Cats purr for some surprising reasons. It’s not always when they’re happy or content! Cats purr more than they meow, growl, chirp, or make any other sound that we love them for. Cats purr for a number of reasons, and this article will discuss the latest thinking about causes of purring.
So why do cats purr? The most obvious reason cats purr because theyre happy and content. When your kitty is feeling extraordinarily connected to you, or feeling comfy, about to sleep, or just generally getting that Im safe and happy feeling, their purr motor will kick in. Your cat will also purr when shes simply calm, as when shes lying in a favorite spot you can put a hand on her back and feel a very subtle, gentle purring. Its as if its not meant for you or anyone else just a kitty-subconscious expression of peace.
The ‘Are You My Mommy?’ Purr
Anyone with cats knows intuitively that theyre still deeply and profoundly connected to the experience of being babied by their mother. This is why they make the biscuits, one lovely term for their habit of kneading a blanket, rug, or your belly with half-extended claws: as kittens, thats how they stimulated their mothers milk glands to get lunch started. Purring is no different, and has been shown to be related to communication between kitten and mother. What are they saying? No one knows for sure, of course, but we can be pretty sure that the mommy purr is a sign that they view you as a mommy figure. But you probably already knew that!
Mother cats, by the way, purr back to their kittens, as something like a bedtime or nursing song.
The ‘I’m Hurt’ Purr
Strange as it sounds, cats may also purr when theyre injured or in pain. The easy assumption is that theyre reassuring themselves that everythings going to be okay. But in the animal world, thats not really a solid enough reason for behavior like that in a wounded animal so researchers have suggested that the sound of the purr actually has a regenerative or healing effect on the animal.
What you may not have realized yet is that cats may also purr when theyre nervous or unsettled. Some research suggests that she purrs at times like these to reassure herself to hear the voice of another kitty, even if its coming from her. Our kitties often purr when a stranger picks them up or sits with them even though theyre hardly content or feeling safe. It may be a mode of communication, since one truth about cats is that they assume every being around them, including you, is another cat.
The ‘I’m Hungry!’ Purr
Some evidence exists to suggest that cats may purr to express hunger. At least one pet site reports that British researchers compared the purr-sounds of cats under different situations, and detected a variety of different purrs that could correspond to different states of mind or needs. I can believe this, because our four kitties make all kinds of subtly different sounds like a language of their own. It makes sense that purrs should have their own kind of language as well.
Purring Isn’t as Simple as it Sounds
No matter the reason, one of the loveliest and most calming sounds a human can experience is the contented purr of their kitty asleep on their lap. Its a nice message: Im happy, youre happy, and everything is right with the world.