7 things you probably didn’t know about purring: they usually stop when they hear water running

Hangai Lilla

2023. July 22 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Perhaps even those who are not particularly fond of cats will agree that purring is one of the most soothing and pleasant sounds in the world. In addition, science also supports this intuition, as it turned out that this magical frequency even promotes the healing of joints and bones. And the list doesn't end here!


We have collected a bunch of facts about the cat purring so that you can enjoy the healing concert even more afterwards.

1. You’d rather feel it than hear it

Now if we asked you to imagine a kitty sitting on your lap and purring, you could almost feel it, right? Due to the low volume and pleasant vibration, we tend to feel the purr rather than hear it.

2. Purring is not just for cats – well, it is

It’s probably less surprising that big cats like the lynx or cheetah also purr, but our jaws dropped when we learned that hyenas, guinea pigs, raccoons, civet cats, and even mongooses possess this skill too. Pretty much… But the purring in their sound set differs in frequency and use. In addition, most of them only make this sound when exhaling which means it is not really a purr after all. Thus, we can say that the purring of felines is unique in the animal world.

3. Many big cats are exceptions

However, some big cats cannot purr and instead they only can roar. Examples include the lion and the tiger. Those species that do purr, such as the aforementioned lynx or the cougar, do not make battle roar. Cats have a rigid hyoid bone, while lions and tigers have a flexible hyoid bone. Researchers are still trying to figure out why there is a difference in the development of these bones, but they do know for sure that they are located in the throat and provide support for the larynx.

The king of the pampas and the striped big cat are able to make a sound similar to purring, but only half as long, because they only vibrate their vocal cords when exhaling.

4. Sometimes people smile when they are nervous

Everyone knows that cats purr when they are happy and calm. But are you aware that they also do it when they are scared, threatened or stressed? It’s like a nervous habit. We also smile sometimes when we are nervous.

You rather feel the purr than hear it.

5. If water flows, the concert is over

Cats usually stop purring when they hear the water running. Many vets turn on the faucet so that they can listen to the little patient lungs and heartbeat.

6. Even in science it is a controversial topic

Researchers don’t fully agree on exactly how cats purr. Interesting, right? Most people think it starts in the brain, which sends a signal to the laryngeal muscles, which vibrate 25 to 150 times per minute. This causes the vocal cords to separate as the cat inhales and exhales, and we call it a purr.

7. The mama cat purrs while giving birth

Although no one knows why yet. It may be a response to pain and discomfort, or perhaps a means of bonding with the kittens. It is also a common phenomenon during breastfeeding and is believed to be used to calm the kittens. They start purring in the early stages of life, when they are just a few days old.

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