Clinic Stories

Purring

In Alice in Wonderland, dogs are said to wag their tails when happy and growl when angry while cats wag their tails when angry and growl when happy. The growl is referring of course to purring. Most cats will purr when content and petting them while in purr mode will usually increase the intensity of the purr.

Surprisingly, some cats purr in situations that are far from relaxed. Cats with severe injuries will sometimes purr, even in feral cats that have had no human interactions. I once saw a feral, unneutered tom cat who had lost both of his hind legs, was severely infected, hypothermic, and in shock, but was still purring. I think of purring like whistling or humming in people. Most of the time, it is done when one is in a good mood, but it can also make one feel better during times of stress. Purring seems to be a cat’s mantra.

It is difficult to listen to a cat’s heart while they are purring. A purr can be interrupted by placing a finger over both nostrils.

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