Do Cats Purr in Their Sleep?

Cats are fascinating creatures, and we all know that they love to purr. But have you ever wondered if cats purr in their sleep? If you’re a curious cat parent, you’ve probably tried observing your feline friend while they snooze, looking for any signs of purring. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of cats and examine whether they purr while sleeping, the reasons behind their purring, and the benefits of this soothing sound for both cats and their owners.

Understanding Cat Purring

Purring is one of the most distinctive behaviors of cats. It’s a low, continuous rumbling sound that originates from the cat’s throat while breathing. Purring is usually associated with contentment and relaxation, but cats also purr when they’re in pain, anxious, or stressed.

Reasons Cats Purr

While the exact reason why cats purr is still unclear, experts believe that purring serves various purposes. One theory is that cats purr to self-soothe and calm themselves down when under stress or in pain. Purring is also thought to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which can provide relief from discomfort or anxiety.

Additionally, some studies suggest that cats purr to heal themselves. The frequency of a cat’s purr, which is usually between 25 and 150 Hertz, has been found to promote bone density and healing of soft tissues. This means that purring may help cats recover from injuries or illnesses faster.

Purring as a Form of Communication

Moreover, cats use purring as a form of communication. They can purr to express contentment and happiness or to signal that they want attention or food. Mother cats also purr to soothe and communicate with their kittens. Interestingly, cats can purr both when inhaling and exhaling, which creates a unique vibrational frequency that attracts attention and can be felt by nearby humans or animals.

Furthermore, the pitch and tone of a cat’s purr can convey different meanings. A high-pitched purr may indicate excitement or anticipation, while a low-pitched purr can signal relaxation or contentment. Some cats also have a special “purr-miaow” that they use to greet their owners or ask for food.

Cat Breeds That Purr More

While all cats can purr, some breeds are more vocal than others. For example, Siamese cats are known for their loud, distinctive purrs, while Persian cats tend to purr more quietly. Maine Coon cats, on the other hand, have a deep, rumbling purr that can be felt throughout their entire body.

In conclusion, purring is a fascinating behavior that serves multiple purposes for cats. Whether they’re expressing contentment, healing themselves, or communicating with their owners, purring is an essential part of a cat’s repertoire of vocalizations.

Sleep Patterns in Cats

Cats are known to be napping experts, and they spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping. However, their sleep patterns differ from humans. Cats have a unique sleep-wake cycle, with periods of deep sleep and shorter periods of light sleep. During the deep sleep stage, cats are completely relaxed, and their breathing slows down. It’s during this stage that we might expect to hear purring.

Interestingly, cats’ sleep patterns are influenced by their natural instincts as predators. In the wild, cats need to conserve their energy for hunting, so they sleep for long periods of time during the day and night. Domesticated cats still retain this instinct, even if they don’t need to hunt for their food.

Different Stages of Sleep

Cats, like humans, have different stages of sleep: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM. During REM sleep, cats’ eyes move underneath their eyelids, indicating that they’re dreaming. Non-REM sleep is a deeper stage of sleep where the body can rest and recuperate. Experts believe that cats might purr during deep sleep as a way to self-soothe and calm themselves down.

It’s important to note that cats’ sleep patterns can be affected by their age, health, and environment. Older cats may sleep more than younger cats, and cats with health issues may have disrupted sleep patterns. Additionally, if a cat’s environment is noisy or stressful, they may have trouble sleeping deeply.

Cat Napping vs. Deep Sleep

It’s not uncommon to see cats dozing off and falling asleep in random places, such as on a windowsill or in a sunbeam. These short periods of sleep are called cat naps, and during this time, cats might not purr. However, when cats are in a deep sleep, they’re more likely to purr. It’s during this stage that the brain is less active, and the body can fully relax, making it an ideal time for cats to purr themselves to sleep.

In conclusion, cats’ sleep patterns are fascinating and unique. From their instinctual need to conserve energy to their self-soothing purrs during deep sleep, cats are truly sleeping experts. So the next time you see your cat dozing off, remember that they’re just following their natural instincts and getting the rest they need to be happy and healthy.

Observing Purring During Sleep

As fascinating as it might be to try and catch your cat purring in their sleep, it’s not always easy to see or hear them doing so. For one, cats are quiet sleepers, and they usually curl up somewhere cozy and cozy down silently. However, there are a few signs to look out for that could indicate if your cat is purring in their sleep.

When cats purr, they might also move their paws or twitch their whiskers. This behavior might be more pronounced when they’re sleeping, as they’re more relaxed and less likely to be disturbed. Additionally, their breathing might become more rhythmic, and they might seem more content and peaceful than usual. It’s a heartwarming sight to see your furry friend in such a state of bliss.

However, it’s worth noting that not all cats purr while sleeping, and if your cat doesn’t, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them. Just like humans, cats have their own unique personalities and ways of expressing themselves.

Factors Affecting Purring in Sleep

Various factors can affect whether cats purr while sleeping, such as their age, health, and temperament. For instance, elderly cats might purr less due to age-related changes, while sick cats might not purr at all if they’re in pain or feeling unwell. Similarly, some cats are just more vocal and purr more frequently than others, regardless of their sleeping state.

It’s also worth noting that cats might purr for reasons other than contentment or relaxation. For example, they might purr when they’re in pain or feeling anxious, as a way to self-soothe. Additionally, mother cats might purr to comfort and calm their kittens.

Overall, observing your cat purring in their sleep can be a delightful experience. It’s a reminder of the deep bond we share with our feline companions and the joy they bring into our lives.

The Science Behind Purring and Sleep

Research has shown a strong link between purring and relaxation. When cats purr, they vibrate at a frequency between 25 and 150 Hz, which can produce a calming effect on their bodies and minds. This vibration can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and promote healing. Moreover, the sound of purring can also have a positive impact on humans, promoting feelings of calmness and well-being.

Research on Cat Purring

One study conducted by The University of Sussex found that the frequencies produced by a cat’s purr can promote bone healing and repair, reduce pain and inflammation, and aid in breathing and lung health. Another study found that people who interact with cats and listen to their purring could reduce their stress levels significantly.

The Connection Between Purring and Relaxation

Additionally, researchers have found that cats’ purring stimulates the release of oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” in both cats and humans. Oxytocin is responsible for promoting feelings of trust, comfort, and social bonding, which is why purring can help strengthen the human-cat bond.

Benefits of Purring for Cats and Their Owners

We’ve seen that cats’ purring can provide various benefits from promoting relaxation and healing to strengthening the human-cat bond. But what about cats themselves? Why do they purr in the first place?

The Healing Power of Purring

Cats purr when they’re content and happy, but they also purr as a self-soothing mechanism. Purring can help cats calm themselves down when under stress or in pain. Furthermore, the vibrations produced by purring can stimulate healing and reduce inflammation, helping cats recover from injuries or illnesses faster.

Strengthening the Human-Cat Bond

Finally, purring can help create a stronger bond between cats and their owners. The calming sound of purring can help cat parents relax, reducing their stress levels and creating positive associations with their feline companions. Moreover, spending time with a purring cat can be a form of therapy in itself, promoting feelings of happiness and well-being.


In conclusion, cats can and do purr in their sleep, but it’s not always easy to detect. Purring is a natural behavior that cats use to communicate, self-soothe, and promote healing and relaxation. Although the exact reason why cats purr is still unknown, we now know that purring has many benefits, both for cats and their owners. So next time you hear your furry friend purring, take a moment to enjoy the soothing sound and appreciate all the good things it can bring into your life.