What Is Your Purring Moggy Really Trying To Tell You?
Source: Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery
The soothing vibrations of a cat's purr reassure owners that their pet is happy and content - not to mention being incredibly calming.
But now experts have revealed that it's not always the sign of a happy feline, as cats will also purr when they're distressed or in pain.
This could explain why so many cats purr in uncomfortable situations like a visit to the vets, but how can you tell when your pet is unhappy or distressed?
According to a report from Pets4Homes, a cat that's purring for a reason other than pleasure will look uncomfortable, and may be sitting hunched up in an awkward manner.
They may also appear like they are attempting to hide or make themselves appear smaller than normal.
Some people call this behaviour 'inappropriate purring', but others dispute the use of the term, saying purring for a reason other than pleasure is entirely natural.
According to Pets4Homes cats that are stressed, sick or otherwise unhappy purr to block outside sounds.
And Dr. Francine Rattner, from South Arundel Veterinary Hospital, US, said the noise can also be an appeal for help or a means to release pain-soothing endorphins.
"Think of a purr similar to a smile," she wrote on capitalgazette.com.
"People smile when they are happy but also may smile when they are nervous or feel threatened."
Cats produce the sound of a purr by passing air over the vocal folds of the larynx (voice box) causing vibration of the air upon inhalation and exhalation.
The exact sound produced is unique to each animal, as it the types of situations that they chose to purr.
Female cats will also sometimes purr while giving birth to a litter, which can help to keep the kittens - which are born blind - calm.
It is important to note that cats purr for pleasure far more than they do for any other reason, so unless you feel your cat is unwell there is no need to get worried about it.
If you have any concerns, it is usually the best idea to go and speak to the vet.
How to reduce stress in cats...
Purring is usually a sign cats are happy. However, it can sometimes indicate they are stressed or in discomfort.
Unsurprisingly, in these situations vets recommend removing whatever is causing the stress in the first place.
Even something as simple as introducing a new piece of furniture into a room can upset the delicate constitution of a cat.
Cats can be stressed by other new arrivals, such as babies. In these cases, it is best to slowly introduce the animal to smell, sound and sight of the infant.
Experts also recommend keeping a kitten's littertray, resting area and food bowl separate from each other, as the animals prefer them to be separate.