My cat can't purr right

by Aly
(Orangevale California)

My kitty at feeding time.

My kitty at feeding time.

Its the strangest thing. When I got my cat (Loki) as a kitten, I don't really recall if he purred at all or if it was the same odd purr he has now. He has never showed signs of illness, he just breathes heavily until he is snorting rather then actually purring. I thought maybe once we brought a new kitten in that she would teach him how to purr right, but that failed.

He is roughly 4 years old, and is a mix of ether a tabby or Mainecoon with Siamese. He is terrified of everything, and has been since he left kitten-hood. The vet continuously gives him a clean bill of health. He is up to date on all of his vaccinations.

When my parents picked him up for me, he came from some collectors maintenance man. The collectors basically had a safari. He was one kitten out of about 3-4 litters that the mommy cats all had around the same time.

The only ill health he has ever had was he once got a fox tail sticker caught in his eye, and I took him to the vet immediately to have it taken care of.

So as far as I know, he is healthy. He just purrs funny. I am worried that because he isn't purring properly, maybe he doesn't cope with stress well. Or that it might be the cause of why he is so scared of everything. Any ideas what it may actually be?

Dear Aly,

Thank you for writing in to share your concern about Loki and for sharing the adorable picture.

There are many different types of purring sounds that cats can emit. Each purr can vary from cat to cat. Depending on factors such as the shape of their nose and the formation of the airway, each cat can make different sounds when meowing or purring.

In some cats, the sympathetic nervous system can be highly stimulated when a cat is happy, causing drooling or even snorting. In fact, one of my cats that lives at my cat hospital does something very similar. His purr is more like a growl/snort combination. He is 16 years old and very happy and healthy. I also have a cat at home that is incapable of meowing. When he tries, he lets out more of a squeak than a meow. Again, he is very happy and healthy.

When it comes to the fear, your cat is likely still responding to something from his upbringing. Keep loving him, trying to avoid doing things like moving too quickly that may scare him, and gradually, over time, you will build trust and security with him.

Overall, it sounds as though your Loki is a healthy kitty. Enjoy your adorable kitty and his quirky purring style!

Kindest regards,
Dr. Neely

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