Categories: Cat AnatomySounds

Cat’s Purr Facts For Kids

Some people say that the cat’s purr is still a mystery. They are not sure why a cat purrs. I am sure you have heard your cat purr. It probably happened when you were stroking your cat or a friend’s cat. It may have happened when you were close to a cat that you are friends with.

If your cat does purr when you stroke her she is saying thank you for your friendship. Purring is a sound. And when animals make sounds they are communicating with other animals. “Communicating” means telling another animal something.

Cat Purr Facts For Kids. Credits: Picture of person and cat by Adam Hodgson. Picture of cat and vet: Stockxpert. Cats curled up by yellowcloud. Cat nursing by CameliaTWU. Collage by Michael at PoC.

We know that cats purr when they are happy. In the life of a cat, the first time a cat purrs is when she is a week old newborn kitten. The kitten drinks mum’s milk and tells mum that she is fine and the milk tastes good. Mum then knows that her baby is OK. She might purr as well to tell her baby that she is happy as well.

Vets, the doctors who treat cats when they are ill, tell us that sometimes cats purr at the vets even when they are in pain.

That can mean that cats are able to deal with pain very well and still be able to purr or the purr also means that they want a friend at that time. Rather than a purr just saying thank you to another cat or person for being friends it is also a way of asking a person to be friends.

Another reason for purring is that is tells another cat that he is friendly and does not want to fight.

Cats make the purring sound in their throat. They do it by changing the way the air in their throat passes down and up in the throat so that it is not smooth. The air and the muscles in the throat vibrates.

Did you know that the big cats, the lions and tigers, also purr. It is not a true domestic cat purr. This is because the domestic cat purrs with the mouth closed and when breathing out as well as in. Tigers and lion can only make a purring sort of sound – a spluttering kind of sound – when breathing out. They make a one-way-purr.

A tiger and a lion can’t purr properly but they can make a sound that the domestic cannot: they can roar.


  1. Original picture of person and cat.
  2. Original picture of cat nursing.
  3. Original picture of cats together.
  4. Apologies: I have lost the credit for white cat at vets. I am searching.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • I am enjoying the kid series. Thanks for doing it.
    Sometimes my time-share cat makes a low gutteral sound when he thinks the dog or another ne'er-do-well cat is close by. That sound or growl seems to come from a different place in the throat than the purr. What do you think?


    • Yes, this is the wild cat showing up in the domestic cat. The low gutteral sound is quite intimidating even for a human. I don't know where in the throat it comes from, probably just the vocal cords. When you hear the various wild cat species especially the small to medium wild cat species you hear a huge range of vocalisations some of which you would not have heard before. The domestic cat has a good range but we rarely hear the entire range as their lives are usually somewhat limited.

      The purr is special as it can be made while drinking and is made through exhaling and inhaling. Whereas normal vocalisations are made while exhaling. Most sounds are made with vocal cords, as for humans.

      • Thanks Michael. I think of this fellow as a wild cat. He was domesticated as a young feral cat. He looks like a black panther with yellow eyes. You are right, that growl is quite intimidating.


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