Does a Purring Cat Mean a Happy Cat?

December 5, 2017

We all love to hear the sound of our cats purring.

Not only is it a soothing and relaxing sound for us but it also tells us that our cat is happy – or does it?

Most people associate the sound of a purring cat with a happy cat. However, this is not always the case. Cats actually purr for a variety of different reasons so we should never assume that a purring cat is a happy one.

Of course, purring is a common way for cats to show contentment but it is an emotional response as opposed to a happy one. They do purr to show that they are happy and content but they also purr to show other emotions as well. 

Many people are under the impression that purring equates to happiness in cats – this includes many cat owners and cat lovers as well as other people. While this is often the reason behind purring, cats can purr to show all sorts of emotions and it is important for cat owners to bear this in mind.

Is your cat looking and feeling well?

You can generally tell quite easily if a cat is purring and content. They have a certain look about them; they bump their head against you, rub against your leg, and act happy and content. If they are purring while they do this, the chances are they are showing that they are happy, content, and comfortable.

However, when a cat is feeling stressed, ill, or there is another issue, this also often shows in their actions and their expression. If they are wide-eyes, shrinking back, not eating properly, shying away from you, or displaying other signs out the ordinary, then the purring is probably down to something else.

Cats are emotional creatures

Cats are known for a lot of things. This includes their infamous curiosity, haughtiness and aloofness, the way they carry themselves gracefully, their fierce independence, and even their snobbishness in some cases.

However, one thing that many people often don’t realize is that they are also extremely emotional creatures. You may not think this when you watch your mad hatter charging around the house at 90 miles per hour or scratching the stuffing out of your new sofa, but they do have strong emotions and purring is one of the ways in which they display these.

This is why it is important to learn the possible reasons behind purring.


What else might your kitty be trying to tell you when purring?

As mentioned earlier, more often than not when your cat purrs it is to display emotions of comfort, happiness, and security. This is something that makes us cat owners very happy, as we love to see our kitties content and comfortable.

However, it is vital to bear in mind that the purring may be down to your cat trying to tell you something else. Some of the things kitty may be trying to tell you when purring include:


I want some food!

We all know that when cats want something they expect you to provide it at the earliest opportunity – particularly when it comes to food. Cats are very switched on when it comes to their mealtime routines and when feeding time comes around they instinctively know.

Of course, if you aren’t ready and waiting for their food they need to find a way to give you a gentle – or sometimes not so gentle – reminder. 

Some cats will meow incessantly until you give in and drop everything in order to get their food to them in a timely manner. Others, however, will rub around your legs and purr if they are missing their mealtime or they feel hungry.

One thing to bear in mind is that when a cat purrs to tell you it is hungry, the purr is often accompanied by a meowing noise, which makes it different to the sound of its regular purr.

I'm fine mom!

If you have very young kittens, you may notice that they purr a lot. Experts believe that there is a valid reason behind this, which is nothing to do with contentment or hunger. They actually purr to reassure their kitty mom that they are safe and they are around.

Kittens actually start purring before they can even see, so this does start at a very young age. It is also thought that kitten purrs can help a stronger bond to develop between the mother cat and the kittens.

I don’t feel well

The final reason why some cats purr is that they are in some sort of pain or distress. Again, this is an emotion that they may display through their purring and there are a number of theories with regard to why they might do this.

Some experts believe that the reason why cats purr when they are in pain is that it helps to calm them down and they use it as a means of self-comfort. Some think that the purring creates vibrations that can speed along the healing process for the cat.

The one thing you should bear in mind is that if your cat is purring but looks unwell, is hiding away a lot (as cats often do when they are unwell), or seems distressed, a trip to the vets is highly advisable.

Making sure you observe your cat’s behavior

These are some of the key reasons behind cats purring apart from the obvious content and happy purr. It is well worth making sure you observe the behavior of your cat when purring, as this will give you more of an idea with regards to what may be behind the purr.

Fortunately, the majority of the time, it will be because they are displaying emotions of happiness and contentment or that they are simply hungry and want to be feed. However, there is that odd occasion when it could be down to something more untoward, and it is this that you need to keep your eyes peeled for.

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