Whether we’re talking about domesticated cats, wild cats, small cats, and/or big cats, one thing is certain… cats purr. Even those who don’t have a cat as a pet know that a cat’s purr is normal behavior.

But have you ever wondered what causes them to do this? Why do cats purr?

As a cat owner, it is very easy to come to the conclusion that cats purr when they are happy. It often happens when your cat found a small box to fit in, or curls up in your lap, or even when they are receiving scratches and belly rubs.

why do cats purr
Photo by Jens Enemark

However, you can also hear your cats purr when they are frightened, or when they feel threatened. Observe this reaction when you bring them to the vet, or when they find a strange feline roaming around your property. You will hear a purr from your cat, that’s for sure.

To understand exactly why cats purr, we’ll turn to Dr. Kelly Morgan, a renowned veterinarian to explain the reason behind a purr. According to a good doctor, purring can easily equate to smiling.

In an article on WebMD, Dr. Morgan says that similar to how people smile when they are either happy, nervous, or when they want something, a cat purrs for the same reasons.

The purring begins in a cat’s brain. The brain then sends the message to a cat?s laryngeal muscles which causes them to twitch at a rate of 25 to 150 vibrations per second. When this happens, the cat’s vocal cords separate. This results to a purr when the cat inhales and exhales.

And, fun fact, cats are not the only beautiful creatures to do so. Raccoons, Hyenas and even Guinea Pigs can purr.

There may be more to the purring story, however. There are some studies that show that cats use purring as a way to communicate with their humans.

In fact, there is a research at the University of Sussex where they found domestic cats often hide a plaintive cry within their purrs. This irritates their humans, but it appeals to their nurturing instincts. How cool is that?

why do cats purr
Photo by Jens Enemark

There are other studies that show cats purr to get their humans to feed them sooner. Smart, huh?

Others, like bioacoustics researcher, Elizabeth von Muggenthaler, believe that a cat’s purr is also a way to heal themselves. Like a form of therapy, it is found that a cat’s purr can help repair their bones, repair muscles and tendons, helps make breathing easier, and reduces their pain and swelling.

So, why do cats purr? Well, from the research above, it’s clear we don’t know exactly why. But we have some really good clues to help us understand this behavior.

Photo Credit: Jens Enemark

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