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Why do cats purr when you pet them?

The truth is that for all of us who have a cat, almost everything our little furry one does fascinates us, if not everything. If cats meow, jump, or don’t eat that much, we like to know what each thing means, perhaps to reaffirm that everything they do is a sign of love or maybe to believe we are cat experts. Whatever your motivation is, you are on the right path because there is no better way to take care of your cat than knowing her not-so-secret body language. Have you ever wondered, “Why do cars purr when you pet them?

One of the sounds that cats do the most is the famous purr. It is so common that it’s almost the first thing most people think of when someone mentions a cat—even more than a meow. And although we all love to associate our cat’s sweet and soft purr with an affectionate gesture, the truth is that behind that peculiar sound are hidden different messages, all very different from each other.

If you’ve been wondering why cats purr, this article is for you – join me in discovering the main reasons why our beautiful cats purr and how they do it!

First things first. What is “purring,” and how do they do it?

Purring is the sound that certain felines produce by almost rhythmically contracting and relaxing the larynx muscles, an organ located in the throat. This contraction generates a noticeable and rapid vibration that regulates the passage of air to the cat’s vocal cords, and it is the harmonic sound of the vibrations that we hear as a purr.

Cats, tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards can all purr, each in its way. The domestic cat, for example, has a purring frequency of between 25 and 150 vibrations per second.

And now, why do cats purr when you pet them?

Here is a list of the 5 main reasons why your cat may be purring and what it means.

1. Your cat feels happy

We all want to hear our cat purrs because she is happy with us. If one day you find yourself sitting on the couch and your cat comes to sit on your lap for you to pet it, and suddenly, it starts purring, you can be sure it’s because your kitty feels comfortable, safe, and happy. Of course, because she enjoys some excellent and well-deserved cuddles, especially if you scratch her behind her head, between her ears, or under her chin, she will go crazy with love.

why do cats purr when you pet them - happy

If you look closely, you will notice that when your cat is very entertained with her favorite toy, she will most likely purr. Also, when she plays with her cat or dog siblings. When a cat purrs, it releases endorphins, the happy hormone. Basically, she purrs because she is comfortable, and by doing so, she becomes even happier!

And consequently, purring also makes you happy because seeing your cat comfortably in your care feels good. But if you’re having a good time with your cat one day and, for some reason, she’s not purring, here are some other signs that will let you know your cat is happy:

  • She lies on her back
  • She squints and blinks slowly
  • Her ears are facing forward
  • Her tail is erect and wagging slightly

2. Mama Cat-Kitten connection

When cats are born, their body isn’t yet fully prepared to be independent, they don’t yet know how to walk, they have no balance, and their auditory canal is closed and their eyes. Even when they open their eyes, they still can’t see clearly, only shadows. Around the third week of life, a cat begins to see and hear clearly. Before this time, the little ones are entirely dependent on their mother, who has to resort to a powerful secret to be able to guide and orient her babies, the purr.

Nature is wise, and instinct is strong. Cats cannot see or hear, but they can sense the vibrations of the mother when she purrs to guide them back if they are lost or transmit security.

3. Your cat needs something

Have you noticed that your cat is brilliant? She knows you very well and knows exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to get what she needs, whether it’s food, cuddles, or some attention.

why do cats purr when you pet them - needs something

One of the most foolproof ways cats have to call the attention of their human is to play the tender card, and what better way to do it than a good purring? If your cat purrs close to you and then goes to the food bowl, it’s as clear as day. Your cat is asking for more food or a tasty snack.

So now you know, sometimes when they purr, they do it to convince you to give them what they need.

4. Healing benefits

A cat’s purr is powerful. Not only does it help them get treats, but it also has healing properties. As I mentioned, purring releases endorphins, a hormone associated with a sense of well-being. When a cat is afraid or in difficult times such as labor, it may turn to purr to self-regulate its emotions.

The magic of purring comes from its vibratory frequency, between 25 and 150 Hz, which is beneficial for cats because it helps reduce pain, and inflammation and promotes the regeneration of damaged tissues and bones. Here’s a list of the wonders that incredible purring can achieve:

  • Reduces stress and tension
  • Promotes bone healing
  • Maintains joint flexibility
  • Reduces inflammation and muscle pain
  • Supports muscle growth

5. Your cat is stressed

It is well known that cats are susceptible to any change in their routine or external stimuli unknown to them. Countless things can stress or frighten a cat, from a smell they don’t like, a new piece of furniture, a loud noise, a move, or a new member in the family; any of them can contribute to ruining your pet’s good mood.

why do cats purr - stress

Because purring has a calming effect and gives a sense of well-being when the cat is in uncomfortable situations, it may resort to purring to calm down.

If you are going to change your home environment, make sure you do it in a way that is friendly to your cat so they don’t resent the change as much. For example, if you’re moving, take your cat to the new house at least once before the move so your cat gets to know the place, or if you’re getting a new pet, keep them in separate rooms for at least a few days until they get to know each other well and learn to live together.

Why do cats purr when you pet them? The bottom line

If, after reading this, you still have doubts about the exact reason why your cat purrs, don’t worry, it’s just a matter of observing the context, and you will indeed find out. And if for some reason your cat never purrs, don’t panic. It is also entirely normal for a cat to decide not to do it or even to do it very discreetly.

Some cats rarely purr, and it doesn’t mean they don’t feel happy or loved. They may be more reserved than others. Other cats are purrito machines, and it’s hard to stop them from purring, and that’s fine too. In short, each cat is special and unique, and only you will know why your particular cat decides to purr. So the next time you feel the vibration of your cat’s purring close to you, take a good look at it and figure out what your cat is trying to tell you. I’m sure it will be something nice.

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