Cats are well known for their unique vocalizations, which are often used to communicate with humans and other cats. One such vocalization is purring, which is made when cats feel contentment or happiness. It is often seen during physical contact such as petting or stroking, but why this is so is still not fully understood. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why cats purr when stroked or petted.
1. Overview of Cat Purring
Purring is one of the main sounds cats make, and cats purr when they are content. Cats usually purr when they are being pet or stroked, as a way of communicating relaxed comfort and pleasure. Purring can also be a sign of distress, but this is usually accompanied by other body posture signals.
The most common purpose for cats purring is to send a signal of emotion or contentment. Cats also purr when interacting with each other. In addition, cats purr when they are hurt or scared, or even when they are giving birth. Purring seems to act as a positive reinforcement for cats in these stressful situations.
How it works: A cat’s purr is produced by air passing through the glottis as it moves rapidly back and forth through the vocal cords, which results in a low, vibrating hum. Because purring does not require any extra effort from the cat, it will continue purring for as long as it feels relaxed. Here are the following characteristics of purring:
- It is a low, continuous, vibration
- It tends to sound pleasant to humans
- It can be soothing to cats in stressful situations and during healing
- It can be produced in the same way as in breathing and sleeping
When cats are stroked, purring can act as a response to the humans touch. However, cats can also purr in other contexts, such as when they are alone or when they are attempting to get attention from humans. As such, purring can be a signal that the cat is requesting something from the person, such as more petting or food.
2. Reasons Cats Purr When Stroked
Cats purr when stroked which may indicate that they find it pleasurable. Here are some of the reasons why cats purr when stroked.
- Sense of Security: Purring is seen as a comforting sensation for cats and is often a sign that a cat feels secure and safe. It also helps them cope with stress, fear or pain.
- Bond with Owner: A cat may purr when stroked to show affection, and to communicate with their owner. Purring can also create a strong bond between a cat and their owner as it is seen as a sign of gratitude for being given attention.
- Therapeutic Purr: A purr has a calming effect on both the cat and its owner, providing physical and psychological benefits. It has been suggested that it helps to reduce stress levels, decrease pain, and promote healing.
3. Benefits of Purring
Apart from being a sign of contentment, purring has many benefits for cats. Here are some of them.
- Reducing stress: Purring has calming effects, helping cats deal with stressful situations like vet visits or traveling.
- Maintaining bone health: Purring produces vibrations in low frequency, which might help cats build their musculoskeletal system and resist lymphoma.
- Fighting pain: Studies have found that purring might have pain-relieving properties.
- Promoting healing: Purring also increases the rate at which bones and muscles repair themselves, which is why cats purr even after a surgery.
Although the exact physiological mechanisms behind purring are still not fully understood, all the evidence indicates that purring can bring multiple benefits to cats. So, the next time your furry friend purrs, you’ll know it is their way of showing affection and gratitude for all you do.
4. Tips for Encouraging Purring in Cats
Make time for cat cuddles: Dedicate at least 15 minutes per day, preferably in the morning and evening, to pet and cuddle your cat. During this time, make sure to stroke him in the areas he enjoys. Make sure to speak to your cat in a sweet, soothing tone as you pet him.
Introduce purr-inducing toys: Offer toys that allow for interactive play with your furry friend. Toys that make sounds or mimic prey-like movement, such as feathers, strings, and plushies can help stimulate your cat and encourage purring.
Offer rewards: Rewarding your cat for purring with treats or toys is a great way to encourage him to associate purring with a positive outcome.
Be consistent: To keep the purring going, make purring part of a regular routine. Pet your cat at the same time each day or offer him treats when he purrs. You may even want to create a purring command like ‘speak’ or ‘talk’.
Know your cat’s hot spots: Every cat has different areas that they enjoy getting scratched. Most cats purr when their chin is scratched or if you run your fingers down their back. Figure out your cat’s favorite spots and make sure to give him extra attention there.
It is evident that cats purr when stroked for a multitude of reasons. Understanding why cats purr can help owners form a stronger bond with their pets. Additionally, if cats start to exhibit an unusual purring sound, it may be a sign of health concerns that may need to be addressed.