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Why Does My Cat Purr?

There’s no greater sign of your cat’s love than the sound of purring, like a little motor running, as you scratch his head and stroke his fur. Because purring means your cat loves you, right?

Maybe not.

Purring could mean something different than you think.

Why Do Cats Purr?

Cats can purr when experiencing:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Affection

They can even purr while giving birth to kittens!

Cats are considered “masters of disguise” when it comes to their emotions. Yours may be domesticated now, but his species used to be wild, and some wild instincts have stayed with him. Although domestic cats are often viewed as predatory threats to birds, squirrels, and mice, they’re also naturally prey to other, larger animals. Your feline’s instinct is to stay safe, and that means hiding illness and injuries. He’s more likely to be seen as an easy target if he appears sick or slow. This can make it difficult to interpret what he’s really feeling, even when he purrs.

It’s believed that purring helps a cat heal and experience pain relief. The theory is that the low-frequency vibrations produced by the purr can help wounds heal quickly, help bones repair, and even give your kitty relief from pain. A cat’s purr is more than a method for communication; it’s also a mechanism for comfort and healing.

Don’t worry! Even though your cat can purr when he’s in pain, most of the time, domestic cats do so as a sign of contentment, especially at times when you show them affection.

Note: Purring alone isn’t a definitive sign that something is wrong (After all, they do it when they’re happy too!), but if your cat has taken to hiding, not eating, going to the bathroom outside the litter box, or any other behavior that’s abnormal for him, it might be time to seek an expert opinion. You know your pet best. Ask your veterinarian if you have any concerns about his behavior.

When Do Cats Begin Purring?

Kittens start purring at just a few days old and usually continue purring throughout their lifetimes. Because cats are born blind and dependent, they purr to communicate with their mothers, letting them know, “I’m here, and I’m hungry!”

How Do Cats Purr?

Purring is a result of many parts of your cat coming together:

  • The larynx (vocal cords)
  • The laryngeal muscles (These control the vocal cords.)
  • The neural oscillator (brainwaves)

As your cat breathes in and out, his larynx separates and vibrates. That’s what creates the sound you hear. It can vibrate between 25 to 150 times per second!

Are There Different Types of Cat Purrs?

It would be helpful if your cat’s purring sounded different based on his mood or physical state, but a cat’s purr is produced and vocalized in the same way regardless of how he truly feels.

The good news is, you don’t have to rely on your cat’s purr to understand how he feels! Cats use several other verbal and nonverbal methods to communicate with us.

Have you heard your cat caterwaul, growl, or chirrup? Check out this list of cat vocalizations. Your cat may be communicating with you in more ways than you think!



Which Cat Breeds Purr the Most?

Do you find the sound of a cat’s purr soothing and peaceful? Do you love when your kitty “speaks” to you? Then you should consider a cat breed that’s known for purring and being vocal.

According to Purina®, some of the most “vocal” breeds include:

  • Oriental
  • Tonkinese
  • Singapura
  • Burmese
  • Japanese bobtail
  • Siamese
  • Siberian
  • Turkish Angora
  • Maine coon

And if you want a cat that purrs really loudly, you might get lucky with a British shorthair breed like Smokey, the cat that purrs louder than a lawn mower. Smokey’s owner admits,

“It’s either adorable or annoying, depending on what mood you’re in. You don’t even have to stroke her to start a purring session. Often she’ll do it for no reason.”

Good luck trying to get some z’s at night!

To All the Cat Lovers…

Dog owners may say there’s nothing like coming home to happy-go-lucky pup that licks their face as they walk through the door. But as a proud cat owner, you know your fur baby is uniquely awesome in ways you still may not understand. Cats like to keep things interesting! While they may not show their love and affection for you with kisses and puppy-dog eyes, you know they care.

Want to know more about your cat’s behavior? Schedule an appointment to chat with one of our vets! We’ll help you crack the code.

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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