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Why Do Cats Purr Introduction

Cats are enigmatic to say the least. These mysterious furry felines make over 100 vocal tones or sounds. The most prominent tone made by cats is purring. Every second, a cat can purr at a frequency of 20 to 30 vibrations. If you are like most people, you must have wondered why do cats purr. Thankfully for you, this article digs deep to unravel the science behind the purring of a cat. Indeed, you will discover how majestic and special cats are.

What is purring?

Before looking at why do cats purr, it is prudent to find out what purring is, in the first place. Purring is a fluttering sound by cats that is often continuous. Note that cats are not the only animals that purr. Scientists have not come up with a conclusive explanation on the actual mechanism of purring in cats. There are therefore several theories out there seeking to explain how the purring sound is produced in felines.

A theory that stands out to explain this mechanism states that purrs are produced when diaphragmatic and laryngeal muscles dilate and constrict. In this theory, a neural oscillator also plays a role. In another theory, there are claims that purrs are a product of the central nervous system. Cats with laryngeal paralysis are not able to purr and in this respect, the first theory could hold the right insight.

Why Do Cats Purr?

There are numerous reasons why cats purr. Some people have believed for the longest time that purring is a signal for happiness only. You will discover that there is so much more to purring in cats than you can imagine as detailed below.

Purring promotes a natural connection between kittens and their mothers

When kittens are born, they are highly vulnerable. They are not just deaf but they are blind as well. In this respect, purring by a mother will signal both safety and warmth for the kittens. Through the purrs, kittens are able to know which direction to go. This is a reassuring feeling for the kittens and the mother as well. Some experts have suggested that purring by a mother cat is a form of a lullaby. This way, the babies are able to snooze away without having to worry about any dangers.

Because cats give birth to a litter of kittens, the young ones are able to communicate with each other through purring. This form of communication has been seen to promote survival. This is mainly because of the low tone of the purring vibrations. In so doing, predators will not be alerted to the presence of these cats. Cats have also been seen to purr while giving birth. This is a way to cope with pain and discomfort. They do so in a quiet manner ensuring optimal safety for them and their young ones.

Soothe Cats that are in Pain and Distress

When cats are sick and in pain, purring is a very common feature. In addition, they will purr when they are going through some form of distress. According to some reports, purring releases endorphins in the body which promote faster healing in cats. In addition, these endorphins will also act as a pain reliever. Some studies have also shown that low-frequency purring works like an ultrasound treatment.

These low frequencies have the power to spark bone healing while soothing muscle pain. Just like fractures heal faster through ultrasound treatments, so is purring in cats. Therefore, the next time your cat is not feeling well, let them purr away their pain. This innate natural remedy is highly instinctive and many cats will tap into it whenever they need it.

Signals Happiness or Good Mood

Indeed, cats often enjoy their time and whenever they are in a good mood, you will know it. When your cat’s tail is still and she or he looks relaxed, chances are that she or he is happy. If there is purring going on, the furry feline is definitely in a happy spot. These purrs can also be infectious to the owner and at this point, your cat will be playful and calm.

Purr When Hungry

As you know, hunger is a huge driving force in the animal kingdom. When your cat is hungry, they will engage in purring. Here, you may notice that they go up and about the table or the place where they are fed from. At this point, it is time to stop and offer your cute friend some lunch. If you have a habit of spoiling your cat with treats, his or her purrs will remind you accordingly. Just make sure that you are treating your cat with healthy options most of the time.

To Get Attention

Cats love their strokes and rubs. If you have forgotten to give your friend a cuddle, you can be sure that their purring will get your attention. Cats indeed love the company of a loving owner. Because they love to be spoiled, purring is a sure way to grab your attention. Some people say that cats will seek to improve your mood by getting your attention. Either way, when you cuddle them, everybody wins.

A Form of Subtle Exercise

I know it is hard to imagine but it might be true. Purring could be a method of engaging in some low key exercises for cats. According to the work by Dr. Leslie Lyons, a genetics researcher, purring is a way to stimulate both muscles and bones. In so doing, felines can get a workout without having to lift a finger. This is definitely incredible and many people secretly wish humans had this ability as well.

To Show Love

When cats are incredibly close to their owners, they develop a high level of trust. In many ways, they will always have a need to show love or affection. They do this by purring while rubbing their bodies close to their owners. This is truly adorable and having such a connection with your cat is magical.

