If you’ve ever heard vibrating sounds coming from your cat when they were sitting, lying down, or being petted by you, then you’ve definitely heard your cat purr.
As a happy cat owner of a beautiful feline named Cleo, I can attest to the joys and challenges of having a purring companion.
Seeing her curled up next to me on the couch, on the bed, or hearing her sweet purr as I gently pet her is one of the best and most peaceful feelings in the world.
But have you ever wondered what it means when your cat is purring? Here are five reasons why they do it:
1. Contentment and Relaxation
You may have noticed that your cat tends to purr when they’re feeling relaxed and happy. That’s because the act of purring has a calming effect on them.
When a cat is purring, it releases endorphins in their body, which helps reduce stress and promotes a sense of contentment and peace.
The next time you see your cat snuggled up and purring away, know that they are in a state of pure bliss, thanks to you.
2. Healing and Self-soothing during times of stress or injury
Studies have shown that the frequency of a cat’s purr, which ranges from 25 to 150 Hz, can promote the healing of bones, tendons, and muscles.
The vibrations created when cats purr can also help soothe and calm them during stressful situations, such as when they’re feeling afraid or in pain.
According to a study published by The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, an astounding 90% of the 132 cats involved survived after falling an average of 5.5 stories.
Remarkably, one of the survivors had endured a staggering 45-story fall.
This research sheds light on the resilience and remarkable survival instincts of our feline friends, and purring seems to have played a part in this.
3. Communication with Humans and Other Cats
Cats are excellent communicators, and they use a variety of vocalizations, body language, and behavior to interact with humans and other cats.
Purring is one of the many ways that cats communicate with their owners, and it signifies a positive relationship between them.
When cats purr, they’re telling you that they trust you and feel safe in your presence.
4. Communication for Needs
Cats use purring as a way to communicate their desires and requirements.
For instance, when a cat is hungry, they might purr to indicate their need for food.
Similarly, if they seek your attention, they may approach you, lay or sit next to you, and purr to catch your eye.
The next time your cat purrs, take a moment to decipher their message.
They could be trying to communicate their needs, whether it’s for food or your undivided attention.
From the moment they are a few days old, cats start purring, allowing their mothers to locate them during feeding time.
This behavior may continue into adulthood, with some cats purring while they eat or even before as they try to persuade us that it’s time for dinner.
Others may purr loudly when cautiously exploring new environments (Cleo does this at times in the closet and clothes drawer – she opens herself).
Cats are social creatures, and they enjoy spending time with their owners. One way they bond is through purring.
It could also help form a strong bond between cats and their owners.
What is purring?
Purring is a soft and melodious sound that comes from cats when they breathe in and out.
Resembling a rolled “r,” it possesses a fundamental frequency of approximately 25 Hz and continues throughout your cat’s inhalation and exhalation, producing rhythmic variations based on your cat’s breathing pattern.
The act of purring is a result of the muscles in the larynx expanding and contracting, thereby affecting the area surrounding the vocal cords, also known as the glottis.
This muscular action induces the vibration of the air over the laryngeal muscles, giving rise to the distinctive vibrato that we associate with a cat’s purr.
Types of purr in cats?
The two types of purr that have been identified in adult pet domestic cats are:
- The ‘unsolicitation’ purr: This type of purr is produced when your cat is calm and content, either when they are alone or when in relaxed social contact.
- The ‘solicitation’ purr: This particular purr is produced when your cat wants something from you, be it food or attention, and is mainly directed towards human caregivers. It carries a faint, high-pitched ‘cry’ and can sound more demanding than the calm unsolicited purr.
What does purring sound like?
A cat’s purr is a unique and recognizable sound that is often described as a rhythmic, low-volume hum or buzz. It’s a continuous sound that rises and falls in volume with each breath the cat takes.
The purring sound is usually soft and soothing, somewhat similar to the sound of an idling diesel engine or even the gentle hum of a refrigerator. Some people also liken it to the sound of a ticking clock or a softly babbling brook.
The exact sound can vary from cat to cat. Some cats have a deep, rumbling purr, while others have a higher-pitched, softer purr.
The intensity and volume of a cat’s purr can also change based on their mood, health, and individual personality.
Does purring mean a cat is always happy?
While the majority of purring is often associated with contentment and happiness in cats, it’s not the only reason they might purr, so purring doesn’t always mean your cat is happy.
Cats also purr to communicate other needs or feelings. For instance, a cat might purr when it’s anxious or unwell, as a way to comfort themselves.
Why does my cat purr when I pet him?
