One of the most common assumptions we hear about cats is that they purr when they are content and happy. Is that always true?

As a matter of fact, purring is simply something cats do to express their feelings and communicate their needs. But, it does not necessarily mean that they are always happy.

BBC Future mentioned in one of their pieces that there are many reasons as to why cats might use purring. You would actually be surprised when you find out!

Here are some of the reasons your cat might be making these purring sounds frequently:

Obviously, to show happiness

Even though being happy is not the only reason why cats might purr, it is still very common. If your cat has eyes half open and tail still in a relaxed environment, it is probably the case that your cat feels pleased and content.

To bond together

The first thing that newborns feel when they come to this world is their mother’s purr. Despite the fact they are deaf and blind at first, they can still enjoy the vibrations that come from their mom when she would be purring.

After two days, kittens start purring as a way of communicating with their mom and siblings. Because they still cannot “meow”, they purr while nursing from their mom as a sign of satisfaction. Moms purr back as a way to make them feel warmth and safety.

In addition to that, kittens might purr to send messages to their mom that they are okay and to tell them where they are

To soothe themselves (and their owners)

It is very interesting that moms purr while giving birth as a way of easing the pain of labor. Since cries might attract predators, they resort to purring because they wouldn’t be as detectable. Purring releases endorphins which would ease their pain while keeping them and their kittens safe when being vulnerable.

Also, many cats purr when in pain as a way to make the unpleasant feelings easier. This is similar to how we, as humans, cry when feeling pain.

The best part is that their purrs have calming properties to their listeners as well. Research in some countries like the UK shows that cat owners are at 40% less risk of heart attacks and high blood pressures. Cats have the ability to heal the illnesses of people just by being around them. A study from the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine confirmed that 41% of the participants slept better next to their cats.

To express hunger

When cats feel hungry, they tend to purr. However, this purr is not what you might be used to hearing.

In this case, their purrs would a cry-like sound. This is called “solicitation purr” which has the same frequency as that of a crying baby.

This is why you might be able to know when the cat is purring because of hunger and you would definitely run to get some food or treats!

To ask for attention

Just like us, cats crave affection.

We cannot help but rush to give them hugs and cuddles when we hear their soft purring sounds. This is why they rely on purring every time they need their parent’s love and attention.

To heal faster

It has also been suggested that the act of purring is a way for cats to heal faster. The frequency of a cat’s purr causes a series of vibrations in the body that

  • Increases bone and muscle density
  • Soothes breathing
  • Heals bones
  • Repairs tendons
  • Lessens pain and swelling

This might be the reason why cats survive falling from high places. It could also explain why cats suffer less health complications than other pets. It is referred to by “Purr Therapy” by experts.


We should let go of the myth that cats purr only when they are happy. Purring is very complex and it may imply feelings other than pleasure such as pain, hunger, or fear.

This is why it is very important for us to stay alert when it comes to our cats. We need to observe their behavior to understand what they are trying to tell us.  We should also appreciate their purrs because they do have positive impacts on our mental and physical wellbeing.

Tell us if you are able to know what your cat’s purring means!


Comment below! Tell us know about your experience with cats