Why Do Cats Purr?

by Curious Cat People October 30, 2022 4 min read

Why Do Cats Purr?

Why Do Cats Purr?

Most of us believe that when a cat purrs, it means she is content and happy. Researchers have shown that cats don’t just purr when they are happy. They purr for various reasons. Cats may purr when they want something, like food, from you. They may purr when they are stressed or to ease pain and heal muscles. Purring is a form of communication. Cats purr to communicate emotions and needs. Although we may never know exactly what kitty is saying when she purrs, observing the situation and her body language can help us make an informed guess.

Why Do Cats Purr?

Your cat is happy

You may notice kitty purring when you gently stroke her. She looks relaxed, laying on her back, eyes half-closed, tail mostly still. It's safe to assume that kitty is happy and content, and her purrs may be a way of saying she likes being touched and wants more. Your cat might also purr while eating or drinking to express feelings of happiness and fulfillment

For healing and pain relief

Studies have shown that the low-frequency vibration produced by purring can actually stimulate healing, particularly of bones and tendons. Science has found that whole-body vibrations of 35 to 50 Hz could help stimulate bone healing. Cats’ purr frequencies range from 25 to 150 Hz, and some suggest the vibrations could help cats keep their skeletons strong.

Even then, these studies are still in their infancy. If you think your cat has suffered a fracture, see your vet immediately. Never assume a fracture will heal on its own. If supplementing with calcium-phosphorus is necessary for stronger bones, consider adding this NaturVet Calcium-Phosphorus Powder for Cats & Dogs to your cat’s diet. Work with your vet to find the best remedy for your cat.  

Why Do Cats Purr?

Mother cat-kitten language

Kittens start to purr when they are only a few days old as a way to communicate and bond with their mothers. The mother and her kittens communicate via purring from the day of birth. Kittens purr to help their mothers locate them for feeding time, and the vibrations from a mother cat's purr can help direct the kittens to nurse. This may persist with some adult cats who purr as they feed – or who purr beforehand as they try and convince their human it’s dinner time.  

Why Do Cats Purr?

Your cat is hungry or wants something from you

Some cats purr when it's mealtime. Purring can also be a way for a cat to express certain needs to its human caregivers, like feeling hungry and wanting food. Purring to receive something tends to be higher pitched. It’ll sound almost like an infant’s cry. According to researchers, humans are more likely to react to this higher-pitched, urgent-sounding purr.

Cats can learn to manipulate their humans for things that they want. If your cat is purring in-between meals, asking for treats, be mindful of the amount of treats given. Try not to overtreat and always give only high-quality treats with no unnatural fillers like this Feline Natural Healthy Bites Lamb Freeze-Dried Cat Treats. It is also a good idea to give functional treats; treats with a health purpose like this Kit Cat Purr Puree Plus+ Chicken & Cranberry (Urinary Care) Cat Treat.

A bored cat may purr too but this is usually accompanied by excessive meowing. Other signs of boredom may include over-grooming and over-eating. Play is the best way to prevent boredom. Provide a combination of interactive toys, plenty of high places to climb, scratching posts, and perches to combat boredom. Give her a crinkle toy like this FuzzYard Dumplings Cat Plush Toy to encourage play and set up a perch in front of secure windows to let your cat view the outside world. All these can go a long way in helping to entertain your cat and keep her mentally and physically stimulated in the right way.  

Why Do Cats Purr?

To greet other cats

Your cat might also purr upon seeing another familiar cat as a way to greet the other cat.

Exactly what they are communicating isn't clear yet to scientists. but it is believed to be a way to let the other cat know they are friendly and approachable.

Your cat is stressed

While purring is most commonly associated with an expression of cat happiness, your cat may also purr while stressed or anxious. Purring can be a way to self-soothe and calm down.

Here’s how you can tell if your cat is purring because of anxiety. An anxious purr may have a slightly higher pitch than a contentment purr. The purr is often paired with panting. In some cases, the purring may appear to be intentional while in cases like expressing contentment, purring is more of an automatic reaction.

It is important you spot the signs of stress in cats and try to reduce that stress as much as possible. Signs of a stressed cat apart from the purring.

  • becoming more withdrawn
  • hiding more than usual
  • litter box issues
  • scratching the furniture
  • excessive meowing
  • hissing or growling
  • exaggerated swallowing or licking their nose
  • vomiting or diarrhoea
Adding some calming supplement like this Kin+Kind Healthy Calm Dogs & Cats Supplement to your cat’s daily diet may help. Sometimes changing their environment or routine is necessary to help your kitty calm down.  

Why Do Cats Purr?

Latest researchers have identified the possibility that the cat’s purr may not just be of benefit to the cats themselves. The purr has a big benefit for humans too. We’ve always responded to purring’s psychological effects. It calms us and pleases us. We respond to a cat’s purr as a calming stimulus, and science believes that we may have even genetically selected cats with more propensity to purr.  









Katherine Khoo
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.

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