The Mystery of Purrs: Why Do Cats Purr When You Stroke Them

Some cats are very vocal about how much they love being petted. They may meow, purr or even give you a head-butt to let you know that they want some attention. But why do cats purr when you stroke them?

There are many theories as to what causes this behavior in felines but the most popular one is that it’s an expression of pleasure and contentment. Do you know your cats might purr if they are in distress, in pain, or hungry? 

In this article, we will explain why cats purr, and other things related to purrs!

Why do cats purr when you stroke them?

Cats purr for a number of reasons. It is thought that purring may be a way for cats to show their happiness and relaxation. It is also possible that purring helps kittens and their mothers bond, so they can stay close while the adult cats hunt.

Purring may even help them self-heal: it has been suggested that cat bones grow stronger after being exposed to low frequencies such as those made during purring.

So why do they purr when you stroke or pet them? If they are not sick or anxious, then I would say they really enjoy the strokes and find it relaxing. They are in a happy place when you stroke them.

Here are 6 reasons why cats purr:

1. They’re happy and relaxed

For our cats, Hooli and Pidan, they usually purr when they are being stroked or are anticipating to be stroked, and we know that it is because they are happy and relaxed.

This is the most common reason why cats purr, as a sign of affection! If your cats are not showing signs of distress, pain, or hunger, then it is likely that they are purring because they enjoy it and are trying to bond with you.

Your cats may love being petted so much that they are purring because of it.

They want to comfort you when they are feeling anxious

Another form of why do cats purr is that they may be trying to self-soothe or even soothe their humans, especially if the human has some anxiety. Sometimes your cat might not know what else to do in certain situations and

Other signs of cats in a good mood include swiping their tails in slow motion, rubbing against you, and being vocal.

2. Bonding between mothers and kittens

Why Do Cats Purr When You Stroke Them

Mother cats purr when they are nursing their kittens, and most kittens quickly learn to mimic this sound.

Kittens are born deaf and blind, but they feel for vibrations from their mothers as the first form of communication. They purr when just a few days old to form a connection with their mother.

3. It’s a sign of distress

Purring can be a sign of distress. Cats do that to calm themselves, as a self-soothe mechanism. This is why it’s important to know why do cats purr.

If your cat does not look or act relaxed, then they might be suffering from some anxiety and if you are stroking them for too long, then this could make the situation worse.

If you see some warning signs when you are petting them, then stop and instead, give them some treats or play with a toy to distract and comfort them. Otherwise, give them some alone time and find out the reason why they are being stressed.

4. They are self-healing

Studies have shown that purrs vibrate at low frequencies between 25 to 150 HZ. These healing vibrations may help relieve pain, stress, and anxiety in cats as well humans.

Frequencies at these levels can also stimulate muscles and bone healing.

This is why cats purr, to heal themselves! Cats are well-known for their powerful healing abilities both physically and psychologically. So it might be that the low frequencies help them recover faster from surgery or after an injury.

5. They’re overstimulated

When petting your furry friend, it is important to be gentle and slow. Cats are sensitive creatures that can quickly become overstimulated with touching; this could make purring louder than usual or cause considerable distress for them as well!

If you notice your feline friend becoming irritated from constant affectionate contact then please stop immediately because too much stroking will only serve annoyance on both ends

6. They are hungry or want something from you

Why Do Cats Purr When You Stroke Them

When their purrs are sharper than a normal purr (almost like a baby crying), your cats might be trying to get your attention. Most of the time, they are hungry and want food.

Dr. Annie Valuska, PhD explains that cats use the solicitation purr (or hungry purr) to get humans to feed them- it’s loud and high pitched with an urgent tone of voice for food!

One study found that their purr frequency can go up to 220 to 520 Hz because of how close the 300-600Hz human infant cry is in comparison, making them hard for cat owners to ignore!

What is the best way to stroke a cat

Cats enjoy being stroked at their cheeks, the base on the ears, and under the chin. These areas contain facial glands that produce scents, so cats probably feel nice to be stimulated when you rubbed them.

Personally, I have a good experience rubbing cats on their nose, between the eyes. They seem to all enjoy it.

Here’s what you should do if you are trying to stroke a new cat:

  1. Approach the cat slowly

  2. Be patient and let them approach you

  3. When they approach, stroke their head for 3-5 seconds and see their reaction

  4. If they show no sign of stress, continue doing it but do not stroke for too long

Why does my cat purr when petted

Cats purr when they are happy and relaxed. They also purr when distressed, in pain, or hungry. If you don’t observe any sign of distress, they are most likely feeling safe and relaxed and enjoy being petted by you.

What does it mean when a cat purrs when you stroke it

Cats purr when they are happy and contented. This can be a sign that you have been rubbing the right spot on their back for some time, or if it is just an impulse reaction from being stroked by you.

However, cats also purr when they are in distress. If you think your cat is purring because they are distressed, get them to the vet immediately.

What effects do cat purrs have on humans

Cats have a natural way of relaxing with their purring. Studies show that low-frequency vibrations in the range 25 to 150 HZ may help relieve pain, stress, and anxiety for both humans or cats alike!

In addition to this, cat purrs may also help to speed up the healing process for humans. It has been suggested that the frequencies contained in a cat’s purr may help to heal bone tissue and also promote healing after surgery.

Here’s a video to ‘heal’ your bad day (if you are having one). It’s super relaxing!


It’s no wonder why cats purr when stroked- they’re feeling loved, contented, and safe. However, if you’ve noticed that your cat is purring but seems distressed or in pain, take him/her to the vet immediately!

There are a ton of things to learn about cat behavior and body language. If you do not want to miss out on any of the latest articles, why not subscribe to our newsletter below!

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