7 Species That Purr Besides Cats

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on November 1, 2013.

Purring isn’t just for cats. Several other species are also thought to produce the same soothing sound.

Cats may be the best-known purrers — after all, they’re  frequently underfoot. Animal experts believe that cats purr to express pleasure and to soothe themselves when they are stressed or in pain.

Purring is a form of communication — not a reflex, as my dear departed cat Howard demonstrated. When he wanted the attention of someone far away, Howard purred louder. He also turned the up volume at dawn each morning, when he stuck his nose in my sleeping husband’s ear and purred his insistence that it was breakfast time.

Newborn kittens purr to communicate with their mother. They are born deaf and blind, so the vibratory purrs let cat moms locate their kittens.

And being around a purring cat is beneficial for human health. The behavior has been shown to decrease stress — and even strengthen bones.

The healing power of cat purrs

Infographic by: Gemmacourtesy of Visually

It’s not clear whether other species purr for the same reasons as cats, but they are equally nice to listen to! Here are seven species — besides cats — that are known to purr:

1. Gorillas

gorilla

Photo Credit: angela n./Flickr

Gorillas have big purrs that accompany with their size. In this video — well, this photograph with a soundtrack — Koko demonstrates her happy sound:

2. Ring-tailed lemurs

ring-tailed lemur

Photo Credit: Mathias Appel/Flickr

Ring-tailed lemurs — also known as cat lemurs – make a symphony of sounds, “including squeaks, growls, snorts, clicks,” howls and loud yodels. Tame lemurs also purr when stroked, just like cats.

3. Raccoons

Raccoons have lovely, loud purrs, and they’ve got some serious stamina. Watch these two purr for three and a half minutes straight:

4. Rabbits

Rabbits are said to purr out of happiness when petted, but they actually make the sound by chattering their teeth — not by moving air through the glottis as cats do.

5. Guinea pigs

guinea pig

Photo Credit: Andy Miccone/Flickr

Happy guinea pigs purr much like cats. Beware if their purr rises to a high register, though. If the animal seems tense, that sound may signal annoyance.

6. Squirrels

squirrel

Photo Credit: Richard Heyes/Flickr

Squirrