Dr. Sophie Bell a Veterinary Surgeon, looks into the first myth of our Mythbusting series. Does my cat only purr when they are feeling happy and content?
Cats can purr from when they are just a few days old. It is a form of communication and helps to build the kitten-mother bond.
And for the most part, a cat that is purring is often feeling content and relaxed in its environment. However, some may purr when they are hungry, nervous, stressed, in pain or unwell.
For us, a cat’s purr can make us feel relaxed and at ease. The positive experience we get from stroking a purring cat may explain why we often believe that they are also feeling relaxed.
The truth is a purr can also be a sign they are feeling under the weather. There is research that shows cats also purr when in pain or unwell as it helps them to heal, eases their breathing, and reduces pain.
How can I understand my cat's mood?
Signs a cat is happy
- Often have a high-pitched meow
- Keeps themselves well groomed and often groom other cats in the household
- Have their tail held high. A slight twitch of the tail tip can indicate a particularly happy moment
- Sleeps with their paws tucked under
- Has their ears pointing forwards
- Has relatively small pupils unless the light is dim, they gently close their eyes with no obvious tension
- Is playful, interactive, and inquisitive
Signs a cat is unhappy or unwell
- Their meow becomes lower pitched
- Fail to groom themselves or overgroom especially if they are feeling pain. To self-soothe
- Have their tail down or wagging either fast or slow
- Have a rigid posture, their hackles (the hairs along their spine) maybe standing up
- Their ears are pointed out to the slide of flat back against their head
- Can have hugely dilated pupils and chose to tightly shut their eyes
- Often hides away
If your cat seems off colour and is purring more than usual, you should assess their body language and look for other physical changes such as a loss of appetite, a rough unkempt coat, lack of energy, difficulties with breathing, and a change in toileting habits.
If you're concerned about a cat and unsure whether it is ill, you should speak to a vet. Remember, all Bought By Many pet insurance policies offer free access to FirstVet so you can video call a vet 24/7.
Thankfully, for the most part, cats do purr when they are feeling happy. So if you are feeling stressed and have a cat, invite them up for a cuddle, it can make you feel better.
Read our other Mythbusting Articles:
- Mythbuster: A cold wet nose means my dog is healthy
- Mythbuster: There is no need to clean my pet's teeth
- Mythbuster: My dog has been vaccinated against kennel cough, which means they cannot catch it
- Mythbuster: My dog will always scratch if they have fleas
- Mythbuster: Alabama Rot is contagious from dog to dog
- Mythbuster: Owners should stop feeding a cat or dog that is vomiting or has diarrhoea