If your cat is purring a lot, they might be:
- Deeply relaxed and happy, such as when on a blanket or meal times
- Stressed or anxious, like when there’s a change in the household
- In pain such as from an injury
- To soothe themsleves when dealing with a health problem
In this article, I’ll go over different scenarios to show why your cat is purring a lot using real-life, common examples.
Cat Purring a Lot while being Pet – Happy
If your cat purrs a lot while you pet them, they’re most likely happy! This also applies to cats in your lap or napping cozily on their cat tree.
Happiness or contentment is the leading reason that cats purr, though not the only reason. From drinking milk and kneading mama’s stomach as kittens into old age when they’re purring on their favorite blanket beside you, a cat who’s deeply relaxed will purr.
Cat Purring a Lot while Eating – Happy
Cats, and especially kittens, may also purr a lot when eating. This means they’re enjoying their meal, and likely stems from the way they purred while nursing. While many cats grow out of this, not all do!
Your cat might also purr around meal times or when you’re preparing their meals. I know mine do this, accompanied by lots of meowing! It’s like they’re harmonizing together, singing the “dinner time song!”
This is a cat’s version of begging, and due to the frequency, humans actually respond to it the same way we would to a crying infant.
Cat Purring a Lot when Touched – Pain
If your cat purrs a lot when you touch a certain area of their body, they might be in pain. You should bring them to the veterinarian for a check-up.
For instance, a cat who’s injured their leg might purr a lot when you touch that leg. A cat with tummy issues might purr when you touch their stomach.
Of course, they might also purr a lot when you touch a spot where they enjoy being pet, such as their cheeks or shoulders. This is why it’s also important to pay attention to your cat’s other body language for more hints about what they’re feeling.
Cat Purring a Lot After Injury – Pain
If your cat has recently taken a fall or been injured and they’re purring a lot, they’re most likely in pain. If the incident has just happened, it’s possible they’re stressed and soothing themselves as well.
Bring your cat to the veterinarian for their injury. Tell the veterinarian what happened and that your cat is purring more than normal. Also let them know if you’ve noticed any other symptoms such as limping, lack of appetite, meowing more than normal, or any other changes to your cat’s behavior.
Cat Purring a Lot After a Change – Stress
If your cat is purring a lot after a big life change, such as moving to a new house, you bringing a baby home, or adopting another pet, they’re likely stressed or anxious. Give them time to settle into their new life.
Some ways to calm their anxiety are to still provide them with plenty of attention and establish a routine. Play with and feed them at the same time every day so that they know what to expect, as this will lessen their anxiety.
Make sure they’re getting enough exercise and attention from you. For instance, a cat who’s already stressed over a new kitten might feel even worse if you’re spending all of your time with the kitten and little with your cat.
I know when I brought in a stray who had kittens, one of my older cats was stressed about all the attention my family gave to the little ones. It didn’t help that they took over a whole room of the house and that mama cat was very protective. It was a huge change for him!
We had to give him extra attention so that he knew he was still loved too.
While you can’t keep things exactly the same forever, taking changes slowly can help to manage your cat’s stress levels. This might involve keeping your routine as normal as possible or introducing new pets to your cat slowly rather than all at once.
If your cat shows other symptoms of anxiety, seems very distressed, or the purring lasts a long time, contact your veterinarian to see how to help them manage their stress levels.
Cat Purring a Lot at Veterinarian – Stress or Pain
A cat purring a lot at the veterinarian is most likely nervous. They are purring in order to soothe themselves. If they’re sick or injured, they might purr to calm their nerves and alleviate pain.
When I brought my cat Pepper to the veterinarian for an injury, I couldn’t believe how brave she was being—far more than any of my other cats. She would’ve explored the whole office if we let her!
However, there were also some signs that she wasn’t as fearless as she let on. She was shedding a ton, as cats do when frightened, and also purring more than I’d ever heard her purr.
This wasn’t because she enjoyed the vet’s office more than home! It was because she was in an unfamiliar place and, despite her bravery, it scared her.
There is research that shows purring not only helps cats soothe themselves, but might also promote healing.
Of course, this doesn’t mean a cat can fully heal itself overnight by purring, or that we shouldn’t bring injured cats to the veterinarian for medical attention.
It does mean that a purring cat might be soothing some of their pain, though, which is pretty cool!
Cat Purring a Lot for no Reason
It’s important to remember that animals almost always have a reason behind their actions, even if it’s not apparent to us. If your cat is purring for seemingly no reason, there are a number of possibilities.
The first thing you should do is bring them to your veterinarian and explain the purring. They’ll want to know what your cat is doing while they purr, how often they purr, and more.
Take notes on your cat’s behavior if you need to remember it, and remember to jot down any other ways your cat is acting strange as well.
Your veterinarian can tell you whether your cat has an injury or a health problem causing them to purr at random, or if they think it’s normal behavior.
Cats purring all of the time might be in pain, especially if the purring is new and unusual for them.
They might also just be relaxed, happy little cats that are having a good time! But it’s better to check with your veterinarian to make sure nothing’s wrong, than to miss a symptom of illness.
Bringing your cat to the vet when they act odd is a good way to catch illness early. Ignoring seemingly harmless symptoms may mean finding out too late that your cat is very sick or in a lot of pain. Cats are very good at hiding illness.
Scientists Don’t Know Everything About Purring
It’s important to note that science doesn’t know everything about cats, and many facets of purring are still a mystery waiting to be uncovered.
Cats aren’t studied as much as dogs, likely due to the way we see these animals societally as well as cats often being more difficult to study.
While most dogs know basic commands and have some social skills, we don’t often teach these things to our cats. (Which isn’t to say they can’t learn! I’ve had lots of fun teaching my cats basic commands using treats.)
Likely, more information will come out in the future about cats’ purrs now that they’re being studied more seriously.
Since we can’t read our cats’ minds and they cannot speak human languages, we just have to rely on the best science there is at the moment and make educated guesses about why our cats purr when they do.
I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry. My full bio