Do Massive Cats Purr? The Shocking Reply


lions in the wild

Most cats don’t have any issues with being vocal. They might be greeting you on the door, asking for additional head scratches, reminding you they will see the underside of their meals bowl, or chirping as they chase a pesky fly round your condominium. The way in which cats talk is exclusive to them; it differs from human strategies of communication and is extremely efficient and vital to cats.

Vocalizing helps cats bond socially, exhibit, and even defend themselves when wanted. Nevertheless, housecats have extra in widespread with their larger, wild ancestors than you could initially understand.

Any cat proprietor can inform you they love the sound of a cat’s purr, however you could be questioning simply how comparable your cat is to a lion or jaguar. Do massive cats purr too? Or can your home cat roar? The reply isn’t a easy sure or no. For essentially the most half, massive cats like lions, tigers, and leopards can roar however can’t purr. Nevertheless, smaller wild cats like cougars, bobcats, and home cats can purr however can not roar. Whereas this will look like a tough no, some massive cats, like Cheetahs, can purr. However why? Let’s discover out.

What Is Purring?

Purring is feasible in cats due to the tightly related, delicate bones that line the again of a cat’s tongue as much as the bottom of its cranium. When a cat vibrates its larynx or voice field, it causes these skinny bones to resonate. These bones within the cat’s throat are known as the hyoid, they usually help the larynx and the tongue.

The hyoid is a U-shaped bone straight above the thyroid cartilage, or what we think about the Adam’s Apple space in people. The hyoid bone is ossified in smaller cats like our domesticated housecats. A home home cat’s hyoid bone has inflexible, bony tissue. When a bobcat, cheetah, or cougar makes its larynx vibrate, it causes the hyoid bone to resonate or to supply a deep, full, and reverberating sound. This low-frequency rumble is the addictive noise we affectionately name purring.

In massive cats, nonetheless, this hyoid bone is simply partially ossified: fully altering which noises and vocalizations that bigger species of cats could make. Lions, tigers, and jaguars have a versatile hyoid bone that’s solely partially connected. This permits them to supply deep and terrifying roars however prevents them from making purring noises like their smaller counterparts.

Why Do Cats Purr?

Whereas it may be discouraging to find lions and tigers can’t purr, you could be questioning why cats purr within the first place. Nobody is aware of when or why smaller cat species developed the power to purr. When you take heed to your cat whereas they purr (and let’s be sincere, who doesn’t lay their head on their cat when their cat is purring), you may hear that the purring noise is one steady sound they make that’s unaffected by their respiratory patterns.

Most frequently, you’ll find that cats purr whereas they’re content material and having fun with cuddles and scratches. Some cats purr whereas consuming, and others purr whereas being brushed. There are a number of conditions the place you could hear your cat vocalizing by purring.

  • Consideration Looking for: Cats purr to request your consideration. In case your cat is brushing up in opposition to you and asking for scratches and pets, you could hear them purring even earlier than you begin to acquiesce to their request. Nevertheless, attention-seeking may not at all times be for cuddles, and it could possibly sound totally different relying on the scenario. For instance, in case your cat is hungry, its purr would possibly sound totally different and be mixed with meowing because it expresses discontent.

  • Glad: In case your cat is completely satisfied, it might begin purring. Happiness is available in many varieties. Your cat could purr if they’re laying of their favourite sun-flooded spot for a nap or getting chin scratches which might be excellent. Cats’ completely satisfied purring is their model of a happy sigh, which is the commonest trigger behind purring.

  • Mothering: In case you have ever had a mom cat and her litter, you understand that purring is extraordinarily widespread. In truth, purring is without doubt one of the first vocalizations a kitten could make. With a mom and her liter, purring usually is a approach for the kittens to inform their mom that they’re okay and content material. As for the mom, she could purr as a approach of bonding together with her litter or comforting them to sleep.

  • Self-Soothing: Opposite to fashionable perception, not all purring is to indicate happiness. Typically, a cat could purr to scale back its anxiousness and discomfort. Very similar to how your cat can sense your anxiousness or discomfort and purrs to appease you, they may usually purr to appease themselves. When you discover your cat purring after surgical procedure or harm or a very anxious occasion, it might be self-soothing to advertise therapeutic or reduce anxiousness.
woman holding and stroking a cat purring
Picture Credit score: Gadzick, Shutterstock

Massive Cat Vocalizations

Whereas the truth that massive cats like lions and tigers can not purr could also be barely disappointing, the opposite vocalizations they’re able to are equally fascinating. Bigger cat’s hyoid bone prevents them from purring, however it permits their larynx sufficient flexibility to create that terrifying full-throated roar we love to listen to.


The powerful cartilage of the hyoid bone permits a lion’s roar to be simply heard and felt nearly 5 miles away. A lion’s roar may even attain a human’s ache threshold if they’re standing too shut. Whereas lions can not purr, they’ve one thing equal—a chuff or moan. Some lions could launch a low chuff to specific their contentedness when speaking with different lions. Lions may make a comfortable groan sound that they sometimes launch when bonding with one other lion.


Not like lions, tigers are likelier to launch a roar that sounds extra like a massively spectacular growl. Tigers’ growls and roars can carry as much as 2 miles from their location. Like common cats’ purring, a tiger’s growl can imply a number of issues. Typically a loud growl can warn different tigers encroaching into a person’s territory, name out for his or her household, or invite mates.


It’s unimaginable to not point out cheetahs when discussing purring and massive cat vocalizations. Cheetahs are extremely distinctive, and never only for their velocity. They’re technically in a cat class all their very own as a result of they’re one of many solely massive cats able to purring. As a substitute of roaring, cheetahs launch a high-pitched chirp sound.

Cheetahs chirp to speak, show misery, find one another, or in the event that they wish to entice a mate. Nevertheless, cheetahs may purr. Cheetahs produce all kinds of sounds, together with growling, an explosive yelp (totally different from their chirp), and the coveted purring sound. Like common housecats, a cheetah’s purr sometimes is a approach of displaying their happiness.

cheetah on a log
Picture Credit score: Glavo, Pixabay


Purring is commonly one of many first issues we take into consideration when speaking about domesticated housecats. A cat’s purr is equally as soothing to us as it’s to them. The extremely coveted purring sound is feasible due to a cat’s distinctive hyoid bone in its throat.

Whereas not all wild cats can purr, all of them have distinctive strategies of speaking and displaying their happiness. Subsequent time you get the possibility to go to a zoo, pay particular consideration to the sounds the massive cats make when speaking with one another. They could simply shock you!

Featured Picture Credit score: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay


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