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W​hy Does My Cat Purr When She Sees Me?

If your cat purrs when she sees you, constantly, you may get curious and wonder why this happens…

Why does my cat purr when she sees me?

While there are a number of reasons that can cause your cat to purr, in a scenario where they simply see you and begin purring right away then it is most often affection. It’s not uncommon to get a greeting meow right along with it, as a further sign that they are missing you and happy to see you!

So, now you know. But, do cats purr instinctively? Is this behavior a good sign? Can cats control this purring? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Do cats purr instinctively?

A cat staring.

A cat staring.

Purring is largely instinctive with cats, but it is also believed to have a voluntary component as well. This belief comes from the wide range of behaviors when a cat might start purring, which may include affection, nervousness, playfulness, or even a rumbling communication meant for other cats.

Some cats may even purr when injured, to comfort themselves. Put most simply, the purr itself is indeed mostly instinctive and ‘automatic’, but your cat has also learned to purr ‘at will’ when they want as well!  

Is a cat’s purr a good sign?

More often than not, that purr is a good sign, but you need to factor in the context and the cat in question. If this is a friend’s cat, for instance, the purr might well indicate that they are nervous and that this ‘happy’ kitty is about to give you a swat!

Look to see if the cat looks tensed up or relaxed and you can generally spot the answer quickly. If the cat is tightened up like a spring, then the purr should be considered a potential warning, but if they instead seem relaxed and especially if they are rubbing up against you, then the purring is an excellent sign.

Can cats control purring

When your cat purrs, this is an activity that is situated in the voicebox and which causes the laryngeal muscles to open and close the glottis at an approximate rate of 25 to 150 times per second. For the most part, this is believed to be ‘automatic’ but as a cat gets older there do seem to be scenarios when the cat can ‘initiate’ the purring.

For instance, sometimes your cat might nudge your hand and then the purring starts shortly after, even before you respond. A playful cat might observe a loose sting on your pants and start purring and wagging their tails before a ‘strike’ at this.

This is where it gets a little hard to definitely measure things, because cats have personalities quite as unique their owners, making testing scenarios hard to match across the board. The bottom line – we can safely say that MOST purring seems to be automatic – but these mysterious and loving creatures are simply too difficult to test with 100% certainty.

Do kittens purr when they see their parents?

Kittens do this often with their parents, purring and meowing when they see them, and this loving behavior carries on into adulthood and transfers right to you.

Why is my cat purring so loud?

As this behavior results in the voicebox from a neural cue, it could indicate one of two scenarios. If it is a purr that starts soft and then moves to louder, then that is an indicator of increased excitement (which could be the happy kind or the ‘nervous’ kind).

That said, if your cat has a ‘robust’ purr from start to finish, that just means that your particular cat has a naturally loud ‘purr voice’. Their glottis is opening and closing naturally on the higher side of that 50 – 250 repetitions per second scale.

Why does my cat choose to sleep on me and purr?

A cat laying next to its owner.

A cat laying next to its owner.

When your cat purposely climbs upon you to settle down for a nap, the accompanying purr is a sign of deep love and affection. This will often include ‘kneading’ with the paws or your cat brushing against you as well, so that they may further mark you with their scent.

It’s easy to forget that these adorable little furry friends of ours are predators, and the simple act of sleeping close shows immense amounts of trust. The added purring is just a confirmation of the love for you that goes with that trust.   

Why does my cat purr when I am near it?

Purring doesn’t always mean contentment, but if your cat is healthy and is already used to you then it is probably just a sign of love and affection. Watch the body language that your cat produces with it. A wagging tail is going to mean the purr could be playful excitement, while a hunched-up or tense posture might mean that the cat is nervous or is ill.

Why won’t some kittens purr for their owner?

Sometimes you’ll have a scenario where a kitten purrs for others, but not you, or doesn’t seem to purr much at all. This can happen, but what it means is something that you have to determine by watching them.

For instance, let’s say that your cat licks your hand a lot and nudges against you, but is not purring. This is still a definite sign of affection. If that same kitten then purrs for one or more of your friends nearby, then the purring could be a ‘nervous’ behavior your kitten is producing for them, rather than the affectionate kind.

If your friend has been handling them more than you before this occurs, then they might simply have more of your cat’s scent on them. Cats has numerous scent glands and when they rub up against you, they are marking you in the process — this makes them more comfortable around you.

Consider if you have any strong external scents on you, like cologne or perfume, to help to rule this out.

Do cats have a special purr when they are hungry?

Your cat is not purring because they are hungry, but because they are excited. Your cat knows that you love them and that you are about to feed them, and this drives the affectionate purr that you’ve grown used to when they anticipate a feeding.

The same hungry cat might spot a mouse, but they are purring in anticipation of catching that mouse, not out of hunger. The volume of that resultant purr is also going to vary from cat to cat. Some will be quite loud, while other cats will be more subdued – it really just depends on the individual feline in question.    

Why do cats purr and then bite you?

This depends on the scenario and the bite that you receive. For instance, if you are petting an unfamiliar cat and you get a nasty bite, despite the purring, then the cat was purring as a result of their nervousness.

If the bite is more of a light nip, however, then this is a ‘love bite’ and it is more of a sign of happy excitement. When they are kittens, grooming often included little nips and your cat has simply kept this childhood behavior and now they are grooming you in this way.

The body language will generally tell you everything that you need to know. To keep things on the safe side, if you don’t know the cat that you are petting, then don’t be surprised if you get a bite!

Lindsey Browlingdon