Do Maine Coons Purr?


The Maine Coon is not like other breeds of cat. It has a personality that sets it apart from the rest and a physical appearance that is second to none. Known as the gentle giant, the Mane Coon is one of the largest domesticated breeds of cats that we can own – they truly are the full package.

It may be the looks that initially captivate the first-time owner but it is the personality of this breed of cat that makes it so special. They are known to ‘talk’ to us in their own, unique language and often a question comes up about what they do when they are happy and whether it is any different to other cats…

Do Maine Coons purr? Yes, Maine Coons purr! They are an extremely vocal breed of cat and communicate with us in many ways, purring being one of them.

Do Maine Coons Purr a lot?

Maine Coons like to talk and one thing you may notice a lot of is meowing at the same time as purring. This combination produces a tuneful trill often used to communicate with people and other household cats. A lot of the time, you may notice your Maine Coon purring to itself out of sheer contentment.

What Exactly Is a Purr?

There is a myth that no-one knows how a cat purrs but this just isn’t true. The process has been studied and the cause is widely known, so let me share it with you. What is a little more difficult to answer is exactly why they purr.

We know it is triggered by the brain and we see the behavior when they’re relaxed, but what actually triggers their brain to activate this behavior is not yet clear.

So, as I said above, the purr is triggered by the feline’s brain which sends messages to the laryngeal muscle (larynx) to vibrate, which it does at a frequency of over 100 oscillations per second.

However, this rate can vary. These oscillations will make the vocal cords of the cat move apart when they either exhale or inhale – and it is this process that causes the purr that we hear. Indeed, when we listen to a cat we can hear it purring when it does just this, not in between.

It is also said that a cat purring is possibly learned when they were a kitten. Initially, the kitten is both blind and deaf but they can feel the vibrations of their mother purring – they then learn to purr themselves.

It’s not just domestic cats that can purr though. For instance, the Cheetah can purr quite nicely for similar reasons to our domesitacated cat. Other big cats, such as Tigers and Lions don’t purr at all.

An interesting fact is that if a cat can purr, it won’t be able to roar and if a cat can roar, it won’t be able to purr, did you know that?

Another point of interest is that although the majority of domesticated cats can purr, not all of them do!

Does A Maine Coon Purr More or Less Than Other Breeds?

The Maine Coon is an extremely vocal cat. It will talk to you. This is an interesting point in itself actually as did you know the vast majority of the time a cat will only use its voice to communicate with us.

It doesn’t use its voice to communicate with another cat. Okay, it may growl if it’s outside but if you have two cats living inside, you’ll know what I mean.

The Maine Coon is more vocal than the majority of other cats however it doesn’t purr any more or any less than others. I would say ours do it more than average but that’s just because we totally spoil them and they are purring most of the time!

Do Maine Coons Only Purr When They Are Happy?

Many people don’t realize that a cat doesn’t just purr when it is happy, although this is by far the most common reason. A cat can purr when it is unwell or when it is feeling particularly anxious, such as when it is in a car on the way to the vets or in unfamiliar territory.

This all becomes interesting when the reason for this purring (whilst they are unwell) is better understood. There have been a few investigations where an association has been found between the frequency of a cat’s purr and a related improvement in the healing of muscles and bones.

It has also been discussed whether purring is a low-energy technique deployed by cats that can stimulate the muscles and bones without loss of much energy.

This is of interest to us humans as astronauts during extended time in space can suffer from bone density and muscle related problems. If we could perhaps utilize the tricks that the feline is able to, perhaps we could come up with a solution. Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn something from a cat’s purr that would help humanity? 🙂

Do Big Cats Purr?

I touched on this earlier, but only the Cheetah, out of all the ‘large cats’ actually purrs – therefore, as we now know, the Cheetah doesn’t roar. But why don’t all cats purr and why can’t they both purr and roar?

It’s all about evolution. The cats that roar today are doing this for their own interests. The hyoid bone that connects the larynx to the tongue is different in big cats as it is in domestic cats.

The large cat’s hyoid is quite inflexible, which allows them to roar but not purr. However, the smaller domestic cat has a hyoid that is quite flexible and this allows it to purr.

The bigger cats need to roar and this is the difference. A Tiger or a Lion just purring would probably not scare many predators away from its pride and territory!

The domestic cat though has no need for this ability and so over many thousands of generations has diverged. Although saying that, wouldn’t it be cool if our Maine Coons could roar?

The Loudest Purr

Our two Maine Coons have pretty loud purrs but this is nothing compared to the loudest officially recorded. The cat with the loudest purr was actually one called Merlin, a British domestic cat who was acquired from a rescue center (maybe that’s why it’s so happy?)

Merlin set a new world record, purring at an incredible 67.8 decibels, which is about the same as your typical vacuum cleaner! Can you imagine that? If you’d like to take a look (or a listen I should say) – check out the below video:

Conclusion – Do Maine Coons purr?

It’s pretty apparent that all domesticated cats purr, primarily because they are content and just feel happy. The Maine Coon is unlike other breeds of cat in this instance as they purr just as much as any other.

If we were talking about the more general communication aspect of feline’s, we could easily discuss why it is that the Maine Coon talks so much! We were driven to write this particular article because our two were so vocal and we wanted to understand exactly why!

Finally, if you’re looking to understand the Maine Coon a little better, why not check out my Complete Guide to the Maine Coon Cat, which includes pretty much everything you would ever want to know about this awesome breed, including some great photos.

Matt

I'm Matt Pettitt, joint founder of the Pets Knowledge Base alongside my wife, Jane. Since I was just 2 years of age I've had pets in my life - which I don't mind admitting is 47 years! I strongly believe that when you introduce a pet into your family you should do everything you can to give it the best life possible. I've learned a lot during the past (almost) five decades and this blog gives me a medium to share everything I have learned ( both good and bad) about pets. If you'd like to know more about us, and how to contact us - take a look at our About page here!

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