What Makes a Cat Purr?

It’s long been a misconception that a purring cat is, unequivocally, a happy cat. It’s generally a fairly safe assumption to make (they do purr when content), but it narrows down the scope of a purr.

If we assume it’s just a way for your cat to tell you that it’s happy, then it should be easy to make them purr whenever we want.

But it isn’t.

That’s because purring denotes a whole host of different thoughts, emotions and feelings for your furry friend – which makes it intrinsically difficult to force. Sometimes they may purr out of anxiety, or pain; other times it may be simply to communicate.

Luckily, with our list of methods, you’ll have a better chance of making your own loved cat purr and perhaps be able to turn the more nervous or anxious purrs into something a little bit happier!

Why bother?

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For those unfamiliar with the versatility of the common cat purr, it might seem peculiar. Why would you want to make your cat purr, rather than just waiting for nature to take its course?

Aside from simply enjoying the feeling of a rumbling kitty, purring also comes with a great range of healing benefits. This entails everything from improving breathing regulation to increased bone strength, from lower blood pressure to improved mental state of mind.

To have that kind of comfort on tap is the daydream of many a cat owner (and by that, I mean the nightly dream of cat obsessives – you know who you are).

So, how do you make a cat purr? It’s all about knowing what makes a cat purr and then doing it…

Give them space

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The easiest way to set the scene for your cat’s purring is to give them the space and freedom to explore your home and choose their own environment. The less strict you are with your cat, then the more relaxed he or she will be around you and in your space.

Granted, this often means that you need to sacrifice your pillow, lap, perfectly orchestrated living room seat or desk – but it’ll be worth it when your cat settles into the space and begins that beautiful purr.

Soothe your cat

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Whilst they are in a warm, comfortable space of their choosing, then it’s time to get close to them. This applies to both the physical and the more flowery feline emotional aspect of ‘close’.

If the cat is feeling safe and secure, then approaching it and stroking it gently will not upset its mood. By being softly physical with your fur ball, whilst it’s all snuggled up, you’ll bring the two of you closer and into a tighter bond, which will help to promote that loving purr whenever you cuddle up with him or her.

Bonus points for talking in a quiet, soothing voice when in the vicinity, too, as cats detest loud or uncommon noises… Despite making careers out of terrifying night time noises, themselves.

Spoil it from time to time

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Cats are just like little children… and also adults, insomuch as they love to be spoiled. Now, spoiling your loveable fur machine is another one of the many delicate balancing acts that exist in the world of feline ownership.

Give them too many treats and they’ll start to expect them all the time and grow unruly when you don’t give it to them.

However, if you don’t treat them enough, they may begin to feel distant from you.

The art of spoiling a cat is to give it a special little food treat, new toy or a long play session, but doing so when it’s already comfortable and happy. This will solidify the bond between you and turn a regular, happy lazy Saturday into something extra special… Commence purring!

Make the most of all opportunities!

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Sometimes you just need to sit back and wait for the weather to change – you can’t always make your cat purr on command. The next best thing is to be prepared for it when it happens, and when it does… pounce!

Figuratively, not physically, or else you’ll lose an eye.

Wait for those purrs of attention, or comfort and then give him/her your full focus; play, rub, pat, stroke, cuddle, feed – make the most of the opportunity.

Kitty pressure points

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It’s easy to say ‘stroke’ or ‘scratch’ your cat and leave it as a general instruction, but if there’s one thing that experience and frustration have melded together to teach us, it’s that cats are incredibly picky.

When you go in for that rub or scratch, choose your cat’s favored spots. Now, all cats are different, but there are some rules of thumb that can be applied across the board until you know your own particular feline’s personality.

If they rub their head against you, then they’ll love a nice, gentle rub on the old noggin’ and perhaps a scratch around the ears.

If your cat raises its head up, exposing its more vulnerable throat and underjaw area – then it’s time to scratch its little cat-beard. This also applies to the tail – a raised tail may be a heavy hint that your cat wants its backside scratched. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

If your cat frequently turns into a pancake and starfishes on its back, then you’re being given the ultimate invitation: to scratch and rub at its belly (one of a cat’s most vulnerable spots).

Differentiating depending on your cat’s mood or desire will mean that your little gestures of closeness will always hit ‘the spot’. From that point onwards, simply sit back and wait for those purrs to roll in.

Don’t chase them! Respect their space

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Look, you might not want to hear this, but your cat’s been in touch with me. He asked me to tell you, on behalf of him, that he doesn’t always want to spend time with you. Sometimes he gets tired of the cuddles and the purring. He just needs some ‘cat’ time.

This is a key element for ensuring later purring and closeness between you and your cat. Think of it like an investment in the future.

No matter how much your cat loves that belly rub right now, and no matter how loud the purring is, it’ll eventually grow old and he’ll decide to walk away. Don’t chase after him! Let him go and wait for him to return to you later, when he’s ready for another cuddle.

Harassing your cat when it’s not in the mood is guaranteed to sour the relationship a little and put the kibosh on any immediate purring. Ever tried to hug your significant other straight after an argument? It’s useless.

Get to know it

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The best way to make your cat purr is to study it. Don’t just assume that it’s cut from the same cloth as your friend’s cat, because it isn’t.

Every cat has its own unique, and utterly bonkers, personality and the sooner you get to know it the sooner you’ll be able to recognise the signs and desires well enough to make it purr by doing specific things.

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