Because they’re really happy and settled, right? And yes, cats do purr when they’re sitting with you being fussed over and played with, but if you keep a careful eye on your faithful pet, you’ll notice that they purr at what might seem the ‘wrong’ time when they shouldn’t be happy or comfortable. A cat’s purr can be a lot like a human’s nervous smile, so they could be happy, but they could also be feeling scared or threatened, so just be aware of the situation.

cat purring

The truth is that no one really knows why or even exactly how cats purr, but it is recognized that there’s much more to a purr than just noise, and it’s not just the cat that benefits from the power of purring, you do too, making cats one of the best pets for keeping their human healthy.

Big Cats Can’t Purr

You need a stiff larynx to purr and many big cats don’t have that and only smaller cats have that. Small cats with larynx problems don’t seem able to purr either.  Big cats roar to protect their pride and territories whereas smaller cats tend to be more solitary when they’re hunting so they don’t need to compete for prey and scent marking their territories means they don’t need to roar.

Kittens In Conversation With Mummy

Kittens are born blind and deaf, but they can feel the vibration of purring, so it helps them to know they are safe and they quickly learn to purr themselves so that they can communicate where they are and that they are happy.

Cats Communicating With Each Other

Purring is quiet, much quieter than meowing, but the vibrations also release endorphins, so purring can calm cats if they find themselves in stressful situations such as confrontation in the wild.

Yes, They Are Talking To You

Research has shown that a cat’s purr isn’t just a random noise, it has a similar sound frequency to a human baby’s cries and can also hide a plaintive cry that pulls on a human’s caring instinct, so may well have been specially adapted to appeal to a human’s innate tendency to nurture offspring. So your faithful puss really is telling you that it’s time for food or fuss.

kittens purr

The Healing Properties Of Purring For Your Cat

Research has shown that the vibrations caused by purring actually have healing properties. The vibrations can:

  • Promote healing of bone damage
  • Ease breathing
  • Reduce swelling and pain in muscles and tendons

Which explains why cats will purr when they’re clearly in pain or are feeling under the weather.

Purring Isn’t just Good for Cats

Extensive research has shown that cats are amongst the best pets for providing healing to their owners.

Hearing your cat purr as he sits on your lap and you stroke him provides an auditory stimulus to humans that encourages peacefulness, calmness and relaxation, this is likely to be because the sound of purring seems to mimic quiet and peaceful breathing, giving you the cue to calm your own breathing.

Cats are also great for relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, relieving pain from swelling or muscle injuries and helping heal broken bones. Research has shown that the good vibrations from purring that help healing injuries in a cat can also benefit those around them, the vibrations affect your bones too, so if you want to maintain good health or help treat an existing condition encourage your precious pet onto your lap for a cuddle alongside your regular medication or treatment.

Knowing Your Cat So You Can Check They’re Happy and Not Hurt

You know your cat better than anyone, so you will be able to tell whether their purr is because they’re happy and content or because there’s something not quite right. If they’re hidden away in a quiet spot they may have had some kind of accident and be in pain; if they sound a bit wheezy or the pitch of the purr is unusual they may be suffering from a cold, an allergic reaction or perhaps an infection or dental problem. There may be a new cat in the neighbourhood trying to assert its authority over your cat’s established territory. A purring cat that’s clearly not comfortable either physically or mentally is certainly not happy.

If you have any concerns about the health and welfare of your cat, visit your vet and get him checked out to rule out any obvious medical causes.

Sources

  1. Why do cats purr?, Mother Nature Network
  2. Why Do Cats Purr?, Indipendent
Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!

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