Why Exactly Do Cats Purr?

  • 31 March 2017
  • Pet Wants

Cat owners often find comfort when near a purring cat, and many would agree that a purr seems to denote a happy feline. However, it’s no coincidence that common opinion labels cats as mysterious. While scientists aren’t even 100 percent sure how it happens, cats purr for different reasons.


While kittens come into the world deaf and blind, they feel vibrations. This means that purring is an early method of communication between the mother cat and her kittens. Her purr allows them to find her body for nourishment and warmth. Both are vital to their survival.

Kittens start purring when they are only two days old to communicate with their mom and litter mates. Even after they become adults, purring still denotes comfort, safety and the promise of food.

Soothing Effects

Because purring releases endorphins, a natural feel-good chemical, cats use this action to soothe themselves and to help control pain. That’s why felines purr when they’re sick, nervous, in labor or when close to passing on. They also use it to pacify potential opponents, especially when there’s no escape route. Older cats do it when approaching other felines as a signal of friendliness and as an invitation to come closer.

The Soliciting Purr

Cats reportedly have learned how to manipulate this noise to get what they want. According to a British study at the University of Sussex, felines have learned to couple this pleasing sound with cries akin to human baby sounds. If you ignore the behavior known as the soliciting purr,  cats will increase the high frequency until they get what they want, which is usually cat food.


Since the vibration frequency of purrs falls between 25 to 150 hertz, the same rate that assists in bone mending and physical healing, purring might function as a type of physical therapy for cats. When a cat is resting or napping while purring, he might be keeping his bones healthy and strong. In a nutshell, purring is thought to increase bone density.

When Purring is Not Beneficial

As endearing as this sound might be, sometimes purring is not beneficial. Such is the case when a veterinarian is trying to conduct an exam and can’t hear the lungs or heart over the noise. Since most felines cease to purr in the proximity of running water, turning the faucet on will usually make them stop.

Keep in mind that cats come with their own personalities, so they all purr at different levels. Some do it loudly and often while others purr rarely or softly. Unless your usually vocal furry friends stopped purring all of a sudden, there is no need for concern when they don’t exhibit this behavior.

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