A purring cat is considered a contented cat. If your cat starts to vocalize while being petted, many believe that they’re expressing their gratitude. Like many feline behaviors, purring is often misunderstood by pet owners.
We will look closely at purring behavior in cats. It’s crucial that pet owners understand purring and understand the true message that a feline is attempting to convey to you.
- 1 Is a Cat Purring a Sign of Happiness?
- 2 Why Do Cats Purr?
- 3 Is Stroking a Purring Cat Good for Human Health?
- 4 Why Do Cats Purr and Knead?
- 5 When Do Cats Start to Purr?
- 6 Why Has My Cat Stopped Purring?
Is a Cat Purring a Sign of Happiness?
A feline purring to express their happiness is a favorite trope. It’s common for cats to curl up in their owner’s lap and purr contentedly. Many cats also mingle their purr with a meow when they want attention or food.
However, it’s risky to assume that a purring cat is a healthy and content pet. A cat’s purr is not always a conscious verbalization. This means that it can sometimes be an involuntary action, and an attempt to self-soothe.
Does your cat loudly purr in the waiting room of the vet? If so, they are not expressing their excitement at the prospect of being prodded and poked. This means that purring should also be reviewed in the home.
If your cat purrs and dozes around you, they’re likely expressing their serenity. A purring cat that paces agitatedly, or continually verbalizes in other ways, is usually in discomfort.
Does My Cat Purr Because They Like Being Stroked?
In most cases, a cat purring while being stroked will be expressing their pleasure. A human will smile when they experience a positive physical sensation. A dog will wag its tail, and lick the hand that provides such a stimulus. A cat will purr.
However, a cat may purr when uncomfortable. This may be the case while being stroked. Feline skin and fur are very sensitive, so your cat may find that stroking and petting become sore after a while.
Your cat may also be uncomfortable through a pre-existing medical problem or injury. Arthritis and joint problems are common ailment older cats. Once your pet reaches senior status, they’ll likely experience pain in their joints.
Your cat will purr in an attempt to soothe and repair that discomfort. Also, they may purr with increasing volume as the physical interaction spikes their pain. Watch out for a reaction.
If you are hurting your cat, no matter how unwittingly, they’ll let you know. Your cat may also interject their purring with hissing, or rapid escapes. Your cat is likely experiencing a health concern that they’re trying to hide from you.
Why Do Cats Purr?
Purring is the most common sound that any housecat makes, yet it’s among the least understood.
When we hear our pets hiss, we back away as we realize they are agitated and frightened. When a cat meows, we immediately reach for the tin opener and fill their bowl. Purring, however, remains something of a mystery.
There are four primary reasons for a cat to purr:
- Happiness and contentment.
- Expressing a wish for something.
- Fear, anxiety or pain.
- Bonding between mother and kitten.
Purring doesn’t just offer a cat psychological comfort, either. A study from the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America claims that purring can be healing. When a cat purrs, it creates vibrations throughout their body.
These bones promote muscle growth, and the repairing of any fractures. This has led to a saying among veterinarians. “Put a cat and a bunch of broken bones in the same room, the bones will heal.”
Is Stroking a Purring Cat Good for Human Health?
It’s not just cats themselves that feel these vibrations. By having your cat close to you, you’ll benefit too. If your cat jumps into your lap, start stroking. In purring follows, you will feel amazing.
Cat purrs provide five significant health boosts to humans, including:
- Reduced stress levels. Cars purrs fall within a sound range that calms and relaxes the mind.
- Lower blood pressure. If you’re feeling calm and relaxed, your heart rate will slow. This lowers blood pressure.
- Enhanced heart health. Psychology Today claims that purring cats are more effective than cholesterol medication in preventing heart disease.
- Improved breathing. When your cat relaxes and purrs, your breathing will fall into the same routine. This will be a healthy, even breathing routine.
- Healing of bones. Just like cat purrs at particular vibrations heal feline fractures, they assist human bones too.
- Relaxation of muscles. Just as a cat’s purr promotes bone growth, it encourages muscle repair. This means that a purring cat can ease sore and aching joints.
A cat cannot replace a doctor. Stroking your cat can boost recovery from many ailments.
Why Do Cats Purr and Knead?
Kneading behavior is a habit carried over from a cat’s earliest years. When cats are mere kittens, they knead at their mother’s nipples to release milk.
Often, they will also purr while they do so. This is a kitten’s way of communicating to their mother that they are hungry. This can also become a purr of satisfaction as they feel their tummies start to fill.
Most cats have been weaned off their mother’s milk by around eight weeks of age. Many cats hold fond memories of this experience for loge, however. The closest an adult cat comes from kneading soft furnishings.
If your cat kneads a blanket, purring as they do so, they are reliving happy memories. Your cat may not be aware of this, as their long-term memory is comparatively poor. They will be following the same instincts that kept them alive in their earliest days, however.
The only time that kneading becomes a concern is when the behavior becomes obsessive. Cats that were separated from their mothers before being weaned can become reliant on kneading.
They will also usually suckle material in such instances. Purring that accompanies this behavior is a result of anxiety, soothed by suckling the material.
If this applies to your cat, speak to a feline behaviorist. Wool sucking is an initially harmless habit, but it can lead to cats swallowing foreign objects.
Why Do Cats Purr and Then Bite You?
There are three primary explanations for this behavior.
