Why is my cat not purring?

First of all – What actually is purring?

Cats make a lot of different noises. Meowing, growling, hissing, crying.

The most common vocalisation you will probably hear come from a feline though is purring.

A low, murmuring sound, is how cats express happiness or contentment. How often have you heard a purr as you gently stroke your feline friend?

Research has shown purring occurs when muscles within the cat’s larynx move the vocal cords. As they breathe in and out, air touches the vibrating muscles, producing an unmistakable sound that is thought to be partly voluntary and partly instinctive.

As well as using the soft rumble as a way of communicating, cats will also purr as a form of self-soothing or even healing. This is why you may hear the low frequency murmur when they are injured, or following a stressful incident.

It isn’t always easy to know why a cat is purring. You may hear them making the sound at mealtime when they’re hungry, or it could be because they’re feeling nervous. 

Always pay attention to the context of the situation.

What are the reasons behind my cat not purring?

The volume, frequency and intensity of the sound may vary, but the vast majority of cats do indeed purr.

If your feline happens to be in the minority, and a single purr has never left their lips, this isn’t the result of anything untoward. And they are just as likely as any other cat to go on and lead a happy and healthy life. 

When a cat suddenly stops purring, in many cases, it’s down to a treatable reason. Laryngitis, which is an inflammation of the larynx, can mean a cat may struggle to verbalise. Treatment for laryngitis can range from a few days rest to a course of antibiotics prescribed by a vet. 

Other factors that may cause a cat to stop purring include age and stress, as well as foreign objects lodged in their throat. Medical conditions, such as feline leukaemia or diabetes, should not be ruled out either. 

Should I seek help from a vet?

There’s no need to be concerned if your cat happens to only purr every now and then, or has never purred for that matter. 

However, you will want to start observing their behaviour if they’ve suddenly stopped purring – you don’t need to be picking up the phone to the vet just yet though.

Stress or anxiety can cause a significant change in the way a cat behaves, including how they vocalise. 

As most pet parents will know, even the smallest change in a cat’s routine can send stress levels soaring. 

So, we need to be constantly mindful of anything that causes our felines to worry; things like a new pet, a change in diet, loud noises.

Restoring a cat’s sense of calm should hopefully result in the return of their purr. 

If their sudden silence is accompanied by a loss of appetite, increased lethargy, strange behaviour or vomiting, then medical assistance may well be required.

Schedule an appointment with your vet straightaway.  

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