Ocelots don’t purr in my opinion, having researched the subject. They do create a sound that could be described as a purr-growl under circumstances which might induce a domestic cat to purr. It is a harsh sound. This does not mean that the growl-purr is the ocelot’s version of the purr. It almost certainly is not. In fact, in the video below, the woman explains it as a mating call. I am not sure that she is correct.
Small wild cats do make relatively harsh and seemingly aggressive sounds. They are distinctly different to the sounds made by domestic cats. A reminder that they don’t make good pets.
The best authority1 on wild cats states:
“The ocelot also has a number of friendly close-range vocalisations, including a long drawn-out yowling call given while matting.”
There is no direct reference in that extract to an ocelot purr. Although there is a hint at it. It is probable that in the wild at the date of the book I am refering to (2002) no one had researched ocelot vocalisations sufficiently to state with certainty that the ocelot could purr.
Below is an audio of an ocelot making something akin to a purr although much harsher:-
There are a couple of videos on YouTube. The cats seem content and they are in circumstances where they could purr. In both videos the cats makes an aggressive sounding purr-growl. In fact it is 70% growl and 30% purr (at best)!
The woman in this video is irritating. She overhandles the cat. This is a tame ocelot. He does not purr even though he is happy to be interacting with the woman.
As stated at the beginning, I’d say that ocelots can’t purr. The only website that states that ocelots can purr is therainforestsite.com. However, they do not support their confident statement with a reliable authority.
1. Wild Cats of the World page 123.