We love to hear our cats purr, don't we? We take it as a sign that our pets are happy, healthy, and well fed. A purring cat is like an acknowledgment that we are doing a good job as a pet owner.
But if you're like me—a cat owner all my life—you probably have noticed that your cat's purr is a bit more involved, not simply a way of saying thank you for feeding her. So, exactly why do cats purr?
To Express Feelings
Cats do purr when they are happy. You feed your cat, you give her a nice scratch behind the ear, and off she goes, purring. A purr in this situation lets us know how our cat is feeling. It's her way of telling us she's content.
But cats also may purr to comfort themselves or when they are scared. Have you noticed? When I take my cat to the vet for a check up, she purrs. She purrs when I put her in the carrier, and she purrs when the vet lifts her onto the exam table.
Cats thus purr to express all kinds of feelings. Purring for cats then is a bit like smiling for humans. We smile when we are happy, sure, but we may also smile when we are nervous.
Answering the question, "why do cats purr?" isn't so easy!
To Show Us Love
Scientists may debate among themselves whether animals feel love, but among cat owners the question is a no brainer. Of course they do!
Cats show other cats love by grooming them or by nuzzling. Some cats may even show dogs they live with that they love them. I knew one cat who loved to sleep curled up with her housemate, a 150-pound Rottweiler!
And cats, as we pet owners know, love us too. They follow us from room to room. They rub against our legs. And they purr deep, contented purrs. Each purring breath they take shows us a little bit of love.
The fact is, we may not know everything about why cats purr, but we do know this: Our lives sure are fuller, richer, and more full of affection for having them around.
Thanks to Joseph Young and Purina Petcentric for this information.
Joseph lives in Baltimore with his tabby cat, Annabelle. He often writes about pets with Annabelle perched comfortably on his lap.