September 28, 2023 3 min read

As any cat owner knows, a purring cat is one of life’s greatest joys. Sitting with a content cat purring in your lap brings happiness and comfort to many people. But why do cats purr? There are several reasons why a cat might purr, not just because they are happy.

Before we jump into whyyour cat is purring, let’s start by learning some facts about how a cat purrs. Purring is caused by the vibration of a cat’s vocal cords when they breathe. Kittens learn how to purr when they are just a couple of days old, making purring one of the earliest things a cat will learn how to do. Not every cat will purr the same amount, some cats may not purr at all. Some cats will purr louder than others. Any variation of purring is normal for cats as every cat is unique. Just like people have different voices, cats will have different sounding meows and purrs. Cats purr at frequencies between 25 and 150 Hz. A cat’s purr will average around 25 decibels. (The world record for the loudest cat purr is 67.8 decibels!) Purring is a totally normal behavior for cats and there are multiple reasons for it.

Now that we’ve gone over the how, let’s jump into the reasons why your cat might purr:


Your Cat is Feeling Happy and Content

Cats purr when they are happy and content. A happy purr is the most common purr for a cat. When their person pets them or when they snuggle with something they love, a cat might purr in happiness. You can tell your cat is content by the way they look when they purr. A happy purr will be accompanied by your cat looking relaxed or a pleased or dreamy expression as they cuddle up with you.


Your Cat is Communicating with You

Wanting attention is another reason a cat may purr at you. Kittens learn to purr when they are very young, before they even open their eyes. Learning to purr gives them a way to communicate with their mother, and for their mother to let them know she is there. Your cat might purr at you when they want something, like attention or food. If your cat is purring at you and simultaneously meowing at you, head butting or rubbing their body against you, they probably want something from you. They might want you to pet them or they might want food.


Your Cat is Scared or Hurt

Purring isn’t always a response to something positive. Sometimes cats will purr when they are scared or hurt. Purring can be self-soothing for cats. If they’re scared, like when they go to the veterinarian for instance, they might purr. They might be trying to signal to you that they are in distress or need help. Purring has also been suggested to help with healing when a cat is injured. The frequency at which a cat purrs corresponds with the frequencies used in the treatment of fractures and pain. It’s important to pay attention when your cat is purring to see if there are other signs of distress or pain that may be an indicator your cat needs to see a vet.


The important thing to remember is purring is a normal and generally positive behavior for cats. You should keep an eye out for other signs that might indicate your cat is in pain if they seem to be purring in distress. However, if your cat is not displaying any signs of distress, they are most likely just trying to talk to you or showing you they are happy. If your cat is happy, you should be too and enjoy the purrs together!


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