — that are known to purr:
Gorillas have big purrs that accompany with their size. In this video — well, this photograph with a soundtrack — Koko demonstrates her happy sound:
2. Ring-tailed lemurs
Raccoons have lovely, loud purrs, and they’ve got some serious stamina. Watch these two purr for three and a half minutes straight:
5. Guinea pigs
Squirrel lovers have long known about their rumbly expressions of contentment, though they are very soft. Turn the volume up around 0:24 on this clip to hear a squirrel purr:
At about 0:42 in the video below, listen for a noise like a motor starting. That’s an elephant’s purr!
Scientists say that this rumbling vocalization doesn’t require muscle control, so it is fundamentally different from cat purrs. But, hey, it still sounds great! You can hear more elephant purring by clicking on the second audio file in Time Magazine’s article on the subject.
Photo Credit: Fung0131/Flickr