Cats make a lot of different noises. They meow. They yowl. They hiss. They chirp. And they purr.
Why exactly do cats purr? Most of the time, it has to do with happiness, but that is not always the case. Cats can purr for other reasons, like when they are nervous, when they are hungry, or when they are healing themselves.
Kittens purr when they are first born.
When kittens are born, they are deaf and blind. However, they are able to feel vibrations.
Their mothers will purr at them to lead them closer. The purring helps the little ones locate where to go for food and warmth.
When kittens grow to be a day or two old, then they will purr back at their mothers as a way to express their happiness. It shows that they feel comfortable, that they feel safe where they are staying.
Their purring helps create an even stronger bond between mother and child. It helps them grow to trust each other.
Purring is also a survival technique. If a cat makes a lot of noise by meowing during childbirth or while living day-to-day life, then predators would probably be able to hear and attack. But if they purr instead, the soft sound will go undetected by most other animals, keeping the cat safe.
That is why, sometimes, a cat will choose to purr for the same reasons why it would meow.
Cats purr when they are hurt.
A cat purring is similar to a child sucking their thumb. It is a coping mechanism. It is a way to make themselves feel better when they are experiencing pain.
However, it is not only a way for them to soothe themselves. It can actually help them feel better physically, not just psychologically.
Research suggests that purring can encourage a cat to heal faster. Purring releases endorphins, which reduces pain. It can also heal their bones and their wounds. It can build muscle and repair tendons. It can ease breathing. It can lessen pain and swelling.
You have probably heard the saying about cats having nine lives. Their healing abilities are one of the reasons why they are able to survive such high falls in a way other animals cannot.
Cats purr when they are comfortable.
Some cats will purr when they want attention or when they are trying to get you to give them food or a belly rub — but most of the time, purring means a cat is perfectly content.
That is why you will typically hear your cat purr while they are sitting on your lap, getting rubbed by you, or sleeping in their bed. It means they are at peace. It means there is no place they would rather be.
There are some other ways you can tell whether your cat is relaxed, in addition to their purring. They might rub up against your feet, they might knead their paws against your stomach, or they might groom your hair with their tongue. All of those behaviors mean you have a good relationship with your pet.
Hearing a cat purr is the same as seeing a dog wag their tail or seeing a baby smile. It is a sign of happiness. It is a sign your kitten loves you.