Saturday, February 18, 2012
Why Do Cats Purr?
It's fairly widely accepted and understood that cats purr when they're happy and contented. This is undoubtedly true, but there are also other reasons which are less obvious and may just surprise you!
1) Reassurance for kittens
When kittens are very young, they can't see, and they can't smell or hear very well. The vibrations from Mommy's purring allow the kittens to find her more easily. Her purring also acts as reassurance.
She's letting them know that she's friendly, happy and ready for nursing them.
2) Reassurance for themselves
It's said that cats sometimes purr when they are feeling anxious, ill, or even when they are in pain or dying. Cat purring is sometimes an act of reassurance for Kitty herself. She associates it with nice experiences, so purring when she's feeling sick, stressed, in pain or even dying, helps her to feel calmer.
I've never seen a cat in a lot of pain purr, and I've only seen sick and dying cats purr when they've been made relatively comfortable. If Kitty is relatively comfortable and calm, she may purr to de-stress herself, but if she's under a lot of stress and / or in a lot of pain, I believe that takes over and she'll be less likely to purr.
3) Reassurance for humans
I've noticed, with remarkable consistency over the years, that my cats rush to my side when I'm upset. They get really close to me and purr. I believe that again, this is an act of reassurance, but this time it's for me. It's like they're saying "We know you're upset, but we're here for you." I find it incredibly touching, and it reminds me how clever and caring our feline companions really are.
4) Other reasons
More reasons Kitty may purr include if she's:
Acknowledging she likes you and wants to be your friend
Telling you she's friendly
Over the moon about something
Enjoying her food
Settling down for a sleep
Having a nice dream
Pleased to see you
So, why do cats purr? I believe it's for a variety of reasons, based on the circumstances at the time. I think cat purring is mostly associated with positive experiences in Kitty's life. Purring during negative experiences is, I believe, Kitty's way of trying to make herself feel better.
Source: Cat Behavior Explained