Often we ask, “Why do cats purr?” simply because we wish to empathize, as well as personify, our feline companions, and such personification necessitates understanding.
Anyone with experience around cats has, of course, made the association between a cats purr and its emotional state. Usually (but not always) we find that a cats purr corresponds to a cats happiness at that moment.
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Why Do Cats Purr when they are Happy?
Like any other physiological response to stimuli, the cats purr serves a purpose…in this case, most experts seem to agree that the cats purr has a soothing (psychological) effect, in addition to acting as a vocal communication. But why would a cat need to “sooth” itself if it is already happy? Well, like many other traits within the animal kingdom, the evolution of the cats purr cannot be simplified that easily into a concise “if-then” logic.
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For example, why do humans smile? To communicate agreement or contentment or joy? However, humans still smile when they are alone….it’s an ingrained behavior that has naturally evolved to lend itself to many scenarios, in addition to and apart from its “original” purpose in nature. After all, mammals usually bare their teeth to threaten…but as humans became social animals, that instinct adopted a new purpose.
And so, perhaps, it is with the cats purr. Cats also purr in times of distress or trauma or pain, possibly to sooth and calm themselves. One can assume that the act (purring) intended originally to induce this state, has evolved to also result from this state.