Cat Health and Wellness

Why Do Cats Purr?

close up photo of cute sleeping cat
Photo by Pixabay on

One of the biggest joys of being a cat owner is listening to the sounds of your cat’s purrs. These purrs are normally associated with happy cats and owners, and cat purrs have even been shown to reduce blood pressure in their human family members.

So what exactly is purring? Well, science isn’t too sure. Purring is thought to be linked to the vibration of the vocal cords as a cat breaths in and out. 

So Why Do Cat’s Purr?

When a mother cat is nursing, as kittens are born blind and deaf, they use the vibrations of their mother’s purrs to help them find their mother to nurse. As these babies grow older, that is when purring starts to take on other functions.

Cats will start to purr to:

*communicate with their humans (and sometimes other cats)

*show contentment

*when they are seeking attention. 

Purring is not something that is always done when a cat is happy however. Cats will also purr if they are stressed, hurt or sick. It is important to pay attention to how your individual cat communicates. 

cute kitten hiding behind a pillow
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

What if Your Cat Doesn’t Purr?

No need to fret! Just like humans, cats chose different methods of communicating with us. If your cat doesn’t purr, pay attention to the other ways your cat communicates with you. 

Other ways your cat may be trying to talk to you look like:

*Facial expressions

*Body language

*Meowing, or having a variety of meows

*Tail wagging, normally slowly and sometimes just the tips of the tail may move (not like a dog’s happy wag)

Your cat may also be purring, you just may not be able to hear it! Try gently placing your hand on your cat as you relax together. If you feel your cat’s chest vibrating, they are purring!

There isn’t much out there for getting your cat to purr if they don’t. They simply chose not to use that method of communication. It has also been noticed that cats who have feral mothers or who lived the first part of their lives outdoors may not purr, as their mothers discouraged it to avoid attracting predators. 

silver tabby cat lying on brown wooden surface
Photo by Inge Wallumrød on

Before ending this article, I need to emphasize that if your cat used to purr and no longer does, this should be looked at by a vet! Especially if your cat starts showing other symptoms like lethargy or not eating/drinking. Cat’s typically have a hard time telling us when they are not feeling well (or they do their best to hide it!), so if you notice something subtle like this it is best to keep a close eye on it and consult with your veterinarian. 

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LLC, A. (n.d.). My cat doesn’t purr: Is he unhappy? Home.

Modkat. (2019, March 2). Why doesn’t my cat purr?

Why doesn’t my cat purr? 6 reasons you should know I the discerning cat. (2021, April 29). The Discerning Cat.