Do Maine Coon Cats Purr?
Get to Know This Happy Breed

by: / Author, Mainer, Maine Coon Mama!

Do Maine Coon cats purr? If you've never met one of these gentle giants, you may be surprised to learn that they are extremely sweet and lovable. 

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These kitties are not just big and beautiful; they're also affectionate and loving! They are also very interactive and communicative; and they communicate by being vocal.

Let's explore the fascinating world of Maine Coon cats and answer the question of the day: Do Maine Coon cats purr? Spoiler alert: They do, and it's delightful! 

Their many cat sounds include meowing, yowling and howling, chirping, trilling, and of course marvelous purring!

young playful maine coon.

Purring: The Language of Feline Affection

Let's talk about purring itself. In the feline world, it's usually a cat's way of saying, "Hey, I'm feeling pretty awesome right now!"

It can also mean other things, but this is the most common reason kitties purr. Felines communicate through various vocalizations, and purring is the one that warms our hearts the most.

Why Do Maine Coon Cats Purr? Common Reasons:

Happiness and Contentment: Perhaps the most endearing reason, kitties often purr when they're feeling comfortable and content. When your feline friend is curled up in your lap, a soft purr is their way of telling you they feel safe and happy with you.

Bonding and Social Interaction: They also use purring as a way to strengthen their bonds with humans and other cats. They may be saying something like, "I trust you, and I enjoy your company." It's a special form of feline affection and communication.

Self-Soothing: Cats might also purr when they're stressed or in pain. In these situations, purring can be a form of self-soothing. It's as if they're trying to calm themselves down during challenging moments. This is why they sometimes purr during veterinary exams or whey they are injured.

Communication: Cats use purring to communicate with their kittens. Mother cats often purr to reassure and comfort their babies, creating a sense of security.

purebred tabby with white maine coon cat with huge tail.

About the Mechanism of Purring in Cats: New Science

How do cats actually create those marvelous purring sounds? It's not just a random noise; it's a well-coordinated process!

Up until recently, this is what scientists have been telling us about the process of purring in felines:

Vocal Cords: A special set of vocal cords, also known as vocal folds, are in a cat's larynx, or voice box. When they purr, these vocal folds open and close rapidly as they breathe in and out.

Laryngeal Muscle: The laryngeal muscle controls the tension of the vocal cords. When a cat purrs, this muscle contracts rhythmically, causing the vocal cords to vibrate. These vibrations produce the purring sound that we love.

Hyoid Bone: A U-shaped bone caled the hyoid bone, is located at the base of the tongue, and it also plays a role. It serves as a stabilizer for the laryngeal muscles, so a cat can maintain a consistent purring rhythm.

Cat's Brain: What goes on in a cat's brain when they purr? It turns out, the act of purring is controlled by a complex interplay of neurological signals.

three maine coon magazines

When a Maine Coon cat is content and happy, or experiencing one of the other triggers we mentioned like pain, their brain sends signals to the laryngeal muscle and vocal cords to start purring. 

So, up until recently it was believed that although a cat's meows, screeches and howls came from their voice boxes (just like humans and many other mammals), while their purrs required a more complex set of apparatus as well as constant intention and control by their brain.

But just recently, new insights have come to light about how cats produce that mesmerizing purring sound! A new study led by Austrian voice scientist Christian T. Herbst at the University of Vienna reveals that these muscle contractions mentioned above are not needed.

Rather, during anatomical investigation, scientists have found a unique "pad" within the vocal folds.

They are essentially using their voice at it's lowest possible register, with this pad enabling them to reach the low frequencies of 20-30 Hz, or cycles per second. So the process is actually much simpler than originally thought. 

Have you heard the term vocal fry? It is a mannerism that has become more commonplace in recent years, when someone (usually a young woman) lowers the frequency of her voice, resulting in a croaky or crackly sound toward the end of a sentence. This is often applied to vowel sounds as the voice trails off.

Scientists now understand that a purring cat is doing something remarkably similar to vocal fry. How interesting! They have also noted that this doesn't mean past understanding was completely false, but that more research is needed to get a clearer understanding. [1]

The Maine Coon Cat: A Breed Apart

So, what makes the Maine Coon breed stand out from the crowd when it comes to purring and affection?

Anatomy of the Maine Coon Cat's Vocal Apparatus: Maine Coon cats are not your average-sized felines. They're known as gentle giants among domestic cats for good reason!

Their large size is applies to every part of their body, including their vocal apparatus. 

These large cats have a substantial vocal cord structure, allowing them to produce some of the most distinctive and heart-melting purring sounds you'll ever hear.

So not only do Maine Coon cats purr, they can purr quite loudly! Many Maine Coon cat owners notice that they can easily hear it from across a room and sometimes further! My big boy Leo was always a champion purr-er, and this is something I will always cherish about him.

Possible Evolutionary Reasons for Purring in Maine Coons: But why do Maine Coon cats purr so much? One theory suggests it might be linked to their evolutionary history.

Having originated from the rugged Northeast region of North America, their purring might have served as a form of self-soothing during cold and challenging times.

So, in a way, their purring is a testament to their survival instincts and adaptability. No one really knows, but this is a neat idea.

Maine Coon Personality: The Heart of the Matter

gorgeous tabby with white purebred maine coon.

Why do Maine Coons purr so much and so loudly? It mostly comes down to their outstanding personality. Maine Coon cats aren't just big; they're big-hearted too!

In fact, their breed standard includes traits like friendliness, affection, and sociability.

A breed standard is basically a description of physical and personality traits to expect in a breed. Preservation breeders will strive to keep these traits front and center in generations of purebred Maine Coons. This breed is known for a loving and friendly temperament that just can't be beat.

These affectionate cats will form strong bonds with their human families. They're not an average household cat; they're a distinctive part of the family.

This social temperament means they love to cuddle and be close to their human friends. Maine Coon owners often describe their Coonies as gentle giants with hearts of gold - and loud purrs!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's):

Do Maine Coons like to be petted?

Oh, yes! These are loving, sweet kitties. They purr, cuddle, love to be petted and often seek out a warm lap for affection.

Why does my Maine Coon not purr?

Every feline has a unique personality. Purebred Coonies should be well-adjusted, loving and confident which translates into happy purring. Reasons for not doing so can be varied.

Whether it's a behavioral reason or a health reason, something is holding your kitty back from being relaxed and happy - from letting his or her guard down. Or, once in a while, their personality is more guarded, and it's just the way they are.

Conclusion: Maine Coon Cats: Your Purr-fect Feline Companion

big fluffy maine coon.

In conclusion, if you're thinking about getting a Maine Coon, and wondering if they are affectionate – yes, they are.

These large, loving boys and girls are not only known for their majestic appearance but also for their heartwarming (and loud!) purring. They are terrific with children and other pets, too - loyal, wonderful companions for anyone.

So, do Maine Coon cats purr? Absolutely! And they do it with all the warmth and love you could ever hope for in a feline friend.

Maine Coon cats are the embodiment of domestic cats at their finest – gentle, affectionate, and so lovable. There is so much to love about these cats - the Maine Coon purr is just the beginning!

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[1] Cats purr differently than previously thought. (2023, October 23). ScienceDaily.

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