Do Big Cats Purr As They Snuggle You to Death?

On a day when the rest of America is drunk on puppy, we should remind ourselves that the wide world is full of genuine cuddle monsters and that scientists have finally answered the baffling mystery that you probably think about on an average of 4.6 times a day without even realizing it: Do big cats purr? Maybe? Zoologists are giving a collective shrug on this one because there's still some disagreement as to what constitutes a purr and why, exactly, cats purr (and something about an important-sounding hyoid bone that I didn't pay attention to because the happy kitties distracted me). Purring is an involuntary reflex and, in addition to pleasure purrs, cats purr for such macabre reasons as traumatic injury or approaching death. Think about that the next time your tabby is curled up on your lap, purring softly, and you have the urge to congratulate yourself on your deep, abiding kinship with the animal kingdom. So purring remains a mystery, which means two things: science needs to take some risks by sending zoo interns into the big cat enclosures with over-sized cat toys, and until we have definitive proof that tigers don't purr, there's still hope that we can all have pet Rajahs.

[via BoingBoing]


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