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How Do Cats Purr And Why?

May 11, 2021

How Do Cats Purr And Why?

If you consider yourself a cat person, you’ll know what a great feeling it can be when a cat purrs at you.

Cats can tend to make their owners work a little harder for their affection than dogs do, so it’s very rewarding to see them respond to your attention by lying down, relaxing and purring with contentment.

But cat owners know that unfortunately, purring doesn’t always signal positive emotions.

So what is purring in cats, and what else makes a cat purr?

Take a look at our quick guide to cats and purring below:


How do cats make the purring sound?

The truth is, there’s no absolute answer as to why cats purr, as scientists still aren’t completely sure where purring comes from. 

A number of theories exist about how cats purr, but the most likely explanation is that they use their throat muscles to repeatedly open and close the space between the vocal cords. This produces air vibrations and consequently a purring sound as they breathe in and out.

It is usually quite easy to identify when a cat is purring. They will make a soft buzzing sound and their body will actually visibly vibrate. You will also notice that they’re able to keep producing this sound whether they are breathing in or out.

It’s also worth noting that a number of other animals make sounds similar to purring, including bears, foxes, raccoons, rabbits and even gorillas.


Does purring always mean a cat is happy?

Purring is most commonly associated with contentment, as many cats purr when they are being petted and stroked. We can assume that in this case purring is a positive sign, as they will remain relaxed, often with their eyes closed and their tail quite still, and let you carry on petting them.

However, it’s important to be aware that cat purring can also signify many other emotions, including nervousness, fear and stress. 

Cats often communicate with humans by vocalising, probably because they have learned over time that this is one of the best ways to get our attention. Similar to a newborn baby, they might purr to demand you meet a specific need.

For example, when your cat purrs they might be trying to tell you that they’re hungry. Alternatively, it might be their way of emotionally responding to a stressful experience.

Another important purpose of purring is as part of the bond between a mother cat and her kittens. The mother will purr to soothe and comfort them, and they will purr to let her know where they are.


Is it good for cats when they purr?

So we know that cats purr to communicate or express a variety of emotions, but does purring serve any other purpose?

It’s widely accepted that cats also purr when experiencing physical pain, such as following an injury or during an illness. For example, cats are known to purr during the early stages of labour. 

This might be because they intuitively know that purring can be an effective relaxation and pain-relief technique, but it’s likely there’s even more to it than that.

Fascinatingly, it’s believed that the vibrations produced when a cat purrs actually help their bodies to heal and recover from physical trauma. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to vibrations at just the right frequency can promote bone health and help muscles and tendons to repair themselves more quickly.

Its possible benefits to cat health are considered to be so significant that one researcher even concluded that purring should be ‘stimulated as much as possible when cats are ill or under duress’ since it ‘could even save their life’.


How do I encourage my cat to purr?

Since evidence suggests that purring is so good for cats, one of the best things we can do as owners to help them stay healthy and happy could be giving them as many opportunities to purr with contentment as possible.

At DakPets, our favourite way to help cats feel happy is to pet them with a grooming glove. Pet grooming gloves aren’t just an excellent alternative to traditional grooming tools - they’re also a convenient and user-friendly way to give your cat a deeply relaxing massage, which is sure to get them purring to their heart’s content.

Aside from grooming, your cat will feel more comfortable and content if they are allowed to lie down wherever they choose. As long as they are safe (and not completely in the way!), try not to disturb them when they are lying down, as this will help them to feel safe and relaxed.

Another trick you can try that could get you in your cat’s good books is to bring them their favourite toys and other objects you know they are interested in. This is a fun way of spending quality time with them too.


What if my cat never purrs?

Like us humans, all cats are individuals with unique personalities. Whilst all healthy cats are likely to have purred as kittens, some will continue to do so very regularly as adults, and some will seem to never or rarely purr.

Don’t get disheartened if your cat isn’t very vocal, as it isn’t necessarily an indicator that they are not content - it just might be their disposition. 

Similarly, some cats may purr much more loudly than others - again, it’s nothing to worry about if your cat is a little quieter than others.

As far as purring is concerned, there’s usually no need to worry unless your cat seems distressed or their behaviour changes without explanation. If in doubt, it’s best to always consult a veterinarian.

We hope you’ve found this quick guide to cat purring helpful. To get your cat purring with some quality bonding time, try our range of cat grooming tools.

To learn more about cat behaviour, check out why your cat bites you when you stroke them and how to read your cat’s body language.


Try DakPets Pet Grooming Line!

Your pets will love it.

Click here to get DakPets Pet Grooming products today.


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