To a cat lover, few sounds are more welcoming and soothing than purring. Cat purrs are known to be calming to humans, lowering stress and reducing blood pressure. But what does it mean if your cat suddenly stops purring?
While not all cats purr, if you have a cat that is accustomed to purring frequently but suddenly stops, it can be concerning. While the absence of purring is not a problem in and of itself, the fact that a cat chooses not to purr can be a sign that something is not quite right.
Read on to gain a better understanding of why cats purr, what it means, and the things that might cause your cat to stop purring. We’ve put together a list of the main reasons your cat may stop purring and what you can do to get them back to their happy, vibrating selves.
What Is A Cat’s Purr?
The purr is one of the many communication tools your cat has in their arsenal to communicate with others and express how they’re feeling.
But it’s actually a bit of a mystery how exactly cats produce their purr. It’s generally believed that purring is caused by a vibration of the vocal cords as they inhale and exhale, but the exact function is not well understood. It’s a complex sound that involves the brain, larynx, and diaphragm.
Fun fact! Lions can’t purr, while other big cats like tigers, pumas, and cheetahs can.
Why Do Cat’s Purr?
First of all, not all cats purr. You might adopt a kitten that just never picks up the habit of purring. It’s thought that this is more common with stray cats as their mother may have discouraged purring to prevent her young from being discovered by predators. But the truth is, no one really knows why some cats purr and others don’t.
For cats that do purr, there are many different reasons why they will. In some cases, it’s a necessary biological function. Mother cats purr to communicate with their babies. Newborn kittens are blind and deaf, so they rely on the vibrations of their mother’s purr to find her and her nourishing milk.
Since mother cats purr to communicate with their young, but both male and female cats can purr, it’s clearly also a general communication tool that cats can use in their mysterious interactions with one another.
Cats purr when they are content, as you’ll know if you have ever had a purring cat in your lap. A good scratch behind the ears will generally encourage your cat to increase the decibels of their purr. Regular purring while close to their owner is usually a good sign of a content and happy cat.
But cats also purr when they are in pain or stressed. Purring may release endorphins that can reduce stress at these challenging times. Evidence even suggests that cats may purr to heal themselves. Some studies have found that the sound frequency of a cat’s purr can be therapeutic for bone growth, pain relief, and wound healing.
Read about other fascinating cat superpowers.
With so many reasons to purr, for most cat owners, it’s pretty common to hear your cat purring regularly throughout the day, sometimes louder, sometimes softer. Therefore, it’s natural to worry if your cat suddenly stops purring.
Why Has My Cat Stopped Purring?
There are three main reasons why your cat may suddenly stop purring. But there is a lot of nuance and variation within these reasons, and the underlying reason that needs to be dealt with depends on your cat and what’s happening in their life.
Stress, Fear, Or Sulking
The first reason is an emotional response. Despite their typical aloof nature, cats are very sensitive and can respond badly to many things. They can stop purring as a signal of their displeasure or fear.
Cats are creatures of habit and don’t tend to like change. It can be challenging for them to adjust when changes are made to their living conditions. They can respond negatively to big changes, such as moving to a different house or a new animal being introduced into the home, but also small changes. They can find it stressful if you decide to move the furniture around or change the fragrance of your cleaning liquid.
Your cat may stop purring for a period of time if they’re unhappy about a change in their environment. They may just need time to get used to the changes, and then their purr will return.
Changes in their environment are not the only things that can cause stress, and a reduction in purring can be a stress response.
Many things can cause stress: a visit to the vet with a big needle, a visit by small children who don’t yet know how to handle animals, loud noises, or a new predator moving in next door. Living in dirty conditions—yes, that means a litter box that isn’t cleaned frequently enough—can also cause stress.
Look to see what you can do to remove stressors to get your cat back to their happy, purry self as quickly as possible.
As cats age, they tend to become calmer, which means less playing and more snuggling. Everything they do can become a little less energetic. As your cat ages, you may notice that their purr decreases in volume as well. This is normal.
If you still have a young cat that seems less energetic and is purring less, it could be a sign they are having issues with their energy levels. This can be a signal to ensure they’re eating a nutritious diet and to consult your vet.
Illness Or Injury
One of the biggest worries for pet parents is that their cat has stopped purring because they’re ill. It’s true: if your cat is feeling unwell or is in pain, they may stop purring in response.
However, illness and pain are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, fever, or pain when moving. These signs will probably be of greater concern than your cat’s reduction in vocalization.
In rare cases, reduced purring could result from a vocal cord injury. This injury could be from a physical incident, or it could be the result of an illness such as an infection, laryngitis, or cancer. When this is the case, you may be able to see evidence of swelling or injury, and you should contact your vet.
There is a myth that cats stop purring when they are close to dying. There is some truth to this because your cat will likely feel unwell, which may see them stop purring. But there is no specific link between cats not purring and the end of life.
Cat Purring FAQs
How do I get my cat to purr again?
Once you’ve eliminated problems that may have caused your cat to stop purring in the first place, lots of love and affection can generally get them purring again. Cuddles, stroking, and soft talking can all encourage your cat to start purring. Read these secrets for bonding with your cat.
Do cats ever get tired of purring?
Purring doesn’t use much energy, so your cat is never likely to get tired of it, but they may suddenly stop. If they just want to go to sleep or don’t want to play anymore, they may stop purring as a signal of what they want.
Why can’t I hear my cat purring, but I can feel it?
Some cats have very quiet purrs, so the physical vibration may be more noticeable than the sound. This is normal for some cats. You should only be worried if this is abnormal behavior for your cat. Changes in behavior can always be a sign that something is not quite right.
Get Your Cat Purring Again
If your cat is a purrer and suddenly stops, you’ll want to see what you can do to get them purring again. This mainly means checking in on their health and then checking in on their environment to ensure they’re contented and have everything they need and that they aren’t plagued by undue stressors.
Once you have done that, you can go the extra mile to get your pet purring again. Spoil them with lots of attention, cuddles, and maybe even a tasty treat. They will probably be vibrating contentment again in no time.
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