top of page

What is the Purr and Why Do Cats Do It?

Most of us believe that when our cat is purring, they're happy, calm and content, and while this may be true some of the time, a purring cat is not always a happy cat.  A purring cat sound, even to us humans, can be very soothing and relaxing, but what is the purr really, and what does it mean?  The purr is being studied more and more, but we still don’t have a definitive answer to that question. 

The purr is very unique and very different from other sounds your cat makes.  It's something that takes place during both the inhale and exhale. According to a write up in Scientific America, most scientists agree and have found that the larynx or voice box, laryngeal muscles and a neural oscillator are involved and that

the purr is produced through intermittent signaling of the laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles with a consistent pattern and frequency of between 25 and 150 Hertz. Curiously, it has been found that frequencies within this range have been shown to help improve bone density and promote healing.  Which brings us to another query… Is the cat purring because she isn’t feeling well or is injured?  Perhaps trying to self-heal?

Kittens learn to purr when they are only a few days old and mother cats can purr when they are nursing. It is thought to be a way for kittens to communicate and bond with their mother when they are little, but while the purring may be a communication line between mother and kittens, purring can also be heard in cats that are injured, in pain or during times of stress. This is an indicator that the purr is not just a sound that signifies a cat is content, happy or relaxed at all, but possibly something more.

It is also thought that cats will purr to make sure they get your love and attention. Since kittens may possibly use purring to communicate with their mother, it could also be a way to get your attention and communicate with you, their person. Another possibility is to self-soothe and help calm themselves during times of stress. Ever notice your cat purr while at the vet, or during situations that may be uncomfortable to them?  This could be what your cat is doing to help calm her nerves and anxiety.

So, while there is still much for us to learn about the cats’ purr, there are a few hypotheses out there that do seem to have some merit. There is more study going about now on the purr, how it is created along with its frequency potential for helping to improve bone density and promote healing.  Perhaps we have more to learn from our lovable feline friends than we thought we did, and maybe if we’re extra special sweet to our cats, they’ll share some of their healing purrs with us!  By the way, there are lots of places out there on the internet to find, and purring cat sounds is certainly one of them.  I have a favorite site I like where you can adjust the purr and leave it running if you’re cat won’t cooperate, or if you don’t happen to have a cat currently around to share their purr!  For your constant customized of purr sounds, visit        

Make sure you get your daily dose of purr!!


bottom of page