One of the best things about cats seems to be that beautiful hum they make when enjoying a rub or snuggle. While it would seem that all cats are capable of purring, do all cats actually purr?
What is a Purr?
Let’s start with the basics! A purr is essentially a vocalization of pleasure, like a smile. When a cat purrs, they are letting it be known they are enjoying what is going on. In most cases, the purr begins at an early stage in life for a kitten when suckling milk from their mother. In rare cases, a purr can also signify fear or distress in a cat. This is usually unaccompanied by a puffed tail and uneasy posture. This kind of uncommon reaction is thought to be similar to a human’s “nervous laughter”.
Do All Cats Purr?
When it comes to house cats, the answer is no. Because purring is a learned vocalization of cats, not all of them will learn this. This is more commonly seen in feral cats than “domesticated” house cats. There are many reasons believed as to why this happens but the most common is that the mother of the kittens didn’t purr so the kittens never learned this vocalization behavior. Some kittens will not begin to purr till they are more mature as well so if you have a kitten who doesn’t seem to purr, give it time!
What if my cat doesn’t purr!?
Many people who find themselves with a cat that seemingly doesn’t purr find, with closer observation, they are indeed purring. The purr itself is very muted or only making a vibration. You can check for vibrations on your cat’s chest or by lightly placing your hand over the base of the throat. If your cat has never purred, this is no cause for concern. If this is a new behavior and your cat has suddenly stopped purring, this should be something your Vet knows about to rule out any possible emotional or health issues.
Can I train my cat to purr?
If you have a younger cat who isn’t purring, you can try a few things to encourage it. You can play the sound for them of other cats purring by putting on a video. There are many that can be found on YouTube. This may or may not work, it depends on your individual cat and it will take time. Another option is to introduce them to a cat who does purr. Both cats will have to be welcoming, if one or both cats do not enjoy the company of each other, it will only stress them out.