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Why do Cats Purr

Subject: Science

Description: When a cat purrs it is generally accepted that the animal is happy however this is not the case. Cats that are experiencing pain or injury purr.


submit to reddit Posted by David Caldwell on 11/11/13 at 19:30

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Why do Cats Purr?

When a cat purrs it is generally accepted that the animal is happy however this is not the case.  Cats that are experiencing pain or injury purr.  This leads some to think that the frequency of a cat’s purr must have healing properties.   While there may be some evidence supporting the healing theory it is thought that purring developed in cats as a type of communication. 

Purring develops in kittens when they are a week old, they purr to tell the mother that they are gratefully receiving milk and the mother purrs to communicate that she is relaxed and sociable.

The kitten carries this behaviour into adult life and it becomes a way for the cat to communicate with humans that they are feeling sociable or grateful or seeking comfort.

The Solicitous Purr

It is believed that a cat has a special purr to invoke a response in humans, this purr is more high pitched than a sociable purr and expresses a sense of urgency that the owner needs to react to.  What is this urgent action that is needed?  ‘Feed Me’. 

Not all cats are this manipulative and the behaviour is more common in cats who live in a single person household where the cat has developed a strong bond with the one individual.

So when your cat next comes up to you purring they could be saying  ‘I’m  feeling friendly and want to interact with you socially’, ‘I need comforting‘  or ‘Thank you for being my friend’.   

Any cat owners will instinctively know which one of the three their cat is trying to communicate.

Keywords: cat, purr, sociable, solicitous




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