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Why does my cat...?

Cats are particular creatures.  They are highly intellgent and any cat owner can expound on their cat's peculiarities.  Some of these habits have scientific explantations and others are simply personality quirks.  Vetstreet.com has a regular column on their website called "Why does my cat..." where a veterinarian answers some questions about cat behavoir.  One article that I found most interesting was Why Do Cats Purr?  Surely there have been a variety of suggestions as to why cats purr, and we all know that purring is a good sign when petting a cat, but what does it really mean?

In the Vetstreet article, British zoologist Desmond Morris observed "that purring is a sign of friendship — either when (the cat) is contented with a friend or when it is in need of friendship — as with a cat in trouble." Dr. Marty Becker hypothosizes "If you think about it, a purr is kind of like a smile: Sometimes you smile from happiness, sometimes from nerves."  Cats purr when they are happy but they've also been seen purring in times of distress.  This helps to explain Mr. Morris's theory of purring.  So cats and humans have more than just a few things in common, we can all use a friendly face now and then.