- A kitten will bite as a form of play. Some older cats were not trained out of this behavior. The accompanying purr will result from the pleasuring of play.
- A cat that is injured or sick may purr. If you then try to handle this cat, they’ll likely bite.
- Your cat may be purring with pleasure while being stroked. This pleasure can turn to pain in an instant if they become over stimulated. Biting will then follow.
Most cats grow out of biting behavior by the time they reach 12 months of age. If your cat continues to nip after this, you may need the help of a behaviorist.
Discourage the behavior by making a high-pitched yelp when your cat bites. This replicates the sound their littermates would make, helping your cat understand they went too far.
If your cat seems to purr when left alone, then bite, they are likely in pain. Cats likely mask and hide their physical weakness, so it may not be obvious.
The most likely scenario is that you stroked your cat too long. Cats have extremely sensitive skin that can get over-stimulated. They could be enjoying a stroke one moment, but it suddenly becomes very painful. In such an instance, your cat will bite you to say, “no more.”
Your cat will likely also leave your lap at this point. Stay put, and wait for one moment though. It’s more than likely that your pet will return to make friends again very quickly. If they don’t, their discomfort may be related to a more long-term concern.
How Can You Tell if a Cat Loves You?
Purring is a clear sign of feline contentment. However, it can also be misconstrued.
If you are worried about whether your cat loves you, relax. The truth is, they wouldn’t stick around if they didn’t. Cats will always trust their instincts. If they were unhappy, they would take their chances of running away.
If this is insufficient assurance, look out for these classic signs of feline affection from Care2.
- A cat rubbing their face against you is not an aggressive head-butt. Instead, they are rubbing pheromones over you.
- A cat that gently nibbles – not bites – your hands is showing affection.
- Being licked by a cat is arguably the ultimate sign of affection and acceptance. These moments are rare, so cherish them.
- You may wish your cat didn’t bring dead birds or mice home. When they do, however, they are presenting a gift as a token of their esteem.
- If your cat looks you in the eye and very slowly blinks, you have received a ‘cat kiss.’
- If your cat sleeps in your bed, or just close to you, they love and trust you. This goes double for a pet that dozes with their belly exposed.
And, of course, the timeless act of climbing into your lap and purring. If your pet does this choice, it is almost invariably a demonstration of fondness.
When Do Cats Start to Purr?
Cats often purr almost from birth as a bonding exercise with their mother. This means that the vocalizations start almost immediately. Most cats start purring at around two days old.
This will be an imitated behavior, as a kitten’s mother will purr to announce their presence. Cats are essentially blind and deaf for the first week or two of their lives. Their eyes and ear canals remain firmly closed until mature enough for use.
Kittens still need to find their mother, however, for warmth and feeding. A purring cat gives off unmistakable vibrations. A kitten will follow these vibrations, and find nourishment.
These kittens will then start to imitate this purring behavior. This is partly because cats are natural mimics. It will also be a way of altering their mother to their needs, however.
If a cat hears her kittens purring, she will ensure that milk is available. This will until a cat reaches around three months. By then, they will have been weaned – and learned a more extensive vocabulary if meows.
Of course, young cats may also purr due to pain and discomfort. Kittens undergo a number of physiological changes in their early months of life.
Their bones grow, and their milk teeth are exchanged for adult alternatives. While your kitten will sleep through much of this, they’ll still feel a lot of it. Purring can be a way of coping with these changes.
Why Has My Cat Stopped Purring?
A cat that undergoes a change in behavior is always worrying. If your previously purring pet has taken a vow of silence, it’s no different. There could be a number of reasons why a cat stops purring.
Assess whether your cat is hunting. This does not necessary have to mean stalking wild prey. They could be playing with toys. Multiple cats may be playing hide and seek with each other, or you.
Whatever the spark for hunting instincts, many felines learn to control their purring and stay silent. This is rule number one of hunting – remain as inconspicuous as possible
There is also the possibility that your cat is stressed or afraid, though. The thinking will be the same as when hunting. Your cat will not want to give away their location. Anxious and fearful cats can be very silent.
If your cat has experienced any kind of trauma, see a vet. They may be struggling with the impact of the mishap. Check your cat’s gums, too. If they look pale, your pet is likely in shock. This will need to be addressed by a vet ASAP.
Consider whether your cat is unwell. Laryngitis is quite common in senior cats older than 11, as Pet Place explains. If your cat has stopped verbalizing, observe their others behaviors.
If they are also generally lethargic, running a fever and struggling to breathe, laryngitis is likely. Contact your vet to run some tests and confirm if this is the case.
Treatment for feline laryngitis depends entirely on the cause. If it’s a viral infection, your cat will recover with around a week of rest.
Your vet may also prescribe a painkiller to make them more comfortable. If there is a serious cause, such as a tumor, this must be addressed. This is why it is so important to have a vet run tests on your cat.
A cat purring whilst being stroked can be a hugely rewarding experience for any pet owner. It generally denotes contentment and happiness, showing that your bond is strong.
Be vigilant about understanding the purr, however, and ensure that it is borne of pleasure. Watch your cat carefully, and keep an eye out for any signs of pain or discomfort.
If you have reason to believe that your cat is purring to self-soothe, visit a vet. If you’re confident that they are relaxed and joyous, however, just pat yourself on the back. You are clearly doing a great job of keeping your cat happy.