Why do cats purr?

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Offline cheryl j

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Why do cats purr?
« on: 06/12/2011 18:46:21 »
I cant even tell where it is coming from. Sometimes it sounds like its coming from the nose like a snore, but you feel a bit of vibration around the vocal cords. But if you put your ear up to its chest it actually sounds like its coming from deep inside.
They seem to purr when they are happy, being petted or fed, but do they purr if they are alone? Do they purr around other cats or just as kittens?