View Full Version : Why do cats purr?

03-17-2001, 11:12 PM
   This article says the frequency of purring helps to heal bones. Revealed: how purrs are secret to cats' nine lives (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?pg=/et/01/3/18/wcat18.html)

4 feline house
03-18-2001, 12:27 AM
My favorite author, James Herriott, wrote a series of books detailing his life as a veterinarian in the Yorkshire dales of England during the 30's through the 60's. These are true stories. I remember at least two stories in which a cat was brought in, nearly fatally wounded, and Mr. Herriott was struck by the nearly dying cat's ability to continue purring loudly. Both these cats survived. Maybe this explains why!

03-18-2001, 08:11 AM
I had read somewhere that cats often purr when feeling ill and never understood this. I guess this sheds some light. The only time my cats will definitely not purr is on that shiny metal table at the vet's. http://PetoftheDay.com/talk/biggrin.gif

03-18-2001, 01:32 PM
of three cats lucy only purrs when she wants something (and she has a squeek in her motor), Molly always has her motor going and Gina has a quiet little purr when she is being petted.

While we are on the subject of vocals. Molly cannot meow. She sounds like someone stepping on a squeek toy. She sounds so pathetic when she tries.

03-18-2001, 04:23 PM
A cat we had one summer - a stray someone threw out of the car at the corner of our street (city folks would bring half-grown cats to our neighborhood often to dump them - "It's the country, they'll survive just fine, right?" NOT!!!!!) never learned to meow properly. He was maybe 4-5 months old and starving when he showed up, Dad "accidentally" left a dish of chicken scraps on the porch, and that was that. But his only animal companion was our St. Bernard, so we thought he'd never learn to meow, maybe bark! Even when he first came, though, his purring skill was well-developed, and oft-exercised!

By the way, when, after months, he finally did attempt a meow, it took us a couple days to figure out what that wierd sound he was making was - we finally realized he was doing a close approximation af the squeak the cellar door made! http://PetoftheDay.com/talk/smile.gif Better than barking, I guess!

Maybe that's another reason pets owners live longer - a purring cat on the lap is good for body AND soul! Maybe now they'll have cats in all old-age homes, to help the patients, especially with osteoporosis, heal bone faster!

4 feline house
03-18-2001, 04:30 PM
I have heard before that actually cats will purr when they are experiencing any extreme emotion, whether it be pleasurable or disturbing. I've had many cats who purr at the vet's. In fact, Big went for his annual last month, and Dr K couldn't even listen to his heart for his loud motor running! Of course, Big isn't the best example, because unlike most cats, he doesn't find the vet to be all that distressing.

I've had two cats that don't purr at all, at least not audibly. Boosie (rainbow bridge) would seldom purr, and even then you had to be in a quiet room with your ear to her chest to hear it. But she was not an unhappy cat.

Cookie is about a year and a half old now, and I have yet to hear her purr, although she is a very contented little girl.

03-19-2001, 03:37 AM
One of our cats when I was a child, Sam, never meowed or purred - he was completely silent. He did occasionally open his mouth and try to make a sound, but never succeeded. When I got my first, very vocal, ginger Oliver, I couldn't believe how noisy a cat could be!


03-19-2001, 01:11 PM
I'm with 4Feline. I've read that cats will purr during any kind of extreme emotion. That comes as surprising since most are familiar with the purring of a content cat on a lap or lying in a patch of sun. Although, I do remember when I was much younger, our family cat had injured himself outside and I went to rescue him and was surprised to find that he was purring!

As for the meow thing, Marius doesn't meow, but he chirrups. I was wondering if this was a genetic thing, or if maybe he was injured or abused before I found him as a stray. Who knows. When he does meow, it's a tiny pathetic peep of a meow, which is amusing coming from a 16 pound male cat! Most of the time he chirrups though.

Karen definitely said it in that people with pets live longer lives. I remember reading about a study that was done about the effects of pets on people's lives and they concluded that people whith pets had lower blood pressure and less stress. That's why I think it's great that some retirement homes and medical facilities have adopted the practice of having animals brought in every week to visit with the patients.

The next question...What exactly is a purr and where does it come from???

"In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats." - English proverb

03-19-2001, 03:20 PM
On the subject of vocalizations, both my cats Xander and Miuccia purr, but neither cats make the traditional "meow" noise.

Xander makes a lot of different "yeows", including one that sounds a lot like hello ("yaaaallwooooo") when he greets me in the morning, and certain types of yeows when he is hungry. What is more unusual is that in the morning, Xander barks like a little dog ("roawp, roawp, roawp") in order to make sure everyone wakes up.

Miuccia usually doesn't say anything at all, but when she does, it is a hoarse sounding "aaarh!".

4 feline house
03-20-2001, 08:47 PM
I had a orange tabby and white named Toot who had such a mouth. If he wanted me to do something and I was busy with something else and not paying attention to him, he would actually yell at me! "RrrreYOW!" was how he would do it! And one time, I swear he went "woof!" I thought a dog had gotten in the house! He had all kinds of meows....well, except the quiet kind.

03-21-2001, 12:49 AM
...4felinehouse, I know what you mean - one of mine will, Typha sometimes get impatient and will yell at me too, its a real "Hey you!!!" statement. Bless them.

03-22-2001, 08:56 AM
My cat only purrs when she wants me to pet her or if I'm holdung/ petting her already.

Ben E Gas
03-27-2001, 08:24 AM
My cat Zezu doesn't really meow much. When he wants to get through a door he'll meow. He purrs when he's cuddling or when we come home at night. He makes this really cute noise too. It's more of a sputtered cry, if that makes sense. Usually, if he wants something(food or something doesn't seem right(me sneaking up on him). When we take him in the car he makes a miserabley sad noise. A real cry, sounds like he's talking jibberish. poor guy. When he was mad at the vet he hissed and snorted at him. The vet. was really nice to him, but zezu just doesn't like it there. When he is playing and gets excited he makes a funny breathing noise and snorts too.

04-18-2001, 03:26 PM
My cat purrs so much that, after rescuing him, I decided to name him "Evinrude", which is a brand-name of MOTOR!

06-08-2002, 12:57 AM
I heard when cats purrs that they are happy, ill or scared but I don't unerstand why they purr when they are ill. Purrs are unkown.

06-08-2002, 05:26 AM
I've read that one of the reasons cats purr, is to tell they're not dangerous, that also explains why they purr when they're ill. However, I've noticed that our cat Fister purrs when he's content - or when he's coming up on our bed, waiting for a cuddle. But he has also been purring while ill.

C.C.'s Mom
06-08-2002, 09:41 AM
I always thought that my cats purr to make me happy :D