From the below list, check the reason(s) that cats purr.

Cats purr because they are:

  • Happy, content
  • Communicating
    • With their mother or other siblings
    • With their care-takers
  • Hungry
  • Frightened
  • Calming, soothing themselves
  • Anticipating getting:  food/treats, play, attention, affection
  • Actually getting:  food/treats, play, attention, affection
  • In pain
  • Injured/sick
  • Stressed
  • Dying

    Cats purr for ALL of the above reasons.  All cats, however, do not purr for the same reasons.  Only one of my four cats purrs as soon as I start fixing their food.  The same cat, Sophee, purrs not only while I am fixing her food but also the entire time that she is eating.  The latter is quite a feat because she (like all cats) purrs while both inhaling AND exhaling.  (See prior Article:  “How Do Cats Purr?”)

    One of my prior cats, Charlie (who has crossed over the ‘bridge’), was elderly and suffering from kidney disease.  Towards his 'end,' I was worried and upset at the thought of losing him.  When I took him to see his veterinarian, I noticed that he was purring. I thought:  “What am I crying for?  He is content, just listen to him purr.” That is when I learned that cats purr not just when they are happy but also when they are ill, stressed and dying.  That was a total revelation to me.  Thus began my interest in why and when cats purr.

    Per Marilyn Krieger, animal behaviorist (  "Purring is vital for the survival of newborn kittens.  The little ones are welcomed into the world by the soft vibrations of their mom’s purr.  They are born deaf and blind but they do feel vibrations.  These vibrations are homing devices, guiding newborns to the protective warmth of mom’s body and their first meals.

    Kittens start purring when they are two days old.  They communicate back to mom and their siblings through purrs.   When kittens nurse they cannot meow, so they show their contentment by purring.  Mom's continued purring radiates comfort and safety to her little kittens."

    Purring also keeps kittens safe from predators.  Hungry predators are more likely to detect cries and other vocalizations.  Predators are less likely to detect purring vibrations. Similarly, while cat mom is giving birth, she cannot defend herself.  Painful cries attract danger.  Instead of crying, cat moms purr. Cat mom gets another vital benefit from purring which will be explained in next week's Article:  "The Benefits of Purring" (for cats and humans).