4 Different Reasons Why Cats Purr

Why Cats Purr

photo: Adobe Digital Media

There are several different reasons why Cats purr....make sure you understand the differences . . .

Here we take a look at four different reasons why Cats purr and interesting facts about purring.  Cats make a purring sound on purpose and research has identified different reasons why cats engage in this behavior.  Many humans assume that cats are always happy when they purr and this is not necessarily the case.

4 Reasons Why Cats Purr

1.  Cats do purr when they are happy and in a relaxed state – Cats often purr when humans pet them, leading to an association between purring and pleasure. Observed feline behavior suggests they may also be trying to encourage further interaction and more petting.

Why Cats Purr
photo: Adobe Digital Media
2. Some Cats purr when they are afraid – This explains why cats purr when they are being examined at a veterinary clinic.  The purring serves to comfort a frightened cat and some cats engage in this behavior to calm themselves.

Why Cats Purr
photo: Adobe Digital Media
3.  Some Cats purr when they are injured or in pain – studies have shown that the low-level vibrations of purring physically stimulates feline muscles and bones to keep them healthy and actually speeds up the healing process.  A 2001 study published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America showed that domestic cats and some species of big cats, including pumas and cheetahs, could purr at frequencies optimal for pain relief and even bone repair.  Purring is a form of self-soothing and healing and this is why cats will often purr when they’re injured, or after a stressful event.

Why Cats Purr
photo: Adobe Digital Media
4)   Kittens purr to communicate with momma cat and during feeding – kittens begin purring after just a few days of being born and the purring allows their mothers to know where they are, and to attract mom’s attention at feeding time. Mother cats often purr when giving birth and nursing their kittens.  This behavior continues into adulthood and many humans are treated to a purring session at kitty dinner time.   A study observed that when purring to solicit food, the noise cats made was “more urgent and less pleasant”.  Cats can manipulate their purrs to communicate different things.

Why Cats Purr
photo: Adobe Digital Media

Interesting Facts about Purring

1)  Cats produce purring sounds by using their diaphragm to push air back and forth across vibrating nerves in the larynx.  While cats breathe, they dilate and constrict the glottis, the area around their vocal cords, in a rapid, rhythmic fashion. Purring occurs in a frequency range between 25 and 150 Hertz.  This frequency range aligns with the same frequency that improves healing in humans.  Some effects of this sound frequency include:  the healing of bone and muscle, reduced risk of heart disease, decreasing blood pressure, and lowering signs of dyspnea or shortness of breath.

2)  All domestic cats and most wild cats are born with the ability to purr.

3)  Purring is also good for humans – Studies have validated that hanging around a contented, purring cat does a human body good. The soothing sounds of purring can help people fight disease and cope with chronic conditions. Purring has been linked to playing a role in combating high-blood pressure, decreasing stress, conquering feelings of loneliness and even bolstering self confidence.

4)  Cats can purr while inhaling and exhaling – this is why a purring session makes a constant sound and can last a long duration without interruption.  Purring is possible because of the size and density of the hyoid bone that sits between the tongue and the roof of the mouth or the larynx. The flexibility of this cat bone is what allows the cat to purr when breathing in and out.

5)  A 2009 study found that cats can conceal a cry within their purr that triggers a nurturing instinct in their owners (similar to the cries of a human baby).  This high-pitched mixture of purring and meowing is what experts labeled a “solicitation purr” and is utilized to gain attention or food.

6)  Of course, like most cat behaviors, some cats will purr more than others and there are some cats that will not purr at all.

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