Do Cats Purr When They Are in Pain? – Healing Power of Cat’s Purrs
Similar to other low-frequency animal vocalisations, purring is usually linked to cooperative social behaviours, including nursing, grooming, relaxing, and friendliness. But since cats can purr under stressful circumstances as well, it appears more plausible that purring is just calming or self-soothing.
Do cats purr when they are in pain? Research suggests that a cat’s purr may have therapeutic benefits. According to one study, all cats purr at frequencies between 25 to 150 hertz, which are used in therapeutic treatments for bone formation, wound healing, and pain relief. Additionally, purring could benefit cat owners’ cardiovascular health.
In this article, I’ll go into more depth about the mystifying power of purring and how it can help cats experience less pain. I’ll also discuss some more discomfort indicators you should be aware of so you can determine when your cat requires a little extra gentle, loving care.
How Can I Tell if a Cat is in Pain?
Cats do purr when they are in pain, but this is not the sign you should be looking for. Cats also purr for a number of reasons, including happiness, overstimulation, bonding, and even dreaming. Therefore, you should look for more overt and obvious signs of pain. Purring is thought to provide therapeutic benefits that might help your cat feel more at ease and recover more quickly. The frequency of the vibrations and how they influence the subject’s body holds the secret to this.
Sleeping postures: Sick cats may take on specific sleeping positions that are obvious signs of their suffering and agony. For instance, whereas the cat loaf position may indicate a paw injury, the meatloaf position might indicate significant pain and renal failure.
Changes in appetite: If your cat’s food habits alter, you can quickly identify a problem. If your cat isn’t eating much but otherwise seems to be in good condition, it can be having tooth pain or experiencing digestive discomfort.
Lethargy: Cats in pain will seem more worn out than usual since their bodies are conserving energy to help them heal. If they have an injury or another ailment that makes movement unpleasant, it may be harder for them to move and engage in physical activity.
Behaviour modifications: If your cat suddenly acts more aggressively than usual, particularly while being petted, it could be in discomfort. The pain will make them irritable. Additionally, touching the wound could make your cat feel worse and cause a response.
Grooming habits: Changes to grooming habits frequently happen as well. If your cat gets bored, she can stop grooming herself altogether. On the other hand, they can over-groom the sore and unpleasant area, which would cause itchiness and hair loss.
In addition to purring, cats often produce various noises when they are in pain. They typically begin making additional vocalisations, sometimes in loud, furious meows. Along with this, hissing and growling are frequently audible.
How Do Purrs Help Cats in Pain?
We also know why this happens: purring facilitates healing by reducing the stress brought on by pain. But how? Why does purring have such incredible physical therapeutic benefits?
Actually, there are several ways that purring might help a cat feel better. This explains why purring is advantageous for a variety of ailments and wounds. It could also shed some light on why cats are known for fast recovering from injuries and shattered bones; the purr is involved! Here is a thorough analysis of all the ways that purring encourages healing and pain reduction.
1. Purring Acts as Vibrational Therapy
Simply put, a purr is an ongoing vibration produced by the rapid vibrating of the voice cords brought on by the twitching of the laryngeal muscles. This causes vibrations to occur between 25 to 150 times per minute, producing the well-known and adored rumbling purring sound.
The vibration frequency of a purr ranges from 25 to 150 Hz, the same range as that used in vibrational therapy for human health. A vibrating device is placed on a certain location of the body in order to impart vibrations to that area and the muscles under the skin.
The muscles rapidly contract and relax as a result of these vibrations. Numerous benefits resulted from this, including improved blood flow to the muscles and accelerated healing of strained or torn tendons and muscles. Additionally, improved circulation lowers muscle discomfort by facilitating quicker blood flow to the injured region.
2. Purring Releases Endorphins
Endorphins are substances found in the brains of cats that are responsible for producing motivation and happy emotions. This explains why cats purr when they are happy since doing so causes them to release more endorphins, which makes them feel even better.
Therefore, purring is often connected with happiness and contentment. Due to the analgesic effects of these hormones, pain perception is diminished. Therefore, endorphins work as a natural analgesic in the nervous system of your cat.