Need for a Mate

When a cat is in heat, one of the indicators can be purring. Of course, not all cats will purr at this time. In addition, you may not even figure out the actual reason for the purring. Through their purrs, they are able to cope as they look for a suitable mate. If you are not looking to increase the population of your cats, sterilizing them in good time is essential.

Cats That Do Not Purr?

As alluded to above, cats are full of mystery and yes, some cats do not purr. To begin with, some cats may have laryngeal paralysis and this is one cause for them not to purr. However, there are cats that are perfectly healthy but do not purr. According to experts, cats have many ways of communicating and purring is just one way. Some cats will use facial expressions, body language, and vocalization. In this respect, when some cats prefer to communicate using these methods named, they might have no need to purr.

Some cat owners may falsely think that their cat does not purr. However, it could be that the purring frequency of their cat is too low to be heard by human ears. In such cases, you are encouraged to gently place your hand on the cat’s chest. This way, you can look for subtle vibrations that will signal purring. A point that has been noted is that many feral mothers give birth to kittens who do not purr. It is believed that this is a survival mechanism. This helps prevent any attention from potential predators.

In some cases, cats will only purr loudly when they are mature. Therefore, every cat is unique and must be analyzed individually. For owners who do not mind living with a cat that does not purr, there is no problem. However, for those who are worried about it, seeking the attention of a good vet will be in order. This will help rule out any health problems that your furry friend may have. All in all, not purring is not a disease and many cats should be of sound health.

Not Exclusive to Cats

Purring is a major feature when it comes to the cat family. However, there are other animals of different species who also utilize purring to your surprise. Unexpected animals that purr include rabbits, elephants, gorillas, raccoons, and hyenas. There are many other examples to mention and this reveals how alike animals are despite their differences.

Other Sounds Cats Make

As hinted to above, cats make a wide array of sounds in addition to purring. Below is a look at the other top sounds while considering their meanings.


This is a very common sound when a cat feels threatened. This mainly happens in the presence of a dog or another cat that might be invading the territory. It is worth noting that some well adjusted sociable cats will not hiss at all. This is because they will not feel much threat at any one time. However, feral or shy cats could be quick to express their anger through hissing whenever a threat is perceived.


This is an extended moan by a cat and it can have a number of meanings. First, it could signal the need to mate. It could also be used to alert other cats about a territorial issue. In some cases, when cats are new to a location, yowling will be more prevalent. Sick cats can also agonize while expressing themselves through yowling. It is worth noting that this is mainly a cat-to-cat communication.


This is perhaps the most common sound of a cat. This is the primary mode of communication by cats to humans. Therefore you hear a meow more than a hiss or a yowl. Because cats are clever, they know how to get human attention. In their minds, meowing is the closest they can get to talking. This cute sound can be made to show affection or to demand attention. Whenever your cat sees you, they can welcome you home with a meow. It is not just adorable, but it also communicates effectively with the cat and their owner.


I’m sure you have heard your cat scream at some point. This wailing sound is common especially in times of conflict or fights. At other times, mating can cause some pain in females who let out a scream. When you have two cats that always have perennial fights, it is a good idea to find a suitable intervention. If the neighbor’s cat is the offender, keep your cat indoors and avoid the scream. If you own two cats that fight, do something before the felines hurt each other. Screaming is one sound that is not encouraged in this regard.

There are many other sounds that you must have noted in your cat. It is always wise to learn the character of your cat individually so that you continue enhancing your bond for optimal communication. When your cat is purring, you will definitely know what your cat is up to. Every sound has a level of significance and educating yourself this way is the key to unlocking even deeper communication with cats.

Why Do Cats Purr Summary

Can you imagine not knowing how sugar tasted like? Indeed, cats are wondrous and they can only guess what sweetness is. Experts say that cats lack a vital taste receptor and that’s why they have no sweet tooth. As you ponder that, consider that 40,000 people in the US are bitten by cats every year. All this goes to show that there is so much more to cats.

Purring is one of the most iconic actions for cats and the information above shows just how important purrs are. Hopefully, this will inspire you to appreciate your feline buddy even more. Remember, not every cat purrs but this should not water down your affection. You can still communicate with your cat in different ways.


Cat Purr
Cat Communication

Why Do Cats Purr Infographic