Why Do Cats Purr? All About Cats Purring And Meowing

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 Is there a nicer sound than a cat's purr? For cat lovers, not. Cats purr to express their well-being, and this pleasant feeling is transferred to their owner. Learn how and why do cats purr.

Why do cats Purr? The purr is like a smile.

A smile is a testimony of satisfaction and well-being. It promotes social interactions by creating a friendly atmosphere and a feeling of confidence and good humor, whether for the people who see us smiling or for ourselves. The purring of cats is quite similar. Our beloved felines purr when they are petted, when they are lying in their owner's bed when they are being nursed by their mother, when they are eating, when they meet another cat, or when they are grooming themselves. However, purring is much more than just an expression of well-being, which is also true with smiling. Purring can sometimes signal fear, overwork, pain, and hunger. But what is the purpose of purring in these situations?

why do cats purr
Why do cats make these sounds?

Why do cats purr? Purring has a calming effect, not only on us but also on the cat. He is almost the only animal capable of calming himself. Cats purr during childbirth to soothe the pain. Thanks to the purrs, the still blind and deaf kittens find their way to their mother's teats and thus to safety. Dominant cats purr to show their nervous peers that they can be quiet, and feral cats purr in the face of threats to control and calm themselves down. In addition to purring for well-being, there is also purring for pain relief, calming down, and self-control. Cat purrs are also means of communication. Young cats entice each other to play by purring, and domestic cats crave more petting, attention, or food from their owners in this way. The purring of the cat in a given situation can have different reasons:

Express his well-being

Regulate his stress

Reassure himself or reassure others

Relieve his pain

Communicate with other cats or with humans

Purring relaxes and promotes good health

The question "why do cats purr?" therefore has several answers. But, as different as the reasons for purring may be, their common goal is to find and promote relaxation and well-being. These effects of purring can be biologically proven. The long, deep buzz releases serotonin in the cat's body. Serotonin, commonly known as the happiness hormone, is a neurotransmitter that positively influences the most diverse nervous system processes, such as emotions, the central reward system, moods, consciousness, and the evaluation of pain. However, as veterinarians, scientists and behavioral scientists have discovered, this is not the only positive effect on animal health. Recent research has shown that purring provides another medical benefit in the event of injury, illness, or pain.

Healing with vibrations

Purring vibrates the whole body of the cat. During his research on the morphology of cats, Professor Leo Brunnberg of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Small Domestic Animals at the Free University of Berlin discovered that these vibrations stimulate the muscles and thus promote bone growth. These discoveries about the self-healing functions of purring also explain that cats rarely have broken bones; if this happens, they heal very quickly.

In principle, cat purring works the same way as so-called vibration training, which doctors and physiotherapists have been prescribing for some years to athletes or other patients with muscle or bone problems. To strengthen the bone structure and the muscles around it, the human body is subjected to vibrations in a frequency range of 15 to 60 hertz. Many doctors also consider this vibration training to be valuable and relevant for patients with osteoporosis because, as the cat proves, the constant mechanical stimuli of purring improve the stability and density of bones.

Positive effects for cat owners

Thus, we have a lot to learn from the self-healing effect of purring, and we can benefit from it ourselves, even if we do not suffer from muscle tension or bone and joint diseases. The soothing hum releases happy hormones in our body and soothes and relaxes us, just like our four-legged friends. A purring cat on our lap or our bed is not only a source of happiness, but it also lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of stress, and corrects sleep disorders.

How Cats Create That Buzzing

The effect of purring is undoubtedly remarkable, but how do cats purr? How do they manage to create this constant buzz? How do they vibrate their whole body without being tense or having to breathe heavily? Many scientists have already thought about this question, but this riddle has not been completely solved. While some researchers believe the sounds are caused by the laryngeal muscles that expand and constrict the glottis, others believe that the hard, inextensible hyoid bone, which connects the tongue to the cranial bone, is responsible for the continuous purring. . Still others suggest that skin flaps located near the true vocal cords (the “pseudo-vocal cords”) or even the aorta play a role in the production of purrs. This last option seems refutable today. According to current research, purring is a resonance effect thought to be produced when the vocal cords bounce.

Only Cats Can Purr

Cats can purr both when inhaling and when exhaling. They are thus distinguished from most mammals, including humans, who can only produce sounds when exhaling. Besides domestic cats, lynxes, ocelots, cougars, and cheetahs are also capable of it. Big cats like tigers, leopards, or lions sometimes emit short hisses when exhaling, but they can't hold them for long.