3. Purring Makes Breathing Easier
When a cat has respiratory issues, breathing might be difficult for them. Surprisingly, several studies have found that purring also helps with this! It won’t help with allergies, but it can enable a cat whose breathing is laboured as it sleeps to resume a normal breathing rhythm. However, it does rely on the specific type of breathing issues.
Since both endorphins and vibrations have a calming effect and ease tension, they are both thought to have this therapeutic ability. Additionally, the repeating vibrations help your cat’s lungs breathe at a steady rate.
Find Out: Do Cats Stop Purring When They are Dying?
Purr and Pain
For a very long time, people who like cats, veterinarians, and scientists have all pondered why cats purr. The most well-known component is pleasure and fulfilment. For instance, it’s common for cats to purr as a show of contentment and loyalty when you pet them.
Other Reasons for Purring
- Dreaming: The fact that cats dream, like humans, is one of the most frequent reasons for their midnight purring. Though we might never discover what they are dreaming of! According to studies, two cats who purr simultaneously are bonding. Moms and kittens create strong familial relationships by purring to one another in a manner similar to this.
- Overstimulation: Cats frequently purr when humans pet them to show that they are comfortable, but they can also purr to show discomfort or overstimulation.
- Pain: Another thing that makes purr is pain. Both physical pain from an illness or injury and mental suffering from worry or fear might be experienced. A relaxing trait of cats is their purring. As a result, when cats are nervous or in pain, they purr to help themselves feel better.
- Healing: Additionally, it’s thought that purring contains healing qualities that might speed your cat’s recovery from the illness or condition that’s ailing it. All of this is connected to the purring’s vibrational frequency.
Find Out: Can Cats Control Their Purring?
Painful Conditions That Cats often Experience
Everything that your cat does, including its behaviour, breathing, heart rate, and even looks, may change when it is in pain.
Even while it makes sense that your cat would feel pain from a broken bone, an open wound, or a surgical procedure, they aren’t the sole sources of pain. There are a number of other common illnesses that cause discomfort but are commonly misdiagnosed by cat owners since we are unable to ask about our animals’ current health.
- Inflammation such as gastroenteritis or pancreatitis etc.
- Cancer, particularly bone cancer, oral squamous cell carcinomas, any type of cancer that causes an organ to enlarge (such as the kidney or spleen), and tumours that press on important internal organs.
- Ear Infection, particularly if the infection affects the middle or inner ear or has been present for a long time, cats that have ear infections may suffer from agonising discomfort.
- Digestive system obstruction, such as linear foreign body blockages
- Arthritis (joint inflammation): perhaps the hip, the elbow, or any other joint (s). (Remember that cats are far more likely than people think to suffer from the discomfort of misdiagnosed and untreated arthritis.)
- Periodontal disease or dental fracture (Frequently referred to as FORLs or “neck lesions”), dental resorption lesions
- Difficulties with the eyes, such as glaucoma, uveitis, or corneal ulcers.
- An obstruction in the urethra is caused by cystitis, an infection of the bladder.
It’s critical to contact or see your veterinarian whenever you believe your cat may be experiencing pain or exhibiting the pain symptoms we’ve listed above. To effectively treat and manage pain and avert tragedy, it is essential to pinpoint its underlying cause.
Signs and Symptoms of Pain in Cats
You probably know your cat better than the majority of people, even your doctor. Cat owners are typically the first to detect when something is amiss with their cherished feline friend, and this might include even the most subtle symptoms. Knowing what is “normal” for your cat, including their typical attitude, activity level, stride, hunger, thirst, sleeping patterns, and other physical and behavioural traits, makes it much easier to see when they are acting differently.
Furthermore, they lack discrimination; thus, they could use their teeth, claws, or both to attack even close pals! This is particularly true if you touch or move the painful area, the cat senses you’re about to do so, or both.
1. Breathing Modifications
A cat experiencing discomfort could breathe more swiftly or shallowly. Even start to pant. You could even notice a change in how your stomach and chest muscles move as both are engaged in breathing.
Normally, cats breathe 12 to 60 times each minute. Your findings will be inaccurate if your cat is sniffing, waking up, or moving about while you’re counting.
In general, a cat who is unwell or in distress may groom itself less regularly. However, a cat with a wound could overgroom the area, which will only cause them more pain and suffering.
