I've just read this article and I must confess I'm surprised to know that cats can purr when in pain. I never saw a cat doing that if she is feeling bad. Have you? When does your cat purr? Only when happy or not?
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One of my first cats was mangled pretty bad by a speeding car (he was fine after a few months, but he probably had a 50/50 titanium to bone-ratio after the operation hehe) and I remember very well how he behaved right after the accident. We found him in the street, purring.

To me purring is a universal "I need you"-signal that a cat not only sends out when it's happy or feels like being cuddled, but also when it needs your help. I've found that they do it when they are completely helpless, for example if they're stuck somewhere, or when they're badly hurt. I don't know how an injured cat will react to a stranger though.

It is, of course, also possible that a cat that is seriously hurt is so dazed by their natural anesthetics that they're literally "high" and actually feel good in a way. The same thing does happen from time to time with people who suffer extreme physical trauma. You know, the "Sergeant, I can't feel my legs"-clichè.

Interesting stuff!

Edit: Some people claim that cats will purr to comfort themselves when in pain, and likely in other situations of great stress or trauma.. so there's another theory for you Emotion: smile
Oh it's really sad to read about the accident... I'm glad he was fine after a while!
So purring is not necessarily an expression of happiness... it seems I have to expand my knowledge about cats."I need you" signal sounds most explanatory. Apparently, kittens purring to their mom also tell her "I need you", and she replies them back. Emotion: smile

Thanks for sharing your experience!
Omnia, to be honest, it was a bit of surprise for me, too. I never saw our cat purring when in pain. Or maybe (fortunately) we haven't had such moments? Yeah cats are full of mystery... Isn't it weird that people still argue about how cats purr?! Emotion: big smile

Veanova, I'm sorry to hear about that bad accident. This is a terrible thing to go through... but all is well that ends well, so thanks for the quick mention the cat was fine in a while! Emotion: smile Maybe the fear of such accidents has been restraining us from letting our cat walk outside... too many crazy and careless people out there!
ElwingIsn't it weird that people still argue about how cats purr?!
Yes it is in a way. Cats have been around humans since Egypt times but it seems there are still so many mysteries about them.
it is absilutely true that they purr when not feeling very good. i remember my cat purring when we were visiting a vet and some injections had to me made. apparently that was because of a stress.
this is interesting news! i was not aware of this thingie. its a cool forum yeah. more to discover about cats!
Hey Everyone,

I have read most of the posts here about purring, and I cannot say I've had the same experiences with my cat.

My cat has been once very sick, eventually having to spend five days in the vet when my home efforts instructed by the vet failed. She was one sick baby. She had Hepatic Lypidosis (for those who know what that is). She was feeling very very badly. She NEVER ONCE purred during these times. I remember her trying to purr when I pet her while she was corning herself in the kitchen corner to isolate.

Then while in the hospital on day three, I managed to talk her into hobbling onto my lap from the second floor vet cage (I was sitting on a high stool). When I started petting her she started to purr.

My little sweetheart doesn't purr when she's not feeling well. She purrs when she is filled with love and when she feels safe.
Hey Ems,

I'm sorry that your cat had to pass through that. You're talking about Clementine, aren't you? Perhaps, every cat is different showing its feelings and emotions. I do believe the stories about cats purring in pain, but I must also say that I've never seen my cat do that.
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