However, more specific studies of how cats purr have shown that the regular hum of felids differs slightly during inspiration from during exhalation. When they inhale, the purr is shorter and louder, at a frequency of 27 to 40 hertz, while when they exhale, it is slightly quieter and longer, between 16 and 28 hertz. We perceive the purring of our tiger cubs as a constant hum, which the animals can effortlessly hold in for several minutes.

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This behavior is not innate.

What seems so easy requires great physical effort. And even if kittens only a few hours old are already purring while drinking their mother's milk, it takes a while for the little ones to produce the same sound as their parents. But the effort is worth it because purring is extremely useful for the psyche and muscle and bone structure. Unlike meows, which cats only use to communicate with us, they need purring regardless of their human interactions. Thus, a solitary lynx purrs like a domestic cat. 

Have you already had your dose of purrs today?

How lucky that we can enjoy our cats' purrs despite our inability to relax our minds and bodies with self-generated vibrations. Because soothing purrs are not only contagious within a group of cats but also passed on to us. A purring cat next to us on the sofa lowers our blood pressure; we become calmer and more relaxed and leave the stress of everyday life behind for a while.

why do cats purr
Why doesn't my cat purr anymore?

One of the most recognized and adorable characteristics that define the cat is its ability to purr. This sweet sound is generally associated with a feeling of well-being and fullness. By listening to it, we feel better, and we think that our cat is happy and that he shows us his immeasurable affection.

How does cat purring occur?

The purring of our cats is quite incredible; however, do you know how it happens? Several theories exist on the subject. Some affirm that it is born at the thorax level when it crosses the diaphragmatic hiatus and that the bronchi filled with air amplify the vibration. However, a study in the Journal Of Zoology suggests that purring is laryngeal modulation driven by respiratory flow.

When do kittens start purring?

The purring of kittens appears only two days after their birth; at this young age, purring is a form of communication between kittens and their mother during the nursing period. The cubs suckle, purr, and massage their front paws on their mother's belly to stimulate the flow of milk; plus it's what lets the mother know that all have been fed properly. This is why many adult cats massage, drool, and suckle on our clothes while they are purring. Cuddling our cat tends to activate this sound, although this is not always the case.

What does cat purring mean?

But why do cats purr? In addition to being an indicator of well-being and relaxation, a cat may purr when it is stressed or sick, for example, when you take it to the vet. In this case, he will purr to comfort himself! 

When they purr, cats can unfold a wide spectrum of tones: more or less intense, more or less expelled air, different speeds, or different meanings because they can also purr when they want to ask you something! Among felines, it is not only domestic cats that purr. This behavior is also found in wild cats (Felis silvestris). But then, suddenly, why does your cat no longer purr?

My cat no longer purrs

Let's see why a cat does not purr when relaxed, asleep or cuddled. These cats can be divided into three groups:

Cats that purr inaudibly. These cats purr so softly that the only way to hear them is by pressing our ears to their body or placing our hands at neck level to feel the vibration produced.

Cats that don't purr at all. Some cats do not purr at all because they are just like that and have absolutely no pathology; they are of course, pleased and love their guardians immeasurably. Cats have different communication channels, and each cat chooses what they want or need. As is the case with humans, each cat has its personality, so some will be more or less expressive, more or less cuddly, or more or less sociable.

Cats that no longer purr. A cat's behavior changes with its age, experiences, and circumstances, which is why a cat that purrs a lot can suddenly stop doing so or a cat that hasn't the habit of purring can start to set in. However, if your cat stops purring after a sudden change or shows clinical symptoms, you should take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

In the rest of our article, Why does my cat no longer purr we will see other forms of feline communication that can replace purring.

My cat no longer purrs but meows.

Meowing is another form of communication typical of cats. They use it in multiple situations and with different meanings. Thus, a cat that does not purr can understand himself perfectly through his meows. Among the most common meanings are: 

Meows to demand attention: he is reserved for making us understand that he needs something, like cuddles or food. You will quickly identify it because it will be an urgent meow that will only stop when it gets satisfaction.

Meowing of a cat in the heat: this type of meowing is characteristic of unsterilized cats during their heat. It's a high-pitched meow that might sound like some kind of scream.

Meowing to enter or exit: if our cat is lucky enough to have access to the outside, this kind of meowing will be performed in front of a door or a window through which it is accustomed to going out.

