Why Do Cats Purr?
It’s hard to deny the fact that a cat balled up in your lap is warming and pleasant, but this may have left you wondering why do cats purr? You may have even wondered if cats purr during unpleasant situations as well. What makes those quiet, little motors start running, and how does it happen?
In many cases, people associate a cat’s purr with contentment and happiness, when the cat slowly closes his/her eyes and all seems to be perfectly at ease in the feline’s world. Because cats often seem to be peaceful when purring, many experts have been lead to believe that cats purr when they are satisfied and in good spirits. Cats most notably purr when they are being petted or played with.
Purring has also been theorized to be an involuntary action—a simple activation of nerves in and surrounding the cat’s voice box that can cause the “vibrations” heard coming from the cat’s throat. This “activation” may be completely involuntary and may happen when the cat becomes delighted or content.
On the other hand, cats have been known to also purr in stressful and frightening situations. During birth or near death, a cat may purr his/her way through the experience. Animal behaviorists have speculated that a cat’s purring during a taxing incidence could be his or her way of coping with it. However, not all cats will purr during problematic moments in their lives.
Cats will often use purring as a means of communication as well. When a mother cat nurses her kittens, she may purr to them in a reassuring manner. When cats play, they might purr at one another as well, letting the other know that he/she enjoys their company. Cats that meet randomly might even purr at each other to signal that they are not threatened.
Overall, when you hear a cat purring, it’s almost a sure bet that they’re doing it out of pleasure. On the flip side, if a cat refuses to purr while you play or pet, he/she could be getting agitated or anxious.