All About Cat Purring

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

24 June 2018

Every cat lover knows the pure joy that comes from hearing a fur baby purr. Cat purring can warm even the coldest of hearts. Your cat purrs by vibrating their larynx and diaphragm muscles as they breathe. But why do cats purr? Is a cat happy when it purrs? And what do cat purrs mean? Let’s take a peek at the puzzling and mysterious world of cat purrs...  

Why do cats purr?

Cat purring is a bit of a moggy mystery. No-one knows for certain why our fluffy friends purr, but there are a few educated theories. It is thought that cat purring is a form of complex kitty communication, conveying both positive and negative states of mind. However, it is also thought to provide therapeutic benefits for both the purring cat and other cats and humans in proximity to the purrs.  

So, is a cat happy when it purrs?

Like most cat behaviour mysteries, there isn’t one definitive answer to this purr-ent puzzling question. Most cats tend to purr when they’re content, letting their hoomans and fur-siblings know they’re happy to be groomed or stroked. However, cats have also been observed to purr when injured, ill or scared. Which makes us wonder, are purrs self-soothing?  

Purr therapy for cats

Purr-haps these cats are performing ‘purr therapy’ for themselves. Purr therapy has been observed by veterinarians in times of cat crisis. A cat will lay with their injured or ill friend and purr. Why would they do this? Well, in a weird and wonderful twist, the frequency range of cat purring has been shown to stimulate bone and tissue regeneration. It may be that these therapeutic purrs assist in kitty recovery.

Purr therapy for hoomans

Purr vibrations are not only beneficial to cats, they’re also thought to assist in hooman health. Cat purring occurs in the vibration range of 20-140 Hz, which is known to decrease stress, lower blood pressure and help heal bone, muscle, tendon and ligament injuries. Devoted purr-ents know first-hand how soul soothing it is to have a cat purring beside you. Need to get centred and unwind? Save your money. Cancel that spa day and pop a purring kitty on your lap.  

What do cat purrs mean?

The key to understanding cat purring is knowing your cat! Just as humans can use one communication method to convey different emotions or states of mind, like crying from sadness or joy, so too can cats use purring to tell different stories. They may be saying ‘This brushy brushy is very pleasing’ or they may be saying ‘I feel icky so I’m soothing myself’. It really depends on the cat context. If your kitty is purring during a stressful time, don’t buy into the Dastardly Dog People propaganda. Cats aren't pleased by your pain, they’re providing essential purr therapy for themselves and their hooman.

When it comes to cat behaviour, there’s a point where science can only explain so much of their magic and majestic moggy ways. Cats give us so much. They provide love, companionship and a chance to worship the cutest creatures to ever walk the earth. It’s time to give back. Keep your living gods and goddesses purrin’ and playful with a secure and spacious cat run or enclosure from our range.   


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