Not all cats purr.  Cats that purr cannot roar.  Cats that roar cannot purr. Humans have long researched and studied cats to determine specifically what the mechanism is that enables some cats to purr while others cannot.  Details of that discussion were in July’s Mews ‘N News Article “How Do Cats Purr?”

Cats that do purr are:  the Domestic Cat, Bobcat, Ocelot, Lynx, Puma, Cougar, Serval and the Cheetah.  They are in the Felinae Subfamily.  ALL cats are of the Felidae family.

Cats that don’t purr are:  the Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Jaguar, Snow Leopard and Clouded Leopard.  They are in the Pantherinae Subfamily.  Some feel that the Snow Leopard purrs but others feel they do not.  They are very solitary cats.  

All cats are able to spit, hiss, growl, yowl, snarl and mew.  Only big cats roar and chuff.  Lions roar habitually.  Large cats also snort, grunt, cough, and wail.  Is a lion’s ‘chuffing’  purring?   No, because the 'chuffing' sound is produced while exhaling.  Thus, it differs from purring which is a continuous sound produced during the inhale and exhale respiratory cycles.  In fact, all cat vocalizations (except purring) appear to be only produced during the exhaling portion of the respiratory cycle.  This is basically similar to humans.  Interestingly, the cheetah produces a high-pitched chirp, similar to a canary.  This ‘chirping’ is known as the ‘call’ of the cheetah.

Some feel that animals other than cats (elephants, bats, seals, chickens, gorillas, raccoons, guinea pigs, pigs, squirrels, ring-tailed lemurs, genets and civets) can and do purr. Scientists say that these vocalizations are fundamentally different from a cat’s purrs because the mechanisms that produce the purrs are different.

Information for this Article was compiled from (Robert Eklund, PhD); National Wildlife Federation (NWF); Wikipedia – Felidae; en.m. and Everyday Mysteries (Library of Congress).