Meow of pain: it is a meow that cannot be confused with another, it is the symptom that something is wrong; in general, this meow is the symptom of an illness. It will be essential to consult our veterinarian.

Meow of welcome: some cats are born chatterers accustomed to meowing characteristically each time you come home, when they enter a room or when you meet them in the apartment.

My cat no longer purrs and bites

Sometimes we can wonder why our cat does not purr, and we do not realize that the latter communicates with us in its way. In addition to meowing, some cats tell us a lot through biting. The basic meanings of these would be as follows:

Playful bite: it is normal for kittens to bond with each other through playful bites. Cats are carnivorous beings, and biting is one of the activities they must develop to survive; even if an apartment cat does not need to hunt, it is normal for kittens to bite each other. The fact that kittens bite each other allows them to learn to control the power of their jaws; normally, with age, it is a habit that they lose as they grow. It is normal for our kittens to bite us; however, it is our duty to teach them that they should not do so, and for this purpose, we recommend that you try to divert their attention to the small toys provided for this attention. In some cats, this stage persists over time, whether through a lack of socialization or because they have not been told that they should not bite; they continue to do so each time we try to play with them.

Amorous bite: some cats bite us delicately to show us their affection for us. When we hug them, they catch a part of our body with their mouth, such as the nose, in general, these bites are soft as if they were a little kiss.

Warning Bite: This is usually more of a marking than a real bite. A cat will mark you to conclude an activity that stresses it. For example, a cat can mark us when we cuddle it too much or when we touch his belly.

As we have just seen, all these bites tell us something without the need to purr, and although they are bites, they have nothing to do with aggression. If our cat bites us violently, you must take him to an ethologist as soon as possible.

A cat that does not purr and rubs itself

As we have seen, the fact that our cat does not purr does not mean it does not communicate with us or is not happy. After talking about mewing and biting, we want to talk about rubbing! When a cat rubs against our legs, it is a clear sign of well-being and affection that not all cats necessarily complement with purring.

Our cat will rub against our body and, more specifically, against the most easily accessible part of our body, such as the face or the legs. He will even jump to cover a larger contact area. If we look closely, we will see that they always rub each other using the same body parts, especially his head. It's not just a coincidence; your cat rubs the parts that release endorphins and at the same time, allows him to leave his scent.

How to make a cat purr?

As we explained to you throughout our article Why My Cat Doesn't Purr Anymore, whether a cat purrs or not is not an indicator of happiness, nor is it proof that they are not purring. Not communicate with you. However, here are some tips to make your cat purr:

Give him hugs

Make sure he's not stressed

Give him his favorite food to eat

why do cats purr
Why does my cat purr all the time?

The purring of cats is a phenomenon known all over the world. However, the physical mechanism that causes this particular noise is still unknown. If your cat purrs a lot, wags its tail, or purrs very loudly, you will find the meaning in this article.

It's not just domestic cats that purr, as many wild cats, such as tigers, panthers, lions, leopards, jaguars, and cheetahs, purr. Also, most small feral cats make this characteristic sound while paddling.

As we said earlier, the cat's purr is a sound whose origin is still unknown, as is the origin of the mechanism that emits it.

Two scientific theories explain why a cat purrs all the time: electromyographic studies support the hypothesis that it is the muscles of the cat's larynx that tremble due to the expansion and contraction of the glottis, whose activity rapid causes vibrations when the cat breathes. This physical mechanism would cause the purr.

Another theory that explains why a cat purrs always holds that this sound is of hemodynamic origin. According to this hypothesis, the cat's purring would come from the inferior vena cava. More precisely, at the diaphragm level, the muscles compress the blood in the veins, which causes vibrations transmitted through the bronchi.

The mother's purr

During and after childbirth, the cat communicates with its young by purring. Kittens also have the innate ability to purr after a week, and they use this to communicate with their mother. If your cat purrs all the time and is still small, this is completely normal.

The cat uses the purr to calm her young during the traumatic moment of whelping. Then it signals the litter box's location because the kittens are blind for a few days. Next, through purring and smell, the mother guides her young to suckle. Finally, the mother calms her kittens during lactation to prevent them from biting her teats while suckling.

When kittens learn to purr, they communicate their emotions to their mother. Contentment during breastfeeding, but also discomfort or fear. Purring is not monotonous; there are various frequencies that the cat uses depending on the situation.

The purr of pleasure

All people in the company of cats in their home have already experienced the satisfaction of feeling a cat purr on their lap or during petting. 

