Why Do Cats Purr So Loud?

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Medically reviewed by Maureen Kanana, DVM
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Cats purr for various reasons, but the most probable ones include an expression of happiness, seeking your attention, or a desire to be petted. Other loud purrs can indicate stress, anxiety, or efforts to heal from pain.

When I first got my two cats, one of them was purring so loudly. The cat would sit with me and play with my fingers as I type without giving it attention. But it would purr so loud until it falls asleep or leaves.

The other one was different. It didn’t purr a lot and would only purr when it was around me, or someone sat down with it and petted it.

I tried to figure out the contrast between my two kitties by consulting my vet and asking fellow cat owners about the behavior. I discovered some interesting facts.

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Reasons Why Cats Purr So Loud

If you’re a cat owner, you are familiar with the soothing rhythmic murmur of your cat’s purr when it nestles on your lap for a cuddle or as it naps in the afternoon sun.

While most people associate cat purring with contentment, your kitty can purr for several reasons. 

Here are nine reasons why cats purr so loud.

1. Contentment: Your Cat Is Relaxed and Happy

Purring is mostly a kitty’s way of expressing happiness. When the purring is so loud, your cat shows even more contentment.

The content loud purr is likely to happen when your kitty is sitting on your lap or while you’re stroking it.

Signs To Affirm That Your Cat Is Purring in Contentment

When your cat is purring to express happiness and contentment, you’ll likely see other body language, such as:

  • Relaxed body posture
  • Kneading
  • Half-closed eyes
  • Slow blinking

2. It Might Be a Way To Manage Pain if Your Cat Is Injured or in Labor

Contrary to popular belief, purring isn’t only a display of your cat’s happiness. The behavior also serves as a coping mechanism in painful situations, like when injured or in labor.

The loud purrs might be self-soothing when in pain. 

The vibration your cat creates by purring can calm its body, releasing endorphins that act as natural painkillers. That way, your cat can cope with discomfort and manage pain.

According to a recent study, the vibrations cats produce during purring can promote the healing of bones and tissue, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain. Your kitty can instinctively purr to facilitate the healing process when injured to expedite its recovery.

During labor, the purring can help relieve pain and serve as a form of communication. A girl cat purrs to communicate with her kitten, creating a comforting environment for her newborn. Kittens are born blind and deaf, and the vibrations from their mother’s purring can help them navigate toward her for nursing and warmth. Communication with kittens through purring reduces stress for both the mother and the kittens during birth.

Signs That Your Cat is Purring To Manage Pain

If your cat is purring to cope with pain, you’ll likely observe:

  • Different purring sound — it’s softer, sporadic, and accompanied by vocalization
  • Purring in shorter bursts and with a slightly higher pitch than the contentment purr
  • Distress body language such as hunching over, avoiding specific movements, or not wanting to be touched
  • Decreased appetite or activity
  • Withdrawal and isolation from social interactions
  • Overgrooming or not grooming at all
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Avoiding certain resting position
  • Limping 

Pro Tip: If your cat is showing other signs of pain, such as limping, not eating, or not moving as much, you’ll want to speak with your vet.

3. A Friendly Gesture When Entering Another Cat’s Territory

When a cat enters another cat’s territory and starts purring loudly, it might be relaying a non-threatening communication. A loud purr in a new territory can signal other cats that your cat isn’t a threat.

The purr says, “I come in peace, and I mean no harm.”

Your kitty might also purr loudly in a new territory to seek acceptance from other cats. By purring, your cat communicates its desire to be part of the social group within the territory. Other cats might respond with their purring or other friendly gestures, indicating acceptance.

Besides, cats often purr when they are in the company of other cats they are familiar with. If a cat enters another cat’s territory and starts purring loudly, it could be an attempt to establish a social bond. The purring signals friendly intentions.

Similarly, the loud purr might be your cat’s way of trying to reduce tension in a new environment. Purring creates a more relaxed atmosphere, making navigating the new territory easier for your kitty without triggering aggression from resident cats.

