You might be surprised to learn that happiness is not the only thing that makes cats purr. It’s a fact that this behavior is triggered when they feel cheerful, but it goes way beyond that! In the same way that, when they’re happy, humans smile and dogs wag their tails, cats express some feelings by means of purring. However, purring cats are not always happy cats, and there is a lot of mystery surrounding this matter… So why do cats purr?
Assuming that cats only purr for one reason is the same as saying that human laughter is always motivated by the same cause. Ever thought about that? Human beings tend to smile both when happy or nervous, and it’s the same with purring in cats. They can do it when experiencing opposite emotions, like pleasure and pain.
To make things crystal clear and learn how to communicate with our beloved best friends, we first have to understand what triggers a good purr!
When feeling happy
This one is obvious and cannot be missed. Tons of cats purr when they are happy and pleased, especially when they‘re curled up on their human’s warm and cozy lap.
To calm themselves down
While it’s true that cats purr when extremely relaxed, that’s not the only reason why they do it. Scientific research tells us that cats also behave like this while going through highly stressful and painful events. A visit to the vet, or even giving birth, might be valid reasons for some felines to purr.
Scientists believe that this is a way for cats to calm themselves down. The low-frequency vibrations that purring creates help them ease their breathing and soothe the extra tension.
To aid healing
The body is so mysterious… Not only can purring help smooth things down, it seems that it also can enhance the body’s healing processes. Academicians now admit that the aforementioned vibrations can actually help overcome injuries, repair and build muscles… And they might even work as painkillers! This is a fairly plausible explanation for why injured or sick cats purr.
For attention-seeking purposes
We all know that cats are clever little creatures. And guess what? They also use purring to achieve something they desire. Studies have shown that there is a particular type of purring for this, known as the “solicitation purr”. It appears that cats use it exclusively as a way to obtain affection or food from their owners.
The solicitation purr is a mix between a meow and a purr, and is close in frequency to the sound of a crying baby… A noise that humans are naturally programmed to respond to.
Why do cats purr? – conclusion
In short, purring releases feel-good hormones, known as endorphins. It is then easy to understand why we currently believe that cats use the vibrations to soothe themselves. They can either do it while enjoying some nice-warm cuddles, when in need to calm their nerves, or literally heal their pain.
Remember – being aware of the different meanings a purr can have, should not rush you into panic mode the next time your cat does it. There is a reason why people associate purring with happiness and joy – after all, those remain its fundamental causes! The fun thing is that kneading works somehow in a similar way… Learn more on “Why do cats knead?”
The trick is simple: the best way to figure out your cat’s message is by assessing the context where the behavior happens. If you’re ever in doubt about your tiny tiger’s true motifs for purring, feel free to seek the Maven vet team’s expertise – we will be more than glad to help!
Maven is all about proactive pet care. Be your best friend’s best friend by giving them 24/7, high-quality, industry-leading vet care to improve their mental health, physical health and more. No more frantic googling or unneeded stressful visits to the vet – Maven helps you save hundreds while also ensuring your pet lives the best life possible. Get your kit now!