You’re sitting with kitty, scratching their ears, and then all of the sudden, you hear a familiar sound. There’s no mistaking the sound of kitty purring away! But why do cats purr in the first place?
Most cat-owners understand purring as positive behavior. It’s a sign your cat is content! This likely stems from when cats are kittens, and purring serves as vital communication between mom and babies. Kittens purr while they knead and nurse, and purring becomes associated with feeling safe, warm, and happy!
Unfortunately, your cat’s little motor doesn’t always signal an upbeat mood, but also discomfort. Purrs are to cats as smiles are to humans, and people smile for many reasons beyond happiness. When cats purr, their system releases feel-good endorphins. Because of this, many cats will purr to soothe themselves when they are sick, in pain, or anxious. If kitty is purring but otherwise seems distressed, check to see if they are injured or unwell.
You’ve probably noticed that purring take on a whole different tone during mealtime. In fact, scientists have found that domesticated cats have a specific purr to indicate hunger. This purr is more urgent, and much harder to ignore. When recorded, scientists actually discovered that these purrs have a frequency similar to that of a crying infant. Hungry purring is your cat’s way of playing to your soft side so that you’ll break out a can of soft food!
Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.
photo by Leung Ching Yau Alex on flickr