Along with meowing, purring is one of the most common sounds that you associate with a cat, but why do cats purr? It’s well known that cats purr as a sign of happiness or contentment, but don’t assume this is the only reason why cats purr. There’s a number of reasons why cats purr that you probably didn’t even know.
In this post we will look at how cats purr, how purring helps humans, cat purring facts, and answer the question of why do cats purr?
How do cats purr?
Before we look at reasons why cats purr, let’s first take a look at the mechanics of how a cat purrs. Research has shown that muscles within a cats larynx move the vocal cords which produces a sound. The sound is produced as they breath in and out which causes the air to vibrate against the muscles.
Although this is the case according to scientific research, they are still not 100% certain of what actually triggers the response. One theory is the neural oscillator which to date has no clear purpose and is found deep within a cats brain.
A new purr has also been identified during research called the ‘solicitation purr’. You may of experienced this when your cat is hungry or when you have food that they want. The normal-sounding purr is altered and becomes louder and more desperate, more like an urgent ‘cry-like’ sound. The frequency of this purr is similar to a crying baby. This makes us want to instinctively help them by rushing for you cats favorite treats.
Why Do Cats Purr?
As previously mentioned, most cat owners associate purring with their cat being happy and content. Although this is true, there are also a number of other reasons your cat purrs when trying to communicate other emotional needs.
#1 She’s Happy
Starting off with the most obvious answer, your cat purrs because they are happy. If your cat is purring with a still tail and their eyes half closed, you can assume that your cat is very happy and content.
#2 They Are Hungry
Cats will generally purr when they are hungry and looking for a meal. The sound of the hunger purr is a bit different to the regular purr. It is more of a cry-like sound that is a bit louder and known as the ‘solicitation purr’. We spoke about this in one of the sections above. Experts believe that us cat owners are more likely to respond to this as the frequency of this purr is similar to a crying baby.
#3 Kitten-Mother Connection
Purring begins when your cat is only just a few days old. The sound of purring helps them to be located by their mother when it’s time to be fed. As purring is a very calming sound, it is used by the mother as a lullaby for their kitten. Overall, purring helps to build a great bond between the two of them.
#4 Relief and Healing
Although purring is a sign of calm and happiness, cats also purr when they are stressed or in pain. The closest thing to compare this too is like when a child sucks their thumb which gives them comfort and a sense of security. Purring when in pain is a cats way of soothing itself. Here are some purring facts that will amaze you:
- Heal bones and wounds: The low frequency of purrs which range from 20Hz up to 150Hz can help promote bone growth.
- Build muscle and repair tendons
- Lessen pain and swelling
- Ease breathing
How does cat purring help humans?
Purring is not only great for your cat, but it is also surprisingly beneficial for humans. Some people may know this and others may not, but owning a cat is a great way to relieve stress. The positive effects of purring can also reduce the risk of stroke or heart disease by one-third. Interacting with cats can also help to lower blood pressure.
Listening to a cats purr is a calming stimulus, similar to that of listening to the sound of the waves when on the beach.
What if my cat doesn’t purr?
What you must understand is that all cats purr at different volumes. Just because you have never heard your cat purr, it doesn’t mean that they don’t, because some cats purr in complete silence. You can tell if your cat is purring by placing your hand on their throat or neck to feel for any vibrations.
Domestic cats are more likely to be purrers than feral cats. The theory behind this is that purring is discouraged by their mothers as a safety measure so they do not attract predators. They usually purr as kittens, but then purring and even meowing gets completely abandoned as they reach adulthood.
If your cat doesn’t purr or even does it silently, don’t worry about it too much. All cats are very unique and different and this is normal.
Check out the video below of the loudest purring cat who broke a world record.
Hope you enjoyed this post on why do cats purr and they you know have a better understanding of reading exactly how your cat is feeling.