Why Do Cats Purr?
We all know the soothing sound of a cat purring. It usually occurs when your feline friend is getting love and attention, so we naturally assume that purring is a sign of a happy feline. Although it is true that cats purr to show contentment, it turns out that their purring can mean a whole range of different emotions.
Not all members of the cat family purr. While smaller cats and domestic cats purr, most big cats roar. There is a good reason for this distinction. Big cats use their roar to protect their territory and their prides while roaming around for prey. Smaller cats, on the other hand, use scent to mark their territory and are more likely to be loners. As such, they do not need a strong roar to communicate with other felines or potential intruders. We are lucky to be greeted by a happy purr instead of a threatening roar every time we snuggle with the cat!
Cats use purring not only to show happiness, but also to soothe themselves if they are in pain. For example, if your kitty cat has recently been through a surgery or any other kind of painful procedure, you might find her purring to help her heal and to manage her pain.
A purr’s pain soothing effect has to do with the release of endorphins while purring. This is also why cats purr while giving birth – it helps them cope with pain. It is also a better alternative to loud mewing or crying, which can attract potential predators at a time when the mom cat is very vulnerable. Because cats purr during delivery, purring is the first thing kittens hear when they are born. Newborn kittens are born blind and deaf, so in the beginning they use the vibrations from purring as a way to communicate with their mama cat. Kittens are also not able to meow while nursing, but they can purr to let their mom know they are happy.
Cats can also purr if they want something from their humans, such as food, water, or a clean litter box. The sound frequency of purring peaks at a similar frequency to a baby’s cry. This makes it a great way to grab people’s attention and make them more likely to respond to a request.
In addition to its usefulness to cats, purring also has added benefits to humans. The sound of purring has a relaxing effect and lowers blood pressure – just another benefit of spoiling your cat!