2008-11-05 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Cyrus Take 2: Prior to the Beach Boys song, felines instinctively harnessed "Good Vibrations", so before adding another dimension to the powerful purr, let's revisit an Oct. 23 "Pets" column about Cyrus, the kitten with 2 broken legs. He was noticed and helped primarily because of his persistent purr. His "good vibrations." could have been more than an outpouring of friendliness. Studies suggest purring can increase bone density and help heal fractures. Is little Cyrus aware of the research?

To recap and update, in early September Good Samaritans discovered 2 black kittens in the middle of the road hovering around a third identical littermate, most likely hit by a car. Babylon Shelter brought the badly injured stray to an emergency hospital with little hope for his survival. However, at the clinic, surgical interns supervised by their mentors performed complicated pin and wire repairs on both hind legs pro bono.

Since then, Cyrus left the shelter and is making a miraculous recovery in his Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation foster home. Despite his accident (plus a sudden fever that began spiking the day the first article written by Joanne the Jinx was published), Cyrus, with "his achy , breaky legs" has astounded all who meet him with his cheerful attitude, non-stop purr, and desire to zoom, jump and climb like a real kitty. {Note: Cyrus is fine now. His doctors feel the fever may have been a new variant of a virus that has recently surfaced on LI, unrelated to his orthopedic woes.}

Cyrus' non-stop purr Cyrus' non-stop purr My Oct. 23 "Pets" mentioned that distressed, even dying cats will at times purr but it didn't delve into the puzzling reasons why. In 2003 Dr. Leslie A. Lyons, associate professor of Veterinary Medicine at University of California Davis explained that purring gave survival advantages to feline species as they evolved. Cats purr when nursing or being stroked by humans but they also purr in times of stress, such as during a vet visit or while in pain.

A purr has something to do with air, muscle contractions and possibly blood flow through the larynx and diaphragm. Cats purr in the range of 25 to 150 Hertz. That would be in the same frequencies for your pet "Whiskers' and the wild cougar. Various studies have shown that vibrations in this range can improve bone density and promote healing. Another adaptation is the cat's ability to conserve energy during their long periods of sleep. Perhaps purring is a low energy pulsing method of stimulating muscles and bone.

Over 11 million people have seen Nora the piano playing cat on You Tube. The British TV show Extraordinary Animals just filmed an episode trying to explain the rationale behind Nora's desire to be the feline Liberace. Since Nora purrs as she plays, Dr. Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, a bioacoustics expert, explored the benefits of purring as one hypothesis. She claims the type of frequencies in a cat's purr are also good for healing muscle, tendons, ligaments, wounds, lessening swelling and infection, and reducing pain and pulmonary disease. She says that lameness and arthritis problems tend to be less prevalent in cats than dogs. Even bone cancers are rare in cats. Might Nora have read the same studies as Cyrus?

Cats provide practical appl ications to humans especially astronauts, because in zero gravity bone loss occurs at the rate of 1 to 1.5% per


Physicians are now examining whether sound therapies or standing on vibrating plates can slow osteoporosis or stimulate bone and muscle strength in post-menopause and elderly patients. This thinking parallels an old veterinary adage: "Put a cat in a room with a bunch of broken bones- the bones will heal." Carrying it one step further, pet ownership has its documented health perks. Some folks go as far to claim that lying next to a purring cat can relax them, lull them to sleep, lower blood pressure, or ease their migraines. "Take

2 cats and call me in the morning" is a lot less expensive than a prescription or Medicare Part D. Cyrus has healed himself enough to become someone's "participating purr provider". He doesn't require co-pay for his services, just a forever home and a lifetime of love. Anyone interested can contact him at: cyrus@lasthopeanimalrescue.org.

For Adoption at Oyster Bay Shelter (677- 5784) Miller Place Syosset: "Arthur" #920 is a darling 9 yr. old Border terrier mix, only 24 lbs., surrendered with 2 puppies, but he is not showing well in the kennel. He hides in the back of the run, yet shines when he is out. Meanwhile "Sushi" # 855 an orange and white female cat is one of 3 poor waifs turned in from the same home. Both qualify for the free "Senior for Senior" adoption program. Cats: several declaws including the sweet male tabby #811 in the lobby showcase; "Beauty" #856- female tuxedo. Dogs: "Duke" # 921-"Arthur's" former housemate- Shep mix pup about 5 months; "Samson" a Min Pin; "Berber"- the gentleman Cocker Spaniel.

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