When you pet your cat, and it starts purring, it’s usually a sign of contentment and pleasure.
Cats often purr when they’re in a relaxed environment, comfortable, and enjoying social contact with humans or other cats.
Purring is a way for cats to communicate their contentment and well-being to their owners. The rhythmic vibrations of purring can also have a calming effect on cats, further enhancing their relaxation during petting sessions.
Why do cats lay on you and purr?
When a cat lays on you and purrs, it’s usually a sign of contentment, affection, and trust.
Cats enjoy the warmth and comfort of being close to their owners, so they may jump onto your lap or curl up against you for a nap.
The rhythmic vibrations of purring can also help cats feel secure, strengthening the bond between owner and pet.
My cat Cleo does this to me whenever she sleeps under the cover, next to me or on my back
Is a cat purring on you good for you?
Yes, a cat purring on you can indeed be good for you. Scientific evidence suggests that the vibrations from a cat’s purr can have several beneficial effects on human health:
- Stress Relief: The act of petting a cat and hearing it purr can have a calming effect, helping to lower feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Healing Powers: Cat purrs fall within a frequency range (25-140 Hz) that is known to be medically therapeutic. It has been found to aid in wound healing, joint and tendon repair, and even the healing of broken bones.
- Lowered Blood Pressure: Interacting with a purring cat can help reduce blood pressure. Some studies also suggest that cat owners are less likely to suffer from heart attacks.
What does it mean when a cat purrs like a motor?
When a cat purrs like a motor, it’s usually a sign of contentment and happiness. Cats often purr when they’re relaxed, comfortable, and enjoying social contact.
The purring sound is created by the vibrations of their larynx (voice box) and diaphragm.
The “motor-like” purr you’re referring to is simply a louder or more intense version of the typical purr.
This could be due to the cat being particularly happy or comfortable, but it can also vary based on individual differences among cats
Most often, if your cat purrs like a motor while showing signs of relaxation and contentment, they’re likely expressing happiness and comfort.
However, if the loud purring is accompanied by signs of distress or illness, contact your vet as soon as you can and let them know what your concerns are.
Is the sound of a cat purring vibrations? And what frequency do cats purr at?
Yes, the sound of a cat purring is indeed caused by vibrations. The purring sound is created by rapid contractions of the cat’s larynx (voice box) and diaphragm, which cause vibrations.
Cats typically purr at a consistent frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz. This frequency is within the range that is audible to humans, and we can often feel these vibrations when our cat is close or lying on us.
Some scientists and studies believe that the low-frequency vibrations produced by purring can have healing properties, helping cats recover from injuries or calm themselves in stressful situations.
What are the benefits and effects of cats purring on humans?
Cats purring has been shown to have several benefits on human health. These benefits are primarily related to stress reduction and healing. Here’s a summary of the key benefits:
- Releases Endorphins: Purring releases endorphins in cats, and it can do the same thing in humans, too, especially if your cat starts purring while you’re petting them because it feels good to know your cat is happy and content to be with you.
- Relieves Stress and Lowers Blood Pressure: The calming effect of having and hearing a purring cat nearby can relieve stress and lower blood pressure in cat owners, thus reducing the risk of various health issues. It’s a peaceful feeling.
- Psychological Effects: Apart from physiological benefits, purring also has psychological effects. It provides a sense of calm, pleasure, and peace, similar to watching waves on a beach.
- Improves Mental Health: A cat’s purr can not only lower stress but also aid cat owners in labored breathing and lower blood pressure. For many humans having a cat that purrs a lot can be a significant factor in improving mental health.
- Decreases Symptoms of Dyspnoea and Lower Risk of Heart Attack: Purring has been linked to lowering stress, decreasing symptoms of Dyspnoea (difficulty or pain breathing), and lessening the chances of having a heart attack.
- Other Effects Cats’ Pur Have on Humans: Lowered blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduced feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and relieving symptoms of PTSD.
It’s worth noting that while the science behind these benefits is still being explored, many cat owners and experts attest to the beneficial effects of a cat’s purr on us.
Even though purring is often used to help your cat feel good and can serve as a coping mechanism for them during stressful or painful situations, it can be difficult to know what exactly they are trying to say.
That’s why it’s important to pay attention to other cues and behaviors that your cat is displaying so you can better understand their needs.
We cannot always sit back, wait and see, and hope everything is ok or will be okay with our cat.
If you’re ever concerned that the reasons for your cat’s purr may be something more serious, reach out to your vet to ask for advice, help, and reassurance, just to make sure all is well.