MONTHLY NEWSLETTERS

July 2021 Newsletter: The Cat’s Meow

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2020 was a tough year for almost all of us, but the pandemic may have been one of the best things to happen to shelter animals as many were adopted to combat the loneliness and isolation of shelter-in-place orders. While you may have spent a significant amount of time over the last year with your newly adopted cat companion, it may have some secret acoustical traits you were not aware of. Read on to learn how cats use sound in interesting ways.

We have all heard a cat purr before; typically, this sound is an expression of pleasure from when a feline friend is being pet or shown affection. However, not all purring cats are content or pleased with their current circumstances. Cats can also purr while under duress, such as during a trip to the veterinarian or when recovering from injury.

Cat purring has been studied extensively. Researchers found that the noise is produced when muscles within the cat’s larynx dilate and constrict the glottis, which is the part of the larynx that surrounds the vocal cords. As a cat inhales and exhales, the air vibrates and creates the familiar sound. The purring sound is typically created in the lower range of human hearing, between 25 and 150 Hz. Here is where it gets really interesting: studies have shown that the purr has potential healing action for the cat. It is thought that the vibrations from purring can be a way for the cat to heal itself after stress and increase bone density.

So, if cats can do this, can humans benefit as well? Vibrations at frequencies between 25 and 100 Hz correspond with healing frequencies in therapeutic medicine for humans; can this be used to increase our bone density? NASA scientists have been studying this because astronauts’ bones can lose significant mass due to prolonged exposure to weightlessness in space. While a cat purring is not the most effective source for humans, the scientists have created a vibration plate that astronauts can stand on for treatment. Experimentation is still underway to determine if vibration from this plate can be a suitable treatment to increase bone growth.

Down here on earth, a belt that creates vibration similar to a cat purring is being developed as a consumer product. According to the company, the vibration belt can reduce the risk for osteoporosis by delivering gentle mechanical stimulation to the hips and spine at a precise, individually calibrated frequency, encouraging the body to reduce bone resorption and potentially create new bone. While this may bring to mind some questionable weight loss products of days past, we’re hopeful that these devices prove to be beneficial for those suffering from degenerative bone disorders.

With trials still ongoing for the devices described above, we will have to wait to achieve the same healing effects that cats can by purring. The saying that a cat has nine lives is starting to make more sense – if you can promote your own bone growth as a physical trait, that will give you a leg up.

August 2021 Newsletter: Science or Snake Oil?
June 2021 Newsletter: Not So Good Vibrations