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Why do cats purr?

Have you ever wondered why your cat purrs and what it means?
Why do cats purr?

Purring is the sweet and soft vibrating noise of a cat. It comes from the cat’s larynx, which surrounds its vocal chords. As a cat purrs, part of its larynx is restricted and vibrates the surrounding air, creating a purring sound. 

Purring is the most common sound cats make. Some cats purr softly, others purr loudly - for some, it's a gentle murmur, while for others, you can hear them through the walls! Normally, we humans think cats make this sound when they are happy and relaxed. But there are also other reasons why cats purr. 

It starts when they are kittens 

When your cat was a tiny kitten, they would have started to purr when they were just a few days old. On returning to the den, their mother would purr to quietly let them know that she was home and that all was well, without alerting predators. The kittens purr back in return, helping mum to find them and letting her know they are feeling okay. It also helps the two of them to build a strong bond. From an early age, purring is something your cat does to signify their comfort and to communicate. 

Does purring mean my cat is happy?  

We assume purring is the noise cats make when they are happy and calm. If their eyes are soft and their tail is relaxed while enjoying a stroke or a cuddle, this is probably the case. 


Time for a meal 

Cat’s purr when they are ready for their dinner, sometimes accompanied by a mewing noise. If you hear this purring/ mewing combination, it might be time to get them a bowl of food! 


Feeling pain 

Sometimes, when cats are uncomfortable or in pain, they can purr as a way of soothing and comforting themselves. Think of how a child may suck their thumb if they feel unwell. Cats do the same by purring. 


Getting better 

When cats injure themselves after being out on their adventures, it is believed purring can help speed up the healing process. The vibrations that come from purring can help to ease breathing and decrease swelling and pain. It also helps heal wounds and repair muscle injuries. 

It’s true to say, we can’t be entirely sure why cats purr. It appears to depend on the cat and the situation they find themselves in. Compared to studies on dogs, currently, very little is known about feline psychology and behaviour. But hopefully, this will change into the future as more studies are undertaken into our fabulous felines so we can learn more about how they see the world. 


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