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Why Doesn’t My Cat Purr? 7 Reasons & What to Do

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat looking up

Why Doesn’t My Cat Purr? 7 Reasons & What to Do

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 its people affection. But there’s more to purring than that! Kittens are born without sight or hearing, so they need to feel mama 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!)

Finally, it’s not just people that a cat’s purr can help heal. Purring may help a cat heal itself if it’s injured or ill.

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

3 cat face divider

The 7 Reasons Why Some Cats Don’t Purr

But you’re here for the reasons your cat isn’t purring. Here are the seven 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 its throat or chest to see if you can feel any vibrating going on.

2. Cats Communicates 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 its food dish and give you sad eyes. So, the reason your cat doesn’t purr may simply be because it communicates 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 it asks 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. The Cat Was Once Feral

If your cat was once a feral kitten, then its mother could have discouraged it from purring as a kitten to avoid predators. This could translate into continued silence, even after it’s been rescued or gotten older. Feral cats also aren’t socialized to humans, which can result in them being much more silent than their domesticated counterparts.

In fact, one way to tell the difference between a feral cat and a stray one is in how the two vocalize—stray cats will meow or purr, while feral ones will not.

4. Injury to the Vocal Cords

Maybe your cat has never purred, or perhaps it used to purr but hasn’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, it might have suffered a problem with the vocal cords early on in life that caused damage.

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

vet holding burma cat
Image By: Elpisterra, Shutterstock

5. Illness

Or, if your cat used to be big on purring but isn’t anymore, it 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 is part of that; blame it on their wild cat ancestry! An injured or ill cat in the wild knows it’s weaker to predators, so it will attempt to be quieter to avoid attracting attention.

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

6. Stress

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 can 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, it may just be stressed.

If you think stress is the reason your cat isn’t purring, then you can help it de-stress in a way such as through artificial pheromones or by adding more enrichment to its life.

stressed cat
Image By: yvonneschmu, Pixabay

7. Is Older

As we said before, all cats are individuals. That means that sometimes as cats age, they become less outspoken and vocalize less (although others will be louder than ever to let you know how they feel!). If your cat is getting into its senior years, there’s a chance it isn’t purring simply because it’s calmer and feels less of a need to get your attention with vocalization.

Cat ball divider 1How Do I Get My Cat to Purr?

If your fur baby is just a non-purrer, then there’s really not anything you can do to encourage it to begin purring (the same goes for a cat with an old vocal cord injury). However, if it’s more that your pet is just on the quieter side, you can certainly try to encourage it to do some purring.

You can do this by:
  • Being affectionate with your cat by petting it in areas it likes
  • Cuddling
  • Keeping your cat comfy by making the surrounding environment to its liking
  • Keeping your cat happy by playing and spending time with it

Don’t be discouraged if your kitty doesn’t become a purrer, though. As long as it isn’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 common 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 it toward running its motor by being affectionate and playing with it, 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 it isn’t a purrer.

Featured Image Credit: victoriyasmail, Shutterstock

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