2. Heart Rate and Pulse Changes
The cat’s heart beats at the same pace as its pulse when blood is pushed from the heart to the veins. When your cat is in pain or discomfort, its heart or pulse rate may possibly rise.
A cat’s heart typically beats between 160 and 200 times per minute while it is at REST (sleep). You may measure your cat’s heart rate at home similarly to how you test their respiratory rate by placing your hand on their chest, just below their elbow, counting their heartbeats for 15 seconds, then multiplying that figure by 4. Given that a cat’s heart rate is often rather quick, this may frequently be challenging to do. As a result, it could be more advantageous to base your assessment on other elements such as their respiration rate, demeanour, adjustments to their posture, etc.
3. Gum Colour
A cat’s gums normally have a light pink tinge; however, this can vary greatly if your cat will let it (without biting you! ), gently pull its lip. You may gently look at the gum’s colour. White, grey, blue, or purple gums should not be present, as this may indicate that the tissues are not receiving enough oxygen. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be very red since this might indicate pain, inflammation, or elevated blood pressure.
Despite the fact that our cats often purr when they are pleased, they may also utilise it to communicate stress, fear, or other requirements, such as when they are in pain or uncomfortable.
5. Energy Level Changes
Pain frequently makes cats less active. This typically makes a cat sleep longer, but it may also make the cat less active in terms of running or jumping.
When they are uncomfortable, many cats may spend time under beds, on couches, or even in closets. Since hiding is frequently a highly telling symptom, especially if it’s unusual behaviour for your cat, keep an eye out for it.
7. Changes in Eating or Drinking
Changes in eating or drinking: Your cat may begin to eat or drink less depending on where they feel uncomfortable. They could feel too uncomfortable to get up to get to their meal dishes.
8. Modifications to Movement
The pain usually results in a loss of mobility. Depending on what hurts, your cat may continue to move about as much but may seem somewhat different. You might notice them limping, going up and down stairs more slowly, or not being as excited or able to leap as they previously were.
9. Changes in Bathroom Routines
Given how cats position themselves to pee and defecate in their litter boxes, pain may make them strain to do so! There could be less garbage for you to pick up as a consequence. Cats may occasionally get constipation as a result of their struggle to go to the bathroom. It may be difficult for cats with painful joints or bones to use their litter boxes.
Why Do Cats Purr?
- Your cat could purr in unexpected situations, including during a car ride or as they wait in their carrier at the vet’s office. Its purr has the ability to soothe not only its owners but also the cat.
- A cat may purr when it is ravenous and pleading for food. These purrs are unique from other common purrs, according to scientific studies. Cats are rumoured to use their purr in conjunction with other threatening noises to get the desired response from their owners. Purrs that are caused by hunger are usually accompanied by other sounds.
- Cats have reportedly been seen purring in reaction to injury or illness. As was already said, when cats begin purring, their breathing begins to become better. Due to evidence that sound frequency might speed up physical recovery, you might also encounter this after an accident.
- The two things that make cats purr most frequently are happiness and love. Cats commonly headbutt and rub up against their owners while purring loudly, or they may even snuggle up and slowly purr on their lap. They could purr to express their gratitude for your presence and how much comfort you provide them.
- There is certainly a lot of purring going on if you’ve ever been around a mother cat and her kittens. This is mother and kitten talking to each other. Cats are born defenceless, hearing-impaired, and blind. The kittens begin purring a few days after birth to communicate their contentment to their mother. To soothe the kittens, the mother cat will purr.
Frequently Asked Questions
Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t always purr when they’re content. Illness and discomfort are included. The calming benefits of a cat’s purr help minimise pain-related stress and discomfort and speed up the healing process.
If you think your cat is in pain, take it to the vet so they can try to determine the cause and provide a recommendation for treatment. In the meanwhile, try feeding your cat some catnip. Catnip may help injured cats feel less pain and be more comfortable. While your cat heals, it’s crucial to give them the space they need while still giving them your love.
Who Is Isabella?
My name is Isabella, and I am a dedicated and knowledgeable cat enthusiast. With years of experience caring for cats and a deep love for felines, I made a mission to help other cat lovers navigate the challenges of cat ownership.