Other Signs That Your Cat’s Loud Purr is A Friendly Gesture When Entering A New Territory

Here are other signs that your cat’s loud purring indicates a friendly approach when entering another cat’s territory:

  • Relaxed and friendly body posture such as a slightly lowered body, upright tail, and non-aggressive facial expression
  • Slow blinking to communicate friendliness and establish a positive connection
  • Slowly approaching without sudden movements
  • Positioning the tail upright, with a slight curve at the end
  • No hissing or growling to avoid confrontations with others in the new territory
  • Socialization attempts like headbutting, sniffing, or grooming the cats in the new territory

4. The Cat Is Seeking Your Attention

Purring can also be your cat’s way of seeking something from you. Purring as a means to seek your attention tends to be higher pitched and more urgent sounding when compared to other types of purring.

Researchers say you’re more likely to respond to the urgent purring. Your cat is likely to purr loudly for attention when:

  • Hungry
  • Thirsty
  • It needs to use the litter box
  • Looking for affection (petting, cuddling, or interactive play)
  • Seeking comfort and security
  • It requires grooming assistance, especially in hard-to-reach areas
  • Searching for medical attention

Signs That Your Cat is Purring Loudly to Seek Your Attention

When a cat tries to communicate its desire for attention, its purring might be accompanied by:

  • Persistent purring while following you around the house or approaching you
  • Rubbing against you, head-butting you, or gently patting you with paws while purring
  • Meowing
  • Nudging and pawing
  • Playful behavior such as bringing your a toy to initiate play
  • Interrupting your activities, such as sitting on your laptop or book or blocking your pathway
  • Establishing eye contact to convey its desire
  • Climbing on your lap, shoulder, or any elevated surface close to you

5. Your Kitty Is Afraid or Stressed

While nearly everyone associates cat purring with happiness, your kitty might also purr when stressed or anxious. 

When your cat is afraid or stressed, the purring can be a way to self-soothe itself to calm down. Purring releases endorphins that help your cat relax in a stressful situation. It’s a natural way to cope with fear and anxiety.

You’ll likely note your cat purring in fear or stress because of:

  • Physical discomfort 
  • Social stress due to an environmental change
  • Introduction of new animals or unfamiliar people
  • Loud environment
  • Medical problems
  • Nervousness, stress, anxiety or uncertainty about a situation

Signs That Your Cat Is Purring Because Of Fear or Stress

You should pay attention to your cat’s overall behaviors and body language to determine whether your cat is purring indicates fear or stress. Such purring is accompanied by:

  • Hiding
  • Avoiding interaction
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive grooming
  • fast wagging of the tail
  • Appetite loss
  • Aggressive behaviors like hissing or swatting
  • Tense body posture, with muscles tense and hunched body to make the cat appear smaller
  • Litter box problems

6. The Cat Is Growing: It’s No Longer a Kitten

Cats, like humans, go through various stages of development and behavior change as they grow. Kittens start purring after a few days of birth to communicate with their mother and litter mate.

However, kittens’ vocal cords aren’t fully developed, and their purrs sound much softer and higher pitched. As the cat grows, it develops a space within its vocals to create a louder, more audible purr.

Besides, cats learn to control their purring as they grow. Young kittens might not have fully developed their purring mechanisms, so their purrs can sometimes be softer or less consistent. As they age and gain more control over their vocalizations, their purring might become more pronounced and louder. 

Sign That Your Cat Is Purring Because It’s No Longer a Kitten

Here are some signs or contexts that might indicate your cat is purring as it transitions from kittenhood to adulthood:

  • More confident purrs
  • Other refined communication skills like chirping, meowing, and other vocalization
  • Independence from the mother
  • Decreased playfulness

7. Your Feline Wants to Soothe Other Cats Around It

The rhythmic vibration a kitty produces during purring can calm other cats around. The sensation of purring can create a sense of security and relaxation, helping soothe other anxious or stressed cats.

The phenomenon is mostly common in mother cats and their kittens. Kittens associate the sound of their mother’s purring with comfort and security. Mother cats often purr when nursing their kittens, creating a calming environment. 

Adult cats might continue to use purring to provide comfort and reassurance to other cats, replicating the nurturing atmosphere they experienced during kittenhood.

Besides, cats within the same social group use purring to reinforce their social connections. Your cat’s loud purring within the group can indicate contentment, which, in turn, helps establish a harmonious social environment. When other cats hear your kitty purring, it can reassure them that the immediate environment is safe and friendly, leading to a calming effect.

