Cats Usually Pur When Happy, but It Can Mean Other Things

The reasons your cat purrs depends on their emotional state.

  • Most of the time, your cat purrs when they are happy and content.
  • But they also use the vibration of the purring to heal themselves.
  • Or to calm themselves when they are stressed.
  • Or when they may feel sick.
  • Cats have also been reported to purr when death approaches.

We are starting to understand that our cats are purring to show us that they are contented, and they trust us, but their purring can have another meaning as well!

It may be that your cat is stressed, not feeling so well, or injured and are administering some healing vibrational therapy. Cats also purr when they approach death, and this is thought to aid with any pain and make their passing easier.

The sound of the purr is relaxing, soothing, and is perfect for recovery after a bout of sickness.

Cats are happy when they purr, but the sound does so much more to benefit others – not just the cat.


Purring Because They Are Happy

This is the purr that we all understand and love.

You can tell your cat is feeling happy because their purring is accompanied by a relaxed body posture and the sound is very soft and relaxing to our ears.

Other facts.

  • When your cat responds positively to you petting them, they are showing us that they are feeling happy or sociable.
  • Kitty displays welcoming body language to your presence or petting.
  • During your interaction, their fur remains smooth or normal for them.
  • Their ears are forward-facing.
  • They sometimes lick us or bump their head on us in response to our interactions.
  • Your cat displays a relaxed, still tail that isn’t twitching backward and forwards.
  • As well as the above signals, they may communicate with a welcoming meow to show that they appreciate your attention and you are regarded highly as a safe and respected member of their clan!

If they are not happy nor want your presence – you will know!

They may still purr, as cats also purr when stressed, but it is a much harsher purr, more urgent and stressed.

It is the exact opposite of the above happy signs. They turn or move away, their fur bristles and their ears lay flatter as a sign to stay away. Ignore these signals and you will be severely reprimanded by your cat.


The Vibration of Purring has Healing Qualities

A cats purring frequency have been shown to stimulate bone regenerations. This is not as crazy as it sounds; here is the theory.

Cats purr at an average frequency of about 26 – 50 Hertz, although some have measured as high as 150!

That is the range that promotes tissue regeneration.

In simple terms, just as our bones respond to high impact exercise by becoming stronger, so too does your cat heal their injuries by purring. The vibration helps to stimulate the bones to allow for faster healing.

If a cat is lying in wait for prey, the purring allows the bones to remain pliant and flexible, producing quick reflexes to catch their prey.

The vibration frequency that a cat purrs in has been proven to promote bone and muscle healing. If your cat feels a bit off-color, they may purr themselves back to good health.

Vibration devices have been used in therapy and also in research. Vibrating plates strapped to the feet of astronauts have been suggested during long space flights to retain bone density.


Purring Relieves Stress.

As with any behavior, it depends on context and expectations.

Cats don’t just purr for one reason, that would be a naïve assumption. Instead, look for what prompted the purr.

  • Your immediate arrival home may prompt a happy purring welcome.
  • Or the purr may be a release of the anxiety of being alone for so long.
  • A cat may purr if strangers visit, but watch their body language; they may be stressed and trying to calm themselves. (if this is the case, don’t try to force interaction, let them escape to where they feel comfortable until they are reassured the stranger doesn’t mean harm).
  • An intense urgent purr included with leg winding and rubbing often means your cat is hungry and they want food … now!
  • Cats can also purr when they are injured or frightened. The purr seems urgent and has an almost forced or stressed tone. The sound and vibrations can help to calm the cat while it thinks of a solution to its emotions.

We have to learn to pay attention not only to their verbal language and purring, but we need to take their communication in context with their body language so we get it right.

Your cat may get stressed if you are not paying attention to them. If they are hungry and you offer them a cuddle, you may get more than you bargained for.

Cats have little tolerance for the inattentive human who doesn’t learn quickly.


Purring Releases their Feel-Good Endorphins!

If you are not yet amazed at your cat’s superpowers, this one must convince you!

When a cat is purring, it releases the feel-good endorphins, which can help to soothe themselves in times of need. It also produces the endorphins to their human companion which is a huge bonus.

  • The purr begins at birth. It is a form of communication from the mother to reassure her newborn kittens, and from kitten to mother with the purr saying the kittens are ok. It forms a close bond between the family unit.
  • As your cats mature, they use purring to release good endorphins to express their feelings.
  • You can get a dose of happiness when they cuddle on your knee and purr up a storm. Something is endearing about that rumbling sound that makes the world seem a better place.
  • If your cat is feeling sick, they will often purr to make themselves feel better. The purr has a different quality to it, more of an intent quality, and it may continue for some time. If it continues along with meowing, your cat could be seriously sick and may need veterinary assistance.


A Dying Cat will Often Purr

All good things must come to an end at some stage, and that includes the lives of our beloved pets.

A dying cat will often purr as death approaches. Many experts claim that this may be a coping mechanism.

  • Purring has been shown time and time again to strengthen a cat’s muscles, and in doing so, your cat’s purr may also release the endorphins that help them to cope with any pain.
  • Cats are such unique and special creatures, and they seem to have the ability to know when their time is up.
  • They will often seek out a special place such as under bushes, cool shaded areas, or even under cars if they have access to the outside.
  • They may choose a cupboard, cool nook, or special area to retreat to.

The positive thing to take from this is that cats have purring as a unique tool to help them cope with life and even death.

They will often lie beside another cat or dog who is ill or dying.  If they have formed a strong attachment with them, your cat may try to purr them well again.

Cats are not the cold, unemotional creatures that some people try to make them out to be. They are caring and compassionate.


The Way Your Cat Makes That Purring Sound.

Perhaps you were like me and wondered, ‘How the heck does my cat make that comforting, rumbling sound.’

Well – here is how that clever kitty does it.

  • When your cat wants to purr, a signal is sent to the voice box muscles and the diaphragm that expands their chest as they are breathing.
  • This signal stimulates the vocal cords to vibrate.
  • As they breathe in and out, the air moves across these twitching muscles, which results in the purr that we all love.
  • Your cat will purr not only during inhalation, but they will also purr on the exhalation as well, which gives an almost continuous sound.

And there you have it, the perfect purr!


Writer: Jean Brewer

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