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And why can some felines roar while others meow?

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess the first question to ask is: "Why do cats purr?". If I remember correctly it is not really clear, so I doubt an evolutionary mechanism for it is known. As for the roaring I suspect that size matters. $\endgroup$ – nico Apr 5 '12 at 6:45
  • $\begingroup$ Also, are you looking for an ecological answer (as in why cats perform the action of purring), or a physiological/anatomical answer (as in why a cat's purr sounds like it does)? $\endgroup$ – LanceLafontaine Apr 5 '12 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ I just think there's no purpose to purring as far as I can tell. 'meow' seems like a more valid form of communication. $\endgroup$ – ironcyclone Apr 5 '12 at 20:43
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It makes sense that the ability to express your emotions improves the quality of the interaction you have with those around you. If a cat purrs those around it know it's feeling good, which can be useful information for future interaction.

I'm sure there have been cats who had a worse life because they didn't bond as well because they didn't purr, and consequently had a slightly lesser tendency to have their DNA end up in the next generation.

This argument goes for every ability to express emotions.

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  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, so I suppose that cats use purring to communicate with one another? $\endgroup$ – ironcyclone Apr 5 '12 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ I would think so yes. $\endgroup$ – john-jones Apr 5 '12 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purr#Reasons lists several other possible reasons for purring. I'm not a big fan of antropomorphisation of animal habits, but I guess a clear response is still elusive in this case $\endgroup$ – nico Apr 5 '12 at 20:06

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