My Cat Doesn’t Purr. Is That Strange?

There are several reasons why your cat might not purr. In order to understand why your cat doesn’t purr, you first need to understand the mechanism and physiology of purring.

Purring physiology

While we’re still not 100% sure how the cat purr is produced, there is the widely held opinion that the vibration of a cat’s vocal cords causes purring when they inhale and exhale.
Assuming either of these physiological reasons is correct, it’s possible that your cat is otherwise perfectly healthy, but has a deficit in their vocal cords or respiratory system that means they don’t produce a purring sound.
It’s also interesting to note that cats that roar – lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars – can’t purr. This is because the structures surrounding these cats’ larynxes aren’t stiff enough to enable the production of a purring sound.

Why do cats purr?

Far from only showing contentment and affection, there are numerous functions of your cat’s purr:
  • domestic cats purr at a frequency of 25 to 150 vibrations per second. It has also been found that sound frequency in this range is therapeutic for bone growth, pain relief, and wound healing. So, cats may purr to heal themselves
  • newborn kittens are both blind and deaf so rely on the vibrations of their mother’s purr to guide them toward her milk
  • while cats do purr when they’re contented, they also purr when they’re in pain or under stress. It’s thought that purring may release endorphins to help pacify themselves during these times
  • there is some research to suggest that cats have developed a ‘soliciting purr’ to seek attention from their owners

Benefits of cats’ purrs

The frequency of a cat’s purr has been proven to help cat owners recover from various ailments. In fact, cats are often used as therapy animals for individuals in the hospital. Some people believe a cat’s purr may be attributed to:
  • lowering stress and blood pressure
  • decreasing the healing time of human bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • helping the recovery of infection and swelling
  • decreasing the risk of heart attack (it’s still contentious whether this is due to the cat’s purr specifically, or is a benefit of having a pet more generally)
If you’re concerned about your cat’s behaviour or health, visit your Greencross Vets.
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