Why Do Cats Purr?

Why Do Cats Purr?

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Cats purr because they are happy, right? While this is true, cats purr for reasons aside from showing how content they are. It may be difficult to decipher exactly why your cat is purring, but knowing your cat and these purring stimuli, you may be able to piece together what she is purring about!

Cats Purr When They’re Happy

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

It is no secret that cats purr to show how completely blissed out they are. It is easy to tell if your cat is purring because she is happy. A happy purring cat will look relaxed, perhaps with a still tail and half-awake eyes. If your cat is lounging and purring, chances are she is very at peace with her life.

Cats Purr When They’re Nervous Or Injured

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

You know how some people smile when they are nervous? Turns out, cats purr in the same way humans smile. Cats purr when they are nervous. If you notice your cat’s hair on end and they are going to an unfamiliar place – like the vet – chances are his purring is a nervous habit.

Cat’s nervous purring serves a real biological purpose, too. Studies have shown that the rate at which a purr reverberates through a cat’s body – between 24-140 vibrations per minute – can literally help cats heal themselves. A cat’s purr can ease breathing, reduce swelling, and aid in the speedy healing of bones. 

Cats Purr To Communicate

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Purring is a crucial part of mother-kitten bonding. Kittens are born blind and deaf, but their mother’s purr communicates that they are safe in this new world. Kittens will often reciprocate the purr to their mothers to show their contentment or to signal they are hungry.

Since purring is an innate language, both kittens and cats will use purring to also attract the attention of their human friends. Ever notice how when you are on the phone your cat talks to you? Your cat can’t imagine you talking to anyone else except them!

Cats use a special purr when communicating with their humans. Studies have shown that house cats actually hide a little cry in their purrs when they are saying they want something, like food or attention. This particular type of purr has a similar frequency to that of a crying baby, and scientists believe cats use this purr in order to provoke our nurturing sides.

What Other Animals Purr?

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Your tabby cat isn’t the only animal who engages in the purr. Cat’s relatives, like the mongoose, genets, and even some wildcats, also purr to communicate different emotions and needs. Even animals not related to the cat, such as Gorillas and raccoons, also purr.

Wild cats that roar, however, are not able to purr. And your domestic house cat does not have the ability to roar. This is due to a difference in vocal chord structure. This is why your cat may purr when nervous instead of nervously roaring!

Cat purrs are deceptively intricate. A simple sound that many people write off as a sign of content is actually a primal function that helps communicate a variety of emotions and needs, heals, and insures the survival of offspring.

Is your cat an avid purr-er? Has your cat NEVER purred? Let us know in the comments.