Why Do Cats Purr?

Purring is one of the best sounds a cat parent can hear after a long day. But why do cats purr? Cats purr for many different reasons, including happiness and contentment, stress, sickness, and even hunger.

Snuggling with your cat is one of the highlights of the day. Their purrs have a calming effect after a stressful day at work.

Why do cats purr when you pet them? Even the simple act of stroking a cat can make it purr.

In this article, you’ll discover everything about why cats purr, how they do it, and if it genuinely does mean the sign of a happy cat.

What does it mean when a cat is purring?

Purring is one of the most common sounds a cat makes. But why does a cat purr?

In the past, we used to believe that it was a sign of happiness. However, we’ve learned that purring can mean so much more than pure contentment.

What makes a cat purr?

Wondering “why does the cat purr?” is a common question among cat parents. The most common time that we see this is when they’re happy and content. You’re likely to hear the calming rumble of their body when you’re petting them. Or when they’re relaxing in the sun.

However, purring doesn’t always indicate a happy kitty.

Sometimes, cats do it because they’re nervous or unsure of the situation. We’ll probably never know the real reason why cats purr, or at least not until they invent a translation device.

Still, when considering the situation, we can somewhat guess based on the cat’s sound, such as an urgent purring noise that they may use when they want to be fed.

cat purr

Is purring a sign of happiness?

Cat purring can be a sign of happiness. As we said, it’s common to hear and feel your cat purring during a snuggle session.

Do cats purr when their human isn’t around?

Yes! Can do purr when humans aren’t around. It sounds weird but cats will purr when they are grooming each other. Like when a mother cat cleans her kitten, or when sibling cats lick each other.

Do cats purr when stressed?

Purring cats sometimes do it to relieve stress. You may hear the rumble when you’re transporting them in their carrier or if there’s something new added to their routine. For older cats, purring may also communicate nonaggression to other cats in the household.

Can cats control their purring?

As you’ll learn in the section about how cats purr, they do not control their central nervous system’s signals that tell them to purr.

how do cats purr

7 reasons cats purr

1. Reassurance

Much of the logic behind this sound remains a mystery. But experts concluded it’s a type of communication. It’s often a way for your cat to get reassurance that they aren’t alone.

Your cat may also use it to get your attention. They might purr as a way to check that you haven’t forgotten them. When kitties purr around their mothers, they often do this for the same reason.

2. Healing

An exciting discovery was that these vibrations are ways a cat heals pain. Although it takes energy, it soothes the kitty, a bit like a child sucking their thumb.

Some suggest that it’s a natural healing mechanism.

Low frequency purrs trigger a band of related vibrations. This can heal wounds and bones, build muscles, repair tendons, and decrease swelling.

This may also answer why cats are capable of falling from high places and surviving. Maybe they do have nine lives.

3. Hunger

Cats often use it around mealtime when you bring the bowl out. According to research, the sound felines make when they’re hungry differs from when they’re content. When they’re hungry, their purr sounds like a baby’s cry.

4. Relief

Purring can act as a pain reliever for cats. It may also help them breathe better when in a stressful situation or a simple way a cat soothes itself.

5. Stress

We often associate these rumbles with positive vibes, but it can also be a sign of stress. Studies and research show that purring can be an expression of nervousness, fear, and anxiety. They may purr after being startled or even after being chased.

6. Contentment

You know when your cat is content. They’ll lay on their perch, legs relaxed, eyes half-closed sounding that calming purr. There’s nothing like it.

7. Communication among multiple cats

Cats will purr as they groom each other.

When a cat is fearful, she may growl to tell the other cat to stay away. If you live with multiple cats, you may see this behavior between one or more ‘siblings.’

Why do cats purr and knead?

Kneading or making biscuits is something cats start when they’re born. The kneading motion around their mom’s nipples stimulates milk flow. Kneading becomes a way for them to attain that maternal warmth and security.

Most of the time, this triggers purring, indicating a state of contentment.

Why do some cats purr, and then bite you!

Biting usually happens when your cat becomes overstimulated. This can happen during a petting session. In the beginning, your cat seems to be enjoying all the attention but at a certain point, and this is different for every cat, your kitty may have had enough.

At this point, they might bite you as a warning to stop petting them. Listen to your cat and give them a break.

How do cats purr?

It’s only natural to wonder why cats purr. Purring is a unique vocal feature in the domestic cat. However, other species in the Felidae family External also purr Bobcat, Cheetah, Eurasian Lynx, Puma, and Wild Cats.

How (And Why) Do Cats Purr?

Vibrating laryngeal muscles

Purring begins in the brain. Here, it’s a neural oscillator sending messages to the laryngeal muscles: these help control vocals and breathing.

The messages from the neural oscillator cause the laryngeal muscles to twitch. This occurs at a rate of 25 to 150 vibrations per second.

This prompts the vocal cords to separate when the cat inhales and exhales, thus creating a purr. 

how do cats purr lions

Do lions purr too?

Although lions are cats too, they can’t vibrate their vocal cords like a domestic cat.

What allows a feline to create this sound is the stiffness of the laryngeal muscles. In big cats, however, the muscles aren’t stiff enough, inhibiting them from purring.

Instead of purring, lions, leopards, tigers, and jaguars can roar. The flexible ligaments in their neck allow them to produce those deep, harrowing roars.

how do cats purr kitten

Why do kittens purr?

Kittens begin to purr when they’re just days old. Veterinarians suggest that this purring tells ‘Mom’ that “I am okay” and that “I am here.” It indicates a clear bonding mechanism between the kitten and mother.


Kittens do this to communicate their needs to their mother. Just as adult cats vibrate their vocal cords around mealtime, kittens might do the same.

Mother-kitten bond

Purring is a way that kittens bond with their mother, who may use it as a lullaby.


Similar to adult cats, kittens use it to express comfort. When they’re content and happy, you’re likely to hear that relaxing rumble.

cat purr healing

The mysterious healing power of the purr

We’ve already established that purring heals the cat. But purrs are suitable for people too.

If you’ve ever come home to your cat following a stressful day, you know how calming your cat’s purring can be. As they walk around your legs, you may instantly feel at peace. Yet cat purring can relieve much more than a stressful workday.

The magic of 25 and 150 hertz

Cats purr at a frequency of between 25 and 150 hertz. This is the same frequency that scientists use in vibrational therapy.

It may support tissue regeneration by helping bones and muscles heal. So, in theory, a cat’s low-frequency vibes can help with healing.

Reduce your risk of a heart attack

Having a cat at home might reduce your risk of a heart attack.

Experts revealed that cat owners have a smaller chance of heart disease than people who don’t have pets. Cats may also help reduce the risk of stroke.

Lowers blood pressure

Interacting with your cat and merely hearing them purr can lower your blood pressure. The calming effects may also reduce stress.

Lowers stress and calms cat parents

Experts believe cat lovers share a common theme of low stress and anxiety levels. This may positively affect their mental health.

Healing by association

This circles back to the vibration the cat produces during a purr. Scientists suggest that a purring cat can improve bone density.

Kitten Therapy: The Prescription for Stress

Key takeaways on why cats purr

Why do cats purr? It’s a common question, and for a long time, we thought it was a simple sign of contentment. Science, however, has revealed that purring is a form of communication.

Cats may use it when they’re hungry, stressed, or even for reassurance. The vibrations also have therapeutic effects for both you and your cat.

Enjoy those purring rumbles as they do much more than simply lift your mood.


Alina Prax