I remember when I met Caesar, my cat, for the first time. He was just 2 months old and the size of an overgrown squirrel. The first words that came out of my mouth were, “Wow, he looks so tiny and cute!”
The next day, my hands were covered with bite marks and scratches. Cruel, sadistic, and extremely selfish, yet at the same time majestic, elegant, graceful, and oh, so cute. That, my dear friends, is the creature called cat!
A few days later, Caesar gave us a scare. For some reason, he was quiet, clingy and that struck us as odd, given what a chaos-loving devil he is. When I lifted him up to see if something was wrong, I felt him vibrating. More specifically, his chest was vibrating and he was making an odd sound. At first, I was worried something was wrong. After a little while, having googled a little about it, I realised this is what is called purring.
When a cat purrs, it is usually a signal that it is content and satisfied. However, that is not the only time cats purr though. Why do cats purr then? Well, here are some possible reasons –
It’s happy and content
As I mentioned above, cats usually purr when they are in a happy mood. If your cat looks relaxed and calm, with eyes half-closed and no tail-wagging, you can be sure he is in a good mood. He’ll probably even let you cuddle him if you’re lucky.
If the meowing and yowling don’t grab your attention, your cat will probably try to do so by purring and thus letting you know that he is hungry. If he is purring and rubbing his body on your feet as if trying to get your attention, you can safely assume he is asking for his meal.
Purring is an evolutionary and biological instinct
Cats are born blind and deaf and they only start hearing and seeing two weeks after they are born. When they are less than 2 weeks old, purring is a way for them to let their mothers know where they are. They also use purring to tell their mothers that it’s feeding time. Purring is also a way for the kitten and its mother to bond. The same behaviour is carried into their adult life as well. Cats also purr to bond with their owner.
Purring for pain relief and healing
This study sheds light on how purring can be used by cats as a healing mechanism. Many cats purr when they are hurt or are in pain. In such a scenario, it’s more like a coping mechanism.
However, purring happens at a very low frequency. Such low-frequency vibrations within the body, it has been found, can lessen pain and swelling and ease their breathing. It can also build muscle, repair tendons, and even heal broken bones and wounds. This phenomenon has been observed in bigger cats like pumas.
How do you know why your cat is purring?
Well, only your cat can know for sure. But, if you observe the overall context and the situation your cat is in as well as your cat’s behaviour closely, you can surmise why it’s doing so. If you’re visiting a vet and your cat is lying on the vet’s table, it will be safe to assume he is scared and is purring to calm himself down.
If he is getting clingy and cuddly, it either wants some attention or it wants food. If he is purring but his behaviour seems different than usual, he might be afraid or anxious for some reason. If you think he is behaving differently and something might be wrong, see your vet about it.