Don’t Worry Purr When Happy?

Dr. Jackie Pulver DVMDr. Jackie Pulver

Most people feel that cats only purr when they are happy. While it is true they do purr when happy, this is not the only reason.  Cats will purr when injured, while giving birth, when nursing, when threatened, even when dying. British zoologist Desmond Morris has observed purring as a “sign of friendship”-whether that be a cat  content with a friend or in need of a friend.  Dr Margie Scherk, a board-certified specialist in feline health likens a purr to a human smile. Much like people smile when happy, people also smile when nervous or faced 99059361-choose-cat-litter-632x475with a threat.  The purr and smile can be used a signal that says “I’m nice, please don’t hurt me”.

Although we know some reasons why cats purr, experts still do not know how.  The most common explanation is that it originates in the vestibular folds or “voicebox”.  Passing air over these structures likely causes the pleasing sound. Domesticated cats have the advantage on purring over their large feline cousins. Tigers and lions can rumble, but can never get their motor running like your household kitty.bandit