Cats can also use loud purring to resolve disputes within a group. When a cat purrs loudly, it might communicate submission and a lack of aggression, helping to diffuse tense situations and encourage peaceful co-existence.

Signs That Your Cat is Purring To Soothe Cats Around It

When your cat purrs to soothe other kitties around it, it can:

  • Approach other cats and engage in physical contact such as grooming, nuzzling, or cuddling to provide security and comfort.
  • Assume a relaxed body language with soft, slow movement and a loosely curled tail. The eyes might also be half-closed.
  • Meow, chirp, or trill when interacting with other cats
  • Exchange scents by rubbing against each other 
  • Show inviting behavior such as lying down relaxed, exposing its belly, or gently pawing the other cats.
  • Maintain a non-aggressive posture and avoid behaviors such as hissing or growling

8. It’s A Way To Greet Other Cats – Especially in a Multicat Household

When a cat purrs loudly to greet other cats, it’s usually a sign of social interaction and communication within the feline community. 

Your cat can greet other kitties with a loud purring to:

  • Social Bond: Cats use purring as a way to strengthen social bonds. When your cat greets other cats with a loud purr, it communicates that it is content and relaxed in their presence. The greetings signal that your kitty is part of the social group.
  • Communicate receptiveness: Loud purring is non-threatening. Such greetings tell other cats that your cat is approachable and not a threat. The purr prevents conflicts and promotes peaceful coexistence among the feline group.
  • Invite other cats for interaction: Cats may purr loudly as an invitation for other cats to interact. The purring cat signals that the feline is in a good mood and receptive to social interactions. Other cats might respond with their purring or other friendly vocalizations for positive social exchanges.
  • Facilitate social hierarchy: Cats living in groups often establish social hierarchies. A dominant cat might use loud purring to signal its authority and establish its position within the group. Other cats might respond with softer purring, indicating their acknowledgment of the dominant cat’s status.

Signs That Your Cat’s Loud Purrings Are Greetings to Other Cats

When your cat uses loud purring as a form of greeting to other cats, you’re likely to observe:

  • Approachable body language to signal to other cats that your cat is in a friendly mood
  • Mutual grooming
  • Head butting or rubbing against each other to exchange scents
  • Playful behavior with other cats
  • Sharing resting spaces to show trust and camaraderie.
  • Slow blinking
  • Vocal interactions, such as exchanging friendly meows and chirps 
  • Allowing another cat to approach, sniff, or investigate without showing signs of aggression
  • A relaxed, upright tail or a tail wrapped around another cat in the group indicates friendship and camaraderie
  • Relaxed facial features, including half-closed eyes and a slightly open mouth, indicate contentment and friendliness.

9. The Kitty Might Be Suffering From a Respiratory Infection

A loud, labored purring can be a sign of respiratory issues. Such as:

  1. Feline Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
  2. Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR)
  3. Feline Calicivirus (FCV) Infection
  4. Chlamydophila Felis Infection
  5. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
  6. Bordetella bronchiseptica Infection
  7. Pneumonia

These disorders can contribute to a loud labored purring because of the following:

  • Nasal congestion: Cats with respiratory infections often experience nasal congestion, making it difficult to breathe through their nose. The congestion might force your kitty to breathe through its mouth, creating a loud sound during purring.

Besides, the effort to breathe through the congested nasal passages can cause the purring to sound labored.

  • Breathing difficulties: Respiratory issues can make breathing difficult for your cat because of nasal discharge, inflammation, accumulation of mucus and congestion in the respiratory tract.

Labored breathing can affect the sound of the purring, making it louder and more noticeable.

  • Discomfort and stress: Cats with respiratory issues can be uncomfortable due to symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and congestion. The discomfort can trigger stress, resulting in more frequent and louder purring, sometimes accompanied by other vocalizations indicating distress.
  • Fever: Respiratory issues usually lead to fever. Elevated body temperature can cause discomfort and increased respiratory effort, contributing to labored breathing and loud purring.

Your cat might also purr as a coping mechanism for the fever.

  • Throat irritation: Respiratory problems affecting cats’ throats can irritate the thought. The irritation might trigger your cat to purr frequently to soothe its irritated throat. Your cat’s gentle vibration during purring might provide comfort and relief.

