• Shannon McKinzie

Why Is It That Cat's Purr?

Why is it that cat's purr? There are several reasons which include:

· Contentment

· Self-medication

· Self-calming

· Momma guiding kittens

How Cat's Purr

According to Dr. Sandra Mitchell, DVM, when cats purr, it signals the muscles of the voice box and the diaphragm which expands the chest when breathing. These signals stimulate a cat’s vocal cords to vibrate. So as the cat breathes in and out, the air moves across these twitching muscles, resulting in a purring sound.

Cats purr both while inhaling and exhaling, so the sound is nearly continuous.

Purring may have developed in the feline as a mechanism to keep bones and muscles in peak condition. This is helpful during the lengthy periods of inactivity in their style of hunting, which is to wait for prey to come by and then ambush it.

In fact, some larger cats that purr include the Cheetah, Bobcat, Puma and Eurasian Lynx to name a few.

Purring in Contentment

Why is it that cat's purr in contentment? Oh the joy when your cat happily snuggles up with you and, you are both purring with contentment! Cat's purrs when receiving your affection creates this contentment; happiness serves as a communication by purring. They are letting you know how good they feel about what is happening.

With these positive interactions with you, it is possible that they associate with them their purrs. When they purr, you continue to pet them. It’s almost as if they are training you!


Cats also use purring as self-medication and pain control.

Cats purr at frequencies that help to stimulate healing, particularly of bones and tendons. The frequency may also help reduce pain, ease breathing, and build muscles, among other health benefits. Another interesting reason why is it that cat's purr.


Cats are thought to use purring as a mechanism for self-calming and stress reduction —sort of the kitty version of repeating a mantra, or melody, to keep calm.

You often see frightened cats purring in effect to themselves. You are likely to see this in shelters where abandoned cats inhabit fear and anxiety.

Momma Guiding Kittens

The vibrations that occur during purring lead kittens to their mother. Kittens are born blind and deaf, depending on momma cat to provide first milk.

Veterinarians additionally suggest that this purring tells ‘Mom’ that “I am okay” and that “I am here.” It also expresses a bonding mechanism between kitten and mother.

How Can You Tell Why Your Cat Is Purring?

First, look at the context of your cat’s behavior and the situation your cat is in.

If your cat is at a dreaded veterinary exam, most likely he feels scared. If your cat is purring at home but acting different seeming less engaged, they may be frightened and hurting. It would be wise to contact your veterinarian.

Contrarily, if your cat cuddles happily next to you getting their needed affection, they're probably content and only encouraging your affection with their purrs.

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