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What does it mean when a kitten purrs?

What does it mean when a kitten purrs?

What does it mean when a kitten purrs? Are you trying to figure out the hidden meanings?

Don’t worry, we have your back. Just read on to find out the answers.

Getting a new kitten is nothing short of exciting. However, once you are past the initial excitement, you may feel a bit overwhelmed.

You may have prepared yourself by reading up on the subject. However, putting theory into practice can be daunting especially because it’s something new and unfamiliar.

Understanding the specific behaviors of your kitten is important to develop a good relationship and a lasting bond.

Purring is the pleasant rhythmic sound that your kitten makes, almost like a murmur. It is one of the many traits that makes your pet so adorable.

Is your kitten trying to communicate when he purrs? What does it mean when a kitten purrs? In this article, we will look at why kittens purr and help you decode the hidden meanings.

What is purring?

A kitten’s purr combines sound and vibrations and understanding the meaning of the sounds can help you to meet your pet’s needs and develop a good relationship from the start.

Kittens start purring a few days after birth. The purring alerts the mother to the presence of the kittens and reminds her that they need to be nursed. It’s a mechanism for communication and bonding between the mother cat and the kittens.

The mother’s cat’s purr is also important to the survival of a kitten. When newly born it’s the vibrations of the mother’s purr, which helps the kitten to reach her for nursing. They are usually deaf and blind at birth.

Kittens do not have a special organ that produces the purring sound. The sound is produced when air that a kitten breathes in touches the muscles of the larynx and diaphragm.

The purr also varies from one kitten to the other. It can be high pitched in some, a low rumble in others and in some others so faint that you will not hear anything unless nearby.

Why do kittens purr? The hidden reasons

Just happy

Your kitten may purr just because he is happy. If he purrs while nestled comfortably in your lap, he wants you to know that he is happy and trusts you. The behavior is often seen when a kitten is with his mother and when he does it with you, he is just remembering the comfort and security that he had with his mother and littermates.

Your kitten might also purr while drinking or eating to indicate contentment

Asking for affection

When your kitten purrs while near your or rubbing on you, he may just be asking for affection from you.

He may also be asking for food and in this case the purr may be slightly high pitched to indicate urgency. 

Trying to soothe or heal

Kittens also purr to pacify themselves when upset or in pain. The vibrations of the purring besides being soothing also hasten the healing by increasing blood flow and alleviating inflammation.

Purr types and meaning

You cannot know the emotion behind the purr without looking at other aspects.

Look at the body language:

To better understand the meaning conveyed in the purr, you need to also look at the body language of your kitten. Body posture, position of the tail and expressions are all important. If the body is relaxed, the tail moving gently and eyes are half open, it means your kitten is happy.

On the other hand, if your kitten is anxious, you will notice that the body is stiff, tail is down and pupils are dilated.

Relating your kitten’s purr to his body language is the best way to understand the emotions behind your kitten’s purr.

Pay attention to other sounds

A kitten purring and releasing a high-pitched meow at the same time is either excited or keen to play.

On the other hand, purring along with hissing is a sign that your kitten is upset or in an aggressive mood.

A more high pitched purr can indicate that the kitten is anxious. Similarly, if your kitten pants or shows its teeth while purring, it can also mean that they are feeling anxious.

Look at the context

Looking at the context in which your kitten is purring will also help to understand what they are trying to communicate.

A kitten purring while on your lap or rubbing against you is indicating the desire for affection or to bond with you. 

A kitten purring while licking themselves or readying himself for sleep, is indicating that he is relaxed and feeling secure.

Check with a Vet if concerned

While a kitten’s purrs often signal positive feelings, it may also signal discomfort or distress. If your kitten’s purrs are accompanied by withdrawal, lack of appetite or aggressive behavior its important that you talk to your vet to rule out any health issues.


Trying to understand your kitten’s purrs will ensure that you have an excellent bond with your pet. You will be able to respond correctly to his needs, and your kitten will feel secure and learn to trust you.

For more information on bringing a new kitten home and tips on care, see our article: Bringing a new kitten home: Must-know tips