You may have heard that cats only purr for humans. Well, how true is that? As adorable of a sentiment as it is, cats do not purr for humans exclusively. Cats have been observed purring for other cats and even just for themselves.
So, if purring is such a common behavior, when do cats learn to do it, and why do they do it? Are there different purrs? This article goes over the answers to all of these questions, so keep reading if you are curious to learn more.
When Do Cats Learn to Purr?
Cats usually learn to purr from a very young age, when they are still kittens. It is generally agreed upon that around three weeks of age, kittens will begin to purr. This is interpreted as the kittens learning to ask their mother for milk.
Why Do Cats Purr?
After the kitten stage, why do cats continue to purr? Well, there are many reasons a cat might purr. Happiness is a commonly known reason that a cat may purr. A good way to tell if your cat is purring due to happiness is to pay attention to their body language. If they look comfortable, calm, or even sleepy, there is a good chance that your cat is content.
Hunger is another reason your cat may be purring. If it is getting close to mealtime and your cat won’t stop purring, chances are it is trying to convince you to feed it early!
Surprisingly, pain may cause your cat’s purr. If your cat has been hurt, it may be purring to soothe itself. Research even suggests that the act of purring helps cats to heal faster. It is believed that the vibrations caused by the purring can heal wounds, relax breathing rates, and lessen swelling.
Are There Different Types of Purrs?
Cats purr for plenty of reasons. But do cats have different purrs? Research suggests that they do! Depending on what your cat is trying to communicate (happiness, hunger, pain, or something else), its purring may sound different.
Cat owners have reported that the content purrs they hear sound different than the hungry purrs. When a cat is purring due to hunger, there is a high-pitched cry amidst the normally low-vibration purr. Some people say that the cry almost mimics the sound of a human infant crying for attention.
As more research is being conducted on communication in purring, more pet experts realize there is much more to learn on the topic.
Are Some Cat Behaviors Exclusive to Humans?
Despite some myths you may have heard, purring is not exclusive to cats. But are there any cat behaviors that are just for humans? The answer is yes. Meowing is a behavior that is specific to humans.
Although cats are known to meow to their mothers when they are kittens, there are no known instances of adult cats meowing to each other to communicate. However, domestic cats will often continue to meow to communicate with their humans.
Cats will meow to get your attention, greet you, ask for food, or to ask to be let in or out of the house. Essentially, cats use meowing as a tool to communicate with their humans. How cute!
Although cats do not purr just for humans, that does not mean there are no human-specific behaviors that cats display. Meowing is a behavior specific to humans, and cats often use it to communicate with their people, but they also use body language to express themselves. It is essential to pay attention to your cat’s purring to determine if they are trying to communicate with you. They may be trying to tell you that they are hungry or in pain, or they may want to tell you that they love you.
Featured Image Credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky, Shutterstock