The purring of domestic cats is a kind of buzzing that is the product of 25 to 150 vibrations per second. Thanks to this wide range of tones, the cat can express precisely what he wants and his mood. But, contrary to popular belief, purring does not always mean the cat is happy.

The various meanings of purring

The most frequent and the best known is the cat's purring, which expresses pleasure in pleasant situations for him. For example, cats purr when eating but also when petted, although the latter is a more complex purr. Indeed, it not only indicates that your cat is happy, but it is also a sign of recognition and trust because the cat feels loved.

However, the cat may also purr when sick and ask for your help. Cats also purr to avoid stressful situations, for example, after being scolded, or to avoid a fight with other cats by emitting a friendly purr.

The different types of purring

We have seen that through purring, the cat can show various emotions. Below we will relate the different tones, frequencies, and meanings for you to understand your beloved pet better:

If your cat purrs erratically, it means he is pleased.

On the other hand, if the cat purrs vigorously and regularly, it's a sign that it wants something. It can be food, water, or your caresses.

If the cat purrs loudly, it usually means that the animal is sick and needs your help to relieve some pain or discomfort (yes, a cat's purr can sometimes express pain).

The cat purrs singly and evenly signifies that it wants to end a delicate situation. For example, when someone looks him in the eye, which is a sign of confrontation for cats. In this case, the cat purrs in the manner described above to express that it poses no danger and wants to be your friend. When this happens, you will have to blink very slowly and pet it, ending your tension.

You will have to consider the tone usually used by your cat. Indeed, in the same way, that people have different voices, each cat has his tone, lower or higher, faster or slower.

Cat not purring

If your cat is not purring, it could have several causes. Indeed, this can mean that he wants to get your attention, that he no longer purrs because of pain, that he has experienced trauma, etc. To find out more, read our article Why does my cat no longer purr? 

why do cats purr
Cat or kitten meowing, why and what to do?

Now we know why do cats purr, but why do cats meow? Does your cat talk to you? Listen to him, and he has a claim to make! Hunger, thirst, desire for cuddles, to play, it's up to you to decipher his message. And if he continues to meow despite everything, a little update on his education could solve the problem, unless he is sick, which he can also show you by no longer meowing. Who said our pets couldn't talk?

Why does the cat meow?

Meowing is the cat's mode of communication with humans; a cat meows to express a need: hunger or thirst, the desire for cuddles, the need to go out, a call for help, or boredom - the cat meowing at night often does so because it is boring, the night is a period of great activity for cats.

The cat can make many sounds and various types of meows, depending on what it expresses. According to ethologists (specialists in animal behavior), 11 different sounds are used daily by cats to express themselves, although they can emit more than a hundred:

The classic meow: the more repeatedly and loudly your animal meows, the more intense the need it expresses.

Purring is a rhythmic, soft sound. We know it well during hugs or when the cat eats, but these are not the only times when cats purr. For example, a cat purrs with her little ones to calm them down when they are just born; kittens purr when they are suckling or excited. Purring is, therefore, generally associated with well-being. However, a cat can purr when it does not feel well or feels threatened. To learn more, read our article on cat purring and its mysteries.

The murmur is a mixture of mewing, purring, and growling. It indicates a happy animal's satisfaction and gratitude, for example, when it has eaten well.

Cats in heat communicate by meowing with their fellow cats. The cat emits long, repetitive meows; the male's meow is more hoarse, sometimes accompanied by rumbling.

The mother cat's meow is emitted with its mouth closed (or slightly open), it is repetitive and very brief, less than a second, and is used to communicate with its young. The cat can also use this “chirp” to say hello to its masters.

During its first week, the kitten pushes, if necessary, a small, very high-pitched, and short mew. Then, it is a call for help addressed to its mother.

Spitting is used to defend itself, a threatening vocalization emitted with the mouth open by ejecting air.

Spitting cat

The growl is a warning when the cat is disturbed. If it is more frequent, without reason, a visit to the veterinarian is necessary because it can mean that the cat is in pain.

The howl, a long, loud, high-pitched meow, is the next step after the growl. Much more threatening, it precedes an attack.

The meow of pain is very high-pitched, shrill, and loud. Some cats also grow it after mating.

Cackling is the noise a cat makes when it is tense while hunting. When he watches a bird or even a mouse, he can emit a jerky and quiet mew under the effect of excitement and envy.

