Why Do Cats Purr
Finding an answer to why do cats purr is not as simple as it seems. When an owner hears his cat purr, it seems to be the ultimate sign of contentment. It produces a soothing effect to have a cat crawl into your lap, settle in and start its motor running. They appear to be at peace with the world and it helps their owner embrace a similar calmness. It melts away the stress created by some jerk cutting you off in rush hour traffic for the millionth time. It releases the pressure built up from your boss piling one inane report after another on your desk and wanting them all done by Friday afternoon. When your cat is purring, you are happy.
Does purring mean a cat is always happy though? Purring can be a expression of many emotions for a feline. If you hear a cat purring, chances are it could be for any one of these reasons:
- Talking with other cats. The original purpose of purring for a cat is communicating with its mother. Newborn kittens can purr by the time they are two days old. Purring is their way of communicating to the mother cat that they are fine. When a mother cat purrs back to her kittens, it is to reassure them they are safe. All smaller cats and even some larger cats like mountain lions use purring to communicate with each other. It is usually done by a cat to signal to other cats they are friendly and that the other cats do not need to feel threatened by its presence.
- Delivering kittens. Mother cats will purr while delivering a litter of kittens. It functions sort of like a feline epidural. Still, it is unlikely we will see any doctor who values his life and health recommending to a woman in labor that making purring sounds will calm her.
- Fright. When cats are scared by another animal, a person or something else, sometimes they will purr as a way to calm themselves and relieve stress. It is the equivalent of feline meditation.
- Illness. A cat who is battling an illness will often purr. Some cats are even known to purr around the time of death. This final purring may be a release of the anxiety these felines feel as they are dying.
- Contentment. A cat will always purr when it is feeling happiness. Sometimes it is because they are enjoying sitting on their owner's lap and getting petted. Other times, it is an expression of their satisfaction over eating your new fern or scratching up the nice sofa in the living room. At that point, you might not share their sense of peace.