Signs That Your Cat’s Loud Purrs is A Sign Of Respiratory Problem

If you suspect your cat’s loud purrs are a sign of a respiratory problem, check out for other symptoms like:

  • Labored breathing, your cat’s chest movement might appear exaggerated or strained
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Lethargy and reduced activity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Discoloration of gums or tongue
  • Sneezing
  • Unusual noise while breathing
  • Inappetence

Is Loud Purring Normal?

Loud purrs are normal in cats. Cats vary widely in their purring habits. Some are naturally louder than others. The volume and intensity of your cat depend on:

  • Cat’s breed: Different cat breeds have varying vocalization tendencies. Some breeds are naturally more vocal than others. For example, Siamese cats are known for loud and frequent vocalizations, including purring.
  • Strength of vocal muscle: Cats with strong vocal muscles can create louder purring sounds. Such cats can make their purrs more resonant and audible. Strong muscles allow for more forceful vibrations, resulting in a louder purr. On the other hand, cats with weaker vocal muscles might produce softer purrs.
  • Emotional state: The cat’s emotional state can influence the volume and intensity of their purring. Cats may purr more loudly when they are seeking comfort or attention.
  • The message the cat tries to communicate: Your cat is more likely to purr when communicating its needs, such as hunger, thirst, or a desire for attention.
  • Health: Cats may purr more loudly in pain or discomfort. Pain-related purring can be a way for the cat to self-soothe, which might sound different from their usual purr.
  • Age: Kittens and older cats might have different purring patterns. Kittens might purr loudly when nursing or seeking comfort, while older cats might develop unique purring habits as they age.

Your cat can start purring loudly the second they see you, or they may start to purr once you pet them. If your cat is purring loudly amid petting, it’s completely normal, and it’s just trying to tell you how much it loves you.

Even if your kitty purrs when you aren’t petting it, it shouldn’t be a cause of concern. Felines live in constant anxiety because they are hunters looking for their next meal and afraid of getting hunted.

Due to this state, your cat will purr for different reasons.

When Should You Get Concerned of Loud Purrs

If you’re concerned about your abnormal purring, check for other signs that indicate the problem. Look for other symptoms of injury or illness to determine if your cat’s loud purr is abnormal.

You should get concerned if you note:

  • Sudden Change in Purring Habits: If your cat suddenly starts purring when it didn’t before, or if its purring habits significantly change, it could be a sign of discomfort, pain, or illness. Any abrupt change in behavior warrants a closer look.
  • Purring Accompanied by Other Symptoms: Check if loud purring is accompanied by difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, nasal discharge, or any signs of respiratory distress. Any of these symptoms could indicate a respiratory problem.
  • Purring While Eating or Drinking: Cats don’t typically purr while eating or drinking. If your cat starts purring loudly during these activities, it might indicate dental issues, mouth pain, or difficulty swallowing.
  • Purring Despite Obvious Signs of Pain: If your cat is purring loudly despite showing signs of pain, such as limping, avoiding movement, or guarding a specific part of its body, it could indicate that the cat is in pain and trying to self-soothe.
  • Purring While Hiding: Cats often hide when they are not feeling well. If your cat is hiding and purring loudly, it might be experiencing stress, pain, or illness.
  • Loud Purring in Elderly Cats: While older cats might purr more loudly due to age-related vocal changes, monitor any significant or sudden increase in purring volume in elderly cats. It could indicate discomfort, arthritis, or other age-related issues.

While purring is a normal cat behavior, the above situations could indicate an underlying issue you should address.

Pro Tip: If you notice sudden, distinct changes in how your cat purrs, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet for a checkup.

What Are the Benefits of Cats Purring on Humans? 

Many cat owners report that there is something innately satisfying about the soothing purrs of a cat. Science confirms that purring does much more than a cat explaining its feelings.

At 20-140 Hz, a cat’s purr can have several health benefits. A 2009 study confirms that humans can benefit from a cat’s purr. Here are some positive effects humans can get from a cat’s purr.

Improves Bone Health

No question, your cat won’t magically heal a broken bone. However, your cat’s low rumbling between 25-50 Hz can promote healing bone tissue. The vibration strengthens the bone and promotes cellular regeneration to help fractures heal faster and cleaner.

