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Why Do Cats Purr? It’s Not Just Because They’re Happy

The purr of a cat is magical. Purring, like all things magical, perplexes us since we haven’t figured out the complete secret underlying those rumbles.

While the how remains a mystery, humans are beginning to understand why cats purr. We all know that a purr may be a deep rumble of joy, but we also know that purring offers cats with a stress-relieving mechanism as well as a body-healing tool.

“It is probable that purring is a low energy technique that stimulates muscles and bones without consuming a lot of energy,” says Elizabeth von Muggenthaler of the Fauna Communications Research Institute, because cats spend a lot of time at rest in order to store energy for the hunt.

More proof that cats are masters of evolution!

(h/t: iheartcats)

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Purring is a cat activity that we’re all familiar with, but how much do we actually know about it? Continue reading to find out how and why cats purr, or at least as much as our feline enigmas have yet to reveal!

What makes cats purr?

Purring is still a mystery to us because we haven’t worked out how cats do it. Purring isn’t something cats do with a specific organ. However, the most widely accepted explanation for the riddle is that cats purr by vibrating their voice boxes.

Purring is thought to occur in the following way, according to Pets WebMD:

  • First, a brainwave is sent to the muscles of the larynx via “a rhythmic, repeated neural oscillator” that is unique to felines.
  • The muscles begin to vibrate at a “pace of 25 to 150 vibrations per second (Hz)” which causes the cords to separate.
  • During breath and expiration, these brainwave-activated vibrations continue the separation of the cords and produce the repetitive noise that lulls cat lovers into a pleasant reverie.

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While this is still just a theory, science is intrigued by the purring mystery and is still looking for the exact solution to this feline enchantment.

What causes a cat to purr?


Cats normally have perfected their purring talents by the time we meet them, but did you know kittens can’t purr at birth? Kittens cannot hear or sight, but they can feel their mother’s purr. Kittens begin to purr in reaction to their moms and siblings around the age of two days. Purring is one of the first ways a cat expresses herself to the outside world.

A cat will continue to purr to communicate with you and other cats as she grows older. But what exactly are cats purring about?

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Much of the time, that little motor is telling you:




With those deep rumbles of delight, your cat is telling you all of this and more. You’re a human worthy of the effort if you’re rewarded with a purr of satisfaction. You’ve provided two of a cat’s favorite things: security and comfort!

Cats, on the other hand, can use purring to indicate a need for comfort.

“Making sure your cat is actually purring and not chirping, hissing, growling or howling, caterwaul, or the prosodic of the sound in conjunction with the overall environment and situation tells a lot about the vocalization,” Dr. Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, Fear Free Certified animal behaviorist with told Parade. You can’t just listen to a sound without considering the whole cat and its body language.”

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If you hear your furry pet purring yet she appears agitated, upset, or scared, it’s a warning that something is wrong. Your kitty needs to be consoled.


When cats are sick, stressed, or injured, they purr. Hearing a distressed cat purr may seem counterintuitive, but the low rumble helps cats relax. Cats utilize purring as a pacifier, similar to how children use thumb-sucking or clutching a blankie.

When it’s time to visit the veterinarian, this purring to soothe behavior is frequently observed. Cats are highly stressed when they are forced to leave their territory and are exposed to unfamiliar humans and animals. If you’ve ever heard your cat purring at the vet, it’s likely that he’s not joyful, but rather trying to console himself.

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What role does purring play in a cat’s comfort? When humans pet their cats, the low frequencies of purring are known to produce a more serene mood, but it turns out that the purr also soothes the cat. Cats are said to be consoled by purring because it brings back memories of maternal comfort from their kittenhood. Furthermore, the low vibrational range has been shown to have a therapeutic impact on cat bodies, allowing them to recover from stress, illness, or injury with ease.

It provides comfort to humans as well. We can also relax by holding or touching a purring cat. Our purry pals reduce our chances of getting cardiovascular disease caused by stress by lowering our stress levels and blood pressure.

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Purring can help you heal

Remember how felines purr at frequencies ranging from 25 to 150 vibrations per second? Here’s an interesting natural link to consider. In both feline and human bodies, bone, muscle, and other tissue mending happens at similar rates. “Vibrations between 20-140 Hz are therapeutic for bone growth/fracture healing, pain alleviation/swelling reduction, wound healing, muscle growth and repair/tendon repair, joint mobility, and the easing of dyspnea,” according to a Fauna Communications research of cat purrs.

While its origins are unknown, the purr has powerful healing properties!

Cat purrs: Some interesting facts

  • Smaller cats, such as domestic cats, bobcats, lynxes, cheetahs, and pumas, have a distinct rumble.
  • Big cats, such as lions and tigers, have partially ossified hyoid bones, which researchers believe prevents them from purring. Smaller cats’ hyoid bones are entirely hardened, which could be a contributing role in the rumbling sound.
  • In order to self-soothe, mothers in labor purr during giving birth.
  • A certain frequency of purring is comparable to that of a baby’s cry. Some people believe cats originated the purr as a way to attract human attention.

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Now that you know the science of purring, it’s time to use goodies and chin scritches to make your cat purr! We hope this information will be useful to make your pet feel safe and happy.


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