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Why Doesn’t My Cat Purr? 6 Possible Reasons (Vet Reviewed)

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on April 29, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat looking up

Why Doesn’t My Cat Purr? 6 Possible Reasons (Vet Reviewed)


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

There’s really nothing better than when you’re lying in bed, and your cat shows up to settle down on your chest, purring away. In fact, feline purring has been shown to lower stress and blood pressure in people, as well as help to heal bones and illnesses. A cat’s purr is pretty impressive!

But what if you never hear your cat purring? Does that mean something is wrong? No, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong! There are a handful of reasons your cat might not purr, so keep reading to find out what they are.


divider-catclaw1 Why Do Cats Purr?

Cats purr for a variety of reasons, even though purring is most often associated with a happy cat or one showing their people affection. But there’s more to purring than that! Kittens are born without sight or hearing, so they might use the feeling of their mother cat’s purr vibrating to figure out where to go to be fed.

While happy cats do purr, purring can also indicate pain or stress, as it’s believed that a cat’s purr releases endorphins that help them become calmer. (So, don’t automatically assume a purring kitty is a happy kitty; look for body language that could denote an unhappy one!) It’s not just people that a cat’s purr can help heal. Purring may help a cat to soothe themselves.

Finally, purring can simply be a reinforced behavior that your cat learned to offer when they try to get something from you, such as more cuddles, a treat, attention, etc.

woman holding and stroking a cat purring
Image Credit: Gadzick, Shutterstock

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The 6 Possible Reasons Why a Cat Won’t Purr

But you’re here for the reasons your cat isn’t purring. Here are the most common reasons for this occurrence.

1. You Just Aren’t Hearing It

If you’ve never heard your cat purr before, there’s a chance that your feline is simply one that purrs very quietly, and you just aren’t hearing it. Of course, if this is the reason behind the belief your furry friend isn’t purring, it’s easy enough to check, as you should be able to feel the vibrations that come with purring, whether you can hear it or not.

So, the next time you and your cat are hanging out, very gently lay your hand on their throat or chest to see if you can feel any vibrating going on.

2. Cats Communicate Differently

All felines are individuals, which means they all communicate differently. While one cat might indicate hunger by weaving between your legs and purring while you’re making your way to the kitchen, another might just sit by the food bowl and give you “those” eyes. So, the reason your cat doesn’t purr may simply be because they communicate in a different way, either via body language or facial expressions.

If you’re easily able to decipher what your cat is trying to tell you when asking for food or love, this could be the reason for the lack of purring.

british shorthair cat yawning and purring
Image By: Dmitry Kalinovsky, Shutterstock

3. There’s Injury to the Vocal Cords

Maybe your cat has never purred, or perhaps they used to purr but haven’t in a while. Either situation could be the result of an injury to the vocal cords. Certain health issues can result in inflammation or swelling around this area, which can cause pain during purring, leading to no sound. If yours is a case of having never heard your pet purr, they might have suffered a problem with the vocal cords early on in life that caused damage. The development of laryngeal paralysis and tumors can also be behind the lack of purring.

If your pet used to purr and stopped recently, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet to check and see if anything is wrong.

vet holding burma cat
Image By: Elpisterra, Shutterstock

4. They’re Sick

Or, if your cat used to be big on purring but isn’t anymore, they could be ill in general. Cats have the instinct to hide away when they’re feeling unwell or if they’ve been injured, and being quieter could be part of that—blame it on their wild cat ancestry! An injured or ill cat in the wild is more susceptible to predators, so they might instinctively attempt to be quieter to avoid attracting attention.

If your feline has gone silent, this might be a sign that they could be sick, so a quick check-in with your vet certainly wouldn’t hurt!

5. They’re Stressed

Our feline friends aren’t big on changes to their routine, so even the smallest thing out of the norm can stress them out, and a stressed cat may become quiet and withdrawn. So, if you’ve had recent changes to your routine or something bigger, such as adding a new pet or even a baby to the home, and your pet is no longer purring, theymay be feeling stressed.

If you think stress is the reason your cat isn’t purring, you can try to help through environmental modifications, such as adding artificial pheromones or more enrichment to their life.

stressed cat
Image By: yvonneschmu, Pixabay

6. There Are Behavioral Changes due to Desired or Undesired Consequences

All cats are individuals, which means sometimes, cats become less outspoken and vocalize less while trying to get or avoid certain consequences. If your cat prefers to be left alone and doesn’t wish to be touched, there’s a chance that they aren’t purring simply because they feel less of a need to get your attention with vocalizations.

How Do I Get My Cat to Purr?

If your fur baby has a vocal cord issue, such as laryngeal paralysis or tumors, there’s really nothing you can do to encourage them to begin purring, though some cats have resorted to purring after getting surgery. However, if it’s more that your pet is just on the quieter side, you can certainly try to encourage them to do some purring.

You can do this by:
  • Being affectionate with your catby petting them in areas they like
  • Cuddling
  • Keeping your cat comfy by making the surrounding environment to their liking
  • Keeping your cat happy by playing and spending time with them

Don’t be discouraged if your kitty doesn’t become a purrer, though. As long as they aren’t ill or stressed out, it’s fine that your pet doesn’t purr.

divider-catclaw1 Conclusion

Your cat might not be purring for a variety of possible reasons. It could be that your pet just doesn’t purr or prefers communicating in other ways, such as through body language, or your pet could be ill or stressed out. If you believe your pet is ill, then it’s advisable to seek a vet’s attention sooner rather than later.

But if you believe the reason your cat isn’t purring is different, you may be able to encourage them by being affectionate and playing with them, among other things. However, if your feline friend never purrs, don’t feel discouraged! As long as the kitty isn’t sick, it’s fine that they choose not to.

Featured Image Credit: victoriyasmail, Shutterstock

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