More importantly, The vibrations from purring might have pain-relieving effects. Reduced pain encourages movement, vital for maintaining bone density and strength.

Relieves Stress

Petting a purring cat is an automatic hypnotic that will lower your heart rate and help you release a specific stressor. The rhythmic and gentle sound of a cat’s purr can be soothing and reduce stress or anxiety.

The vibrations can also trigger the release of endorphins in the human brain to act as stress relievers and promote the overall sense of well-being and happiness.

Relieves Symptoms of Dyspnea

Dyspnea, or difficulty breathing, can be a distressing symptom due to various underlying conditions, such as respiratory issues, heart problems, or anxiety. 

Cat purring itself is not a direct treatment for dyspnea. However, the calming effects associated with being around a purring cat might help manage stress and anxiety, which could, in turn, alleviate some symptoms related to dyspnea. 

Improves Heart Health

Cat purring has been associated with several potential benefits for heart health. However, the importance is indirect and not a substitute for medical treatments prescribed by healthcare professionals.

According to a 2009 study, spending time purring a cat can lower blood pressure, stress and anxiety, and heart rate.

What Is the Loudest Cat Purr on Record?

According to Guinness World Record, the loudest purr by a domestic cat is 67.8 decibels. The cat was a 13-year-old called Smokey Merlin from Devon, England.

While a typical cat has a higher range, Merlin’s was consistent, earning him a spot in the record book. The cat’s loud purring became a sensation online, with many people fascinated by the idea of a cat with such extraordinary vocalization. 

How Do You Tell What Your Cat’s Loud Purr Means?

Understanding your cat’s purring can be like deciphering a secret code. While cats don’t have a standardized purr language, there are common contexts in which cats tend to purr loudly, each carrying different meanings.

You’ll have to analyze:

  • Your cat’s body language
  • Context and immediate environment
  • Vocalizations

Pro Tip: The best thing you can do to understand why your cat purrs is to watch him and look for other clues carefully.

How Do I Stop My Cat From Purring So Loud

It’s unusual to want to stop a cat from purring, as purring is typically a sign of contentment and relaxation. However, if your cat’s loud purring disrupts your sleep, work, or any other activity, you can help manage it.

Besides, you should intervene if your cat is purring because of an underlying issue, stress, or pain. 

You can:

  • Consult a Veterinarian: If you suspect your cat is purring loudly because of pain or underlying health issues, the first step is to consult a veterinarian. The vet will examine, identify, and treat any issue.
  • Create a calm environment to help mitigate loud purrs that stem from stress.
  • Offer pain management if your kitty is purring as a coping method.
  • Consult a behaviorist to provide specific strategies to address stress and anxiety.
  • Establish a routine and predictability to reduce stress related to unfamiliarity.

Wrapping It Up

Cats purr for different reasons, such as expressing affection, managing pain, communicating with other cats in a multi-cat household, and even seeking your attention.

Depending on the situation, your cat can produce a high-pitched, urgent purr to ask something from you.

Whatever the case, you can decode the purr using the context, your cat’s behavior, and vocalizations.


Why Does My Cat Purr in the Morning?

If your cat purrs in the morning, it may ask to be fed. The purring might be combined by meowing and rubbing against you to say, “It’s time for breakfast.”

Why Do Cats Purr So Loud at Night?

The most straightforward explanation for why your cat purrs at night is that you have a strong social bond. The cat might curl at the edge of your bed and purr to show it feels safe and secure in your presence at night.

Can Cats Control Their Purring?

Purring is more of an involuntary response under the control of your cat’s nervous system. In situations like when your cat is in pain or distress, your cat can’t control it. 
However, most of the time, purring is a conscious and voluntary action that kitties use to communicate various emotions and needs.

Why Do Cats Purr and Then Bite You?

Your cat can purr and then bite you because it likes you. It’s a love bite to show affection.

About Laura Martin

I'm Laura Martin. I get excited about all things cat related. I love my two cats - Dom and Kitty. When I'm not playing with my two feline friends, you can probably find me hiking. And yes, I have a 9 to 5 job. Although if you asked me I'd rather spend my time blogging and educating other cat moms and dads about what it takes to raise a healthy cat.

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