Cats and kittens are pets to thousands of happy pet owners, many of whom love to snuggle with them. All too often it is assumed that if a cat purrs it is because he or she is feeling happy. However, recent research suggests this is not always the case. In fact, the latest studies show that we know more about other sounds a cat makes (such as hissing and chattering) than we do about purring. So, what exactly does it mean when a cat purrs? Below is a breakdown of the many different reasons a cat or kitten will purr.
Cats Purr When Expressing Happiness
One main reason cats purr is that they are happy. Purring might happen when they’re curled up in your lap or even while making a new home in the laundry basket! Maybe they do it when they have a hold of their favorite toy. Regardless of the activity, if your cat is happy and content they will purr to show you how they feel.
Cats Purr to Show a Need
Since cats don’t communicate with words, they have to use other means to show what they want. Purring is one such method of communicating. Whether they are waiting for their food or sitting patiently waiting for a treat, a purring cat is showing you they want something. It’s not a sign of happiness to receive the treat, rather they are letting you know that they want the treat. This can also apply to toys and attention. Even if your kitty just wants some attention from you, he or she might purr to let you know what they want.
Cats Purr While Giving Birth
Female cats often purr while giving birth. This is both an act of protection by letting people know to give her some space, and also allows the release of endorphins which help ease the pain. Predators are more apt to attack animals that scream and cry out in pain, but they aren’t as likely to notice a gentle purring.
Cats Purr to Bond
Just as human babies cry to show their need for bonding time with their mothers, purring is a way in which kittens bond with their mother. This begins only a few days after the kittens are born. Newborn kittens are born both deaf and blind, and the act of purring from the mother allows them to feel the soothing vibrations of her body and know that she is there. As the kittens age, they begin to communicate back to their mother through purring.
Cats Purr While Exercising
Have you ever played close attention to your cat playing with his or her toys? He or she may sprint a few laps then pounce on a ball and begin to purr. The reason for this is that cats actually purr during certain low-key exercises. Newer studies suggest that the simple act of purring may stimulate muscles and bones. So, the next time you throw your kitty’s favorite toy, the purring might be because of the exercise versus out of happiness.
Purring Speeds Healing
The latest scientific research suggests that the act of purring actually helps cats to heal more quickly. Purring emits a low frequency of vibrations that can help them in a variety of ways.
- Help heal bones
- Heal wounds
- Build muscle
- Repair tendons
- Ease breathing
- Lessen pain
- Decrease swelling
It is also interesting to note that cats have fewer complications after undergoing surgery compared to dogs.
Other Species That Purr
When most people think of cats, they think of that cute purring sound when a cat is happy. However, cats aren’t the only species that have the ability to purr. It has been discovered that although they are part of the cat family, lions, leopards, and tigers do not purr. However, cheetahs and cougars do.
So the next time your cat begins to purr do not assume that he or she is happy. Keep in mind that because cats do not communicate as humans do, they need to use purring to get across their thought and needs. Of course, if all needs have been met, rest assured that your adorable cat is simply giving you a purr of contentment.