Kitty obviously must be happy, as it is purring up a storm. Maybe; the purr communicates many different cat emotions and not all of them are happy. It is the most common sound made by a cat and the cat’s body language is an indicator of the purr’s meaning. Mother cats purr to their kittens. They are born deaf and blind but feel the vibrations and therefore where she is. They feel safe and secure and once they can hear the mother’s purr it is a very comforting sound. Cats continue to use their purr to sooth and comfort throughout their lives. They purr to themselves when stressed, in pain or near death. They will purr while grooming, or being groomed by, another cat. A purr can mean a cat feels frightened or threatened as well as happy and content. Cats also appear to use the purr as a form of self-healing.
What makes the purr? The cat vibrates the muscles in the larynx causing them to act as a valve for air flowing past the larynx. The air passes through the valve, which opens and closes rapidly creating the purring sound. The sound is made on inhalation and exhalation with a brief pause between breaths.
The meaning of purrs:
Happy and relaxed: Purr accompanied by a slow blink or half-closed sleepy eyes. Kitty appears relaxed with ears pointing up. Ears may point to the side and back when kitty is rubbed under the chin and their neck is extended forward. Kneading and drooling, reminiscent of suckling from mom, may also accompany this purr. That is one very happy kitty.
Expectant: Purr associated with treats, feeding time or similar anticipated attention. Ears up, tail up, watching your every move, pupils possibly dilated; sometimes accompanied by head butting and rubbing its body around furniture and people’s legs.
Unsure: Purring, end of the tail twitching or whole tail moving back and forth slowly. May decide to relax or spring into action.
On the offensive: Purring but with tail lashing side to side, ears flat against the side of its head, dilated pupils. Do not touch!
Sick or injured: Low purr, cat looks lethargic, may be curled up or lying somewhere secluded, ears sideways or back.