Why do cats purr when they're afraid?

Sometimes when a kitty is afraid, it purrs. Does anyone know why?
Answers: Perhaps it has a comforting or relaxing effect on them, a bit similar to meditating? As they most commonly purr when beaming or ultra relaxed, maybe they are trying to comfort themselves by thinking "happy" thoughts instead of focusing on their discomfort or fear?
To my scholarship, it's never been determined basically WHY this is, but cats purr for MANY reasons, not purely when they are happy and content. Good example: A feminine cat in labor, giving birth will purr, and a cat who is contained by pain will normally purr. Even a very sick cat will purr. You may want to ask your vet going on for this, but I don't think it's every really be determined just WHY----it's only just a "cat thing" and can mean a host of different things.

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