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Why Do Cats Purr? Here Are 5 Possible Reasons

Why do cats purr?  We haven’t entirely solved this great mystery, but we do have some possible answers.  You can find out what they are!

Have you ever asked, “Why do cats purr”?  This common question has more than one answer.  In this article, we are going to go over some reasons why cats purr.   

Photo by Nirzar Pangarkar from Unsplash

How Do Cats Purr?

Before we jump into the why, let’s talk about how cats purr.  

This unique sound is caused by the larynx and diaphragm muscles. As felines breathe in and out, these muscles produce a vibration that makes a purring sound.  

Why Do Cats Purr? 

The fact that cats purr during times of pleasure and distress makes us scratch our heads and wonder, what does purring really mean?

We can’t say for sure, but there are some possible reasons.  Those reasons are listed below.     

They Are Happy

Most people associate purring with pleasure. They assume a purring kitty is a happy one.  

Although that’s not always true, it often appears to be that way.  Cats will purr while nursing, grooming, being pet, resting in the cat bed, and hanging out with their people.  

They Are Bonding with Their Mother

Kitten purring begins before the kittens are separated from their mother.  It’s their way of bonding and communicating with the mother.    

Photo by Was Austin from Unsplash

They Are Distressed

Purring isn’t always a sign of contentment.  Sometimes, cats purr when they are injured or scared. 

Why?

Possibly because purring soothes them, helping them cope with traumatic situations.  For example, it’s not uncommon for cats to purr while visiting the veterinarian.  

They Are HUNGRY!

Cats might also purr when they get hungry.  This type of purr is a bit different from the normal purring noise.  

It almost sounds like a baby crying, which makes us humans more likely to take notice and feed them.    

It’s Good for Their Bones 

You probably never would have guessed, but purring may be good for your cat’s bones.  This is because the average purring frequency is 25 – 150 Hertz, the ideal range for promoting bone regeneration.  

And it kind of makes sense, when you think about it.  After all, we humans need some physical impacts that slightly stress our bodies.  That stress produces stronger bones and muscles.     

Cats are the same way.  Because they spend so much time sleeping and sitting, they need to counteract the negative effects of that sedentary lifestyle.    

Purring may accomplish that because it, “is a low energy mechanism that stimulates muscles and bones without using a lot of energy” (Lyons, 2003). 

Photo by Manki Kim from Unsplash

In Conclusion

Although it would be far simpler if cats only purred while happy, stressed, or hungry, it’s a bit more complicated than that.  

We don’t have all the answers, but we do know that cats purr for more than one reason.  And we can use our knowledge of cat body language to figure out why a cat is purring in a particular situation.  

For example, cats that appear to be relaxed are probably purring to communicate contentment.  But cats that purr at the vet are probably saying they are stressed.

The better you know your kitty and understand feline body language, the easier it will be to interpret your cat’s purring.