Some cats meow all the time simply because they are more talkative than others. This may come from their race, those from Asia being reputed to be the most talkative: Siamese, Tonkinese, Burmese, Balinese, Korat.

What to do with a meowing cat?

The first thing to do is to check that all his needs are met: he has enough to eat, and fresh water, his litter is clean, he has something to do, he has a choice of places to rest high up, he has a scratching post, do you spend time playing with him and cuddling him every day?

It meows at night

The night is not a good time to sleep with the cat. If he can't get out for a walk, your cat will get bored and meow outside your door. It is crucial to quickly get him used to spending the night quietly, even when he is still only a kitten. Do not open the door to him, be patient until he is used to it. If you give in, he will have to understand that by insisting, he will get what he wants.

A feeling of “abandonment” can exacerbate this boredom if you close your door to him. Instead, take time with him in the evening before going to bed to make him play, and exercise. First of all, he will feel reassured, and the more you will have tired him, and he will spend time sleeping during the night.

Another common cause of nocturnal meowing is the cat's lack of access to food, water, or a litter box.

A cat that cries loudly, especially at night, with a hoarse meow, is definitely in heat. To avoid these turbulent periods and the litters that go with it if it is a female, have your cat sterilized, who will be much more serene afterward.

Kitten meows

He meow for no reason.

If you feel your cat has everything it needs, and avoids paying attention to its meows, it will only reinforce them. On the other hand, if you don't react, the meowing should gradually decrease.

Be careful, though, if your pet meows for no apparent reason. It may be due to physical damage (injury, illness), especially if it appears suddenly or to real discomfort. Pay attention to the presence of other symptoms that could indicate poor health or suffering to speak to your veterinarian. For example, an older cat that meows often hides a health problem.

He meows constantly

He constantly meows to eat: it meows early in the morning, even all day or when you come home. Your cat is likely hungry, especially if its last meal occurred many hours before. Cats have the instinct to eat small amounts throughout the day, especially at night, although sometimes they develop other habits. Try to feed him before bed, or even offer him a dispenser so that he is no longer hungry in the morning at dawn and throughout the day. He will thus balance his food intake himself.

He constantly meows in the car: the continuous movements can be the cause of these meows. The cat tries to stabilize itself, using its inner ear for this, but it is not intended to work for a long time. This can be destabilizing for the animal, even painful. There are unique cat belts, thanks to which the movements are less than in their crate. Being confined is also a source of stress. Calming pheromones can be beneficial. To help you, read our eight tips for traveling well with your cat in the car.

He meows when I come home or to cuddle: your cat demands attention, and he can feel neglected and unhappy. Set up a daily ritual with him, a privileged moment when you care for him. He will get into this habit and wait for this moment to come and ask you. On the other hand, get into the habit of not responding to his meows outside of these times, ignore him, and take the initiative yourself when he does not ask to come to pet him. The presence of another cat can also do him good and allow him to support your absence better.

He meows all the time to go out: if he meows to relieve himself outside, it is a good idea to install a cat flap so that he can manage on his own. If this is not possible for you, establish a litter box. even if you have to clean it every day, your cat will be more zen, and so will you!

What if your cat doesn't meow anymore?

This absence of mewing is often due to laryngitis, due in particular to an infection such as coryza. It will be accompanied by other symptoms: discharge from the nostrils and eyes, cough, sneezing, and fever.

The cat can also be bothered at the level of the vocal cords, for example by a ball of hair. In this case, it will pass quickly. Make him lick a little butter to facilitate the passage of the object obstructing him.

A cat that no longer meows can also be affected by a severe pathology, the tumor of the larynx.

The veterinarian can treat it quickly in the case of coryza, and it is easy to diagnose; an endoscopy may, however, be necessary in other cases.

Monitor your cat's behavior. It is certainly a temporary discomfort if he usually acts and continues to drink, eat, and play. In the presence of other symptoms and/or if the absence of meowing persists, especially if the cat no longer meows and no longer eats, go to your veterinarian.

A cat that no longer meows and drools generally shows a problem with the throat, larynx, or even the mouth; it can no longer swallow. It can be a lesion, his drool will then be colored pink or red, or an infection, it will be very white and smelly. An opinion from the veterinarian is to be taken quickly; the possible causes are many and varied.

Conclusion

The cat has lived with humans for a long time and has developed a language to make itself better understood by humans. Its language is now very varied and can help us to live better with our animals. Everything is significant in the intensity of his meows, the moments during which he expresses himself, so listen and observe!

 

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