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Do Cats Purr When They’re Dying? Interesting Answer

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

cat kneading and purring while lying on owner's lap

Purring is widely accepted as a sign that your cat is happy, relaxed, and content. We all love to find ways to make our cats purr, whether it’s through chin scratches or offering special treats. Have you ever noticed your cat purring at an unusual time, though? Maybe during a stressful vet visit or a long car trip? It can be confusing when this happens. It can even lull you into a false sense of comfort and make you think your cat is content and happy when they are actually stressed or in pain. However, truth is, that cats usually don’t purr when they are dying. There can be exceptions though.

hepper cat paw divider

Do Cats Purr When They’re Dying?

Unfortunately, our feline friends all reach the end of their lives, usually during our own lifetimes. This means that you’ll likely be with your cat when they are in the process of dying. Death isn’t an immediate thing in many cases, so your cat may be nearing death for a long period of time. It can be difficult to monitor, though, especially when your cat starts purring.

It isn’t uncommon for cats to purr during death, with some vets even reporting cats purring during euthanasia. For dying cats, purring is usually accompanied by other symptoms of stages of death, including rapid breathing, anorexia, weight loss, loss of desire to groom, and lethargy.

Obviously, if you feel like your cat is experiencing stress, pain, or a medical condition, have them seen by a vet. There is a possibility that they have a treatable issue, and there is also a possibility that your cat is suffering and euthanasia is needed to ease their pain.

white cat purring
Image Credit: AleksDaria, Shutterstock

The Power of the Purr

For a long time, we didn’t know why cats purr when they do. We clearly know that they do it when they’re happy, but why would they do it at other times? It varies significantly between cats, with some cats purring only when happy, and other cats purring during many positive and negative experiences.

Studies on cat purrs have elicited some extremely interesting results, and it may surprise you. When cats purr, they are creating a noise between 25–150 hertz. This specific range has been shown to support the healing of damaged bones and muscles, as well as increase the density of bones. It has been suggested that cats may purr in an effort to heal themselves, oftentimes with minimal energy expenditure. Their purrs may also produce other physiologic outcomes, like reduced blood pressure and stress levels.

You may have noticed that if you have a particularly sensitive cat, they may lay on you when you’re upset and purr. While this is comforting on its own, some people have suggested that your cat may do this in an attempt to extend their healing purr powers to you. This is an excellent bonding opportunity for you and your cat.

cat purring while being pet by owner
Image Credit: catinrocket, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

When cats are dying, it is not uncommon for them to purr, likely in an attempt to heal or relieve discomfort or stress. However, your cat may also purr during death because they are content that you are with them. Our cats are with us through everything, especially if you have a cat that is sensitive to your emotions.

It’s important for us to be with them during their last days and moments so we can return the love and support they’ve given to us throughout their lives. It’s also an opportunity for us to return the healing our cats have offered to us through their purrs by helping them be relieved of their pain and stress while maintaining dignity in death.


Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Brooke Billingsley

Authored by

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping...Read more

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