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What Do Cats Mean When They Purr?

I turn the key to my apartment after working a long day at work. The second I walk through the door. At first, I hear nothing but silence until I open the cans of wet food and hear two stampeding furry pets.

At my legs, I can feel two fuzzy bodies vibrating against my legs ferociously. I notice the purring intensifies and makes me start to think about all the times my cats purr.

Although cats will always be mysterious and mischievous, we should learn more about our furry companions. I have always been curious about cats and their way of communicating their needs. What do cats mean when they purr?

Cats purr for numerous reasons; some I didn’t even know about until I started researching.

The myths we believed about cats only purring because when happy are not entirely true. Cats purr when they require attention, socially interact with other cats, putting in requests for food, or if they are not feeling well. 

What Do Cats Mean When They Purr?

#1 Feeding Time

Anyone who has dealt with a cat has experienced the pleasure of feeding time. Shaking a bag of cat food or tapping on a can will send your little friend racing through the house. However, if you take a moment to untangle their paws from your pants, you can hear them purr. This is a request purr that you can take as a “feed me!” The duration of the purr lasts longer and higher due to the interest in food. Your cat may be more excited to see the food than you.

feeding time 

#2 Social Greetings

The misconception of thinking cats are all loners is a lie! Cats actually use purring as a way to greet one another whether they are outdoors or indoors. Cats learn to purr as young as five weeks old to touch and stimuli. Cat-to-cat interactions are more seen as a form of formality. Cat-to-cat purring is a way of communicating that they feel comfortable around one another. To be a cat and learn that another cat enjoys being around you based on how loud their purring is must be nerve-wracking! 

#3 Affection

Have you ever wondered if your cat likes you or is just using you for your food and a nice warm bed? Cats use purring as a way to show they require affection. Indoor cats form bonds with their owners which can sometimes lead to feeling stress and anxiety when left alone. When the owner returns, they are greeted with purring and rubbing as a sign of missing them during the day. The purring varies on how long the owner and cat are separated as well as the bond. How happy your cat is with you determines how loud and long the purr is. 

#4 Sick

sick cat

Purring is used to alert the people around them of any sickness. It’s like a built-in alarm system to warn people they aren’t feeling well. As kittens, they learn to use purring as a way to get attention from the mother for food and medical care. Cats that purr are generally okay as long as other symptoms or behavior changes do not show up. If you feel as though your cat is ill you should seek medical attention from your vet.  

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#5 Relaxation

It is very stressful being a cat: being fed, not paying bills, and not worrying about your love life really takes a toll. So, your cat needs ways to relax. The low purring it does before nodding off for a good nap or clearing its mind is meant to be soothing. Relaxation can also be seen in doing activities like chasing a ball, running around your apartment, or using their scratching post. Similar to how we exercise, do yoga, or play games to calm ourselves cats have their own techniques to relax. So next time you hear your cat purring in the corner while drifting off to sleep, try not to wake them.

Should I Worry About My Cat Purring?

Cats use purring as a way to tell us that they are happy with their lives. You don’t have to worry about every purr that comes out of your cat’s body. Sometimes there may be instances when you should worry about your cat purring if they do have symptoms that accompany the purring. Watch your cat’s health and well-being as well as their activities can help in making sure your cat feels at home. 

Medical Problems

Purring can be a way to signal medical issues your cat may be experiencing, but only when accompanied by other behaviors and symptoms of illnesses. Watching for changes in your cat is essential but also consult with your vet if you suspect there is a problem. Remember to take your cat to the vet and get them routine checkups to stay in the best shape they can possibly be. Like humans, they are required to see medical professionals yearly. 

Benefits of a Cat Purring 

1. Relaxing 

After a long day, you come home expecting to cuddle in your bed and eat ice cream. Your cat decides to add to your comfort and provide a little more relaxation with sweet vibrations. Think of it like a massage from your cat where your furry friend will cuddle up close to your side and vibrate along with some occasional kneading. Nothing is as soothing as having your cat care enough to stay by your side. 

relaxing cat

2. Improve Mental Health

It can be stressful trying to navigate everyday life and battling the mental anguish that knocks on the back of your mind every day. You sit on your couch, lie back, and take a moment of silence to recount the day. You feel the soft paws of a creature walking across your lap and hear the loud distinct sounds of a purr emanating from it. To go through a tough day and hear just that sound can make all your problems melt away for a bit. That purr sounds as if your cat understands you and just wants you to know it is there if you need them to be. 

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3. Feeling Wanted

Cats are seen as solitary animals that spend more time by themselves than with their owners. This myth is obviously false as not all cats act the same way. Your cat can feel when you need someone and will be there with a headbutt and a purr to show you they need you. Whether you feel depression, anxiety, or just had a bad day that requires some love they are there for you. It is a wonderful feeling to have a cat give back the same love and attention you give it and know they are there for you. 

Tips To Make Your Kitty Purr

Tip 1: Make Your House Into A Home

Sometimes you need a comfortable place to feel free and relaxed, well so does your cat. Doing household chores and keeping a clean environment helps your cat to feel less anxious. Make plans to have deep cleaning days or organize old documents so they are not in the way of your feline companion. Decorate and clean your house to feel as though you are comfortable living in it and so is your companion. Buy small items that represent you and while you’re at it maybe even buy your cat a few things to make them feel as if they live there too. Toys, a cat tree, a bed, or a scratching post can make your cat feel comfortable and relaxed. 

Tip 2: Socialize 

Cats can feel just as lonely as we do. They require more than just a house to run around in but also the touch and attention of their owners. Give your cat some well-deserved attention and love. Just as people desire contact and attention from time to time so does your cat. Throw a ball and watch them chase it, pamper your cat with some kind words, give a few good pats, and maybe spoil them with a treat or two just to make them feel appreciated and loved. Try not to go overboard or you might end up with a spoiled cat.

Final Thoughts

A cat’s purr has many meanings and depends on the situation. However, most meanings are related to social and loving behaviors. A purr can be a reward to the owner for how much they love what you do for them and appreciate the efforts you put into giving them a loving home. Your cat has ways of communicating with you without saying a word and all you have to do is listen. Enjoy spending time with your feline friends whether it’s relaxing in bed or playing using cat toys. You can enjoy the wonderful vibrations of your cat purring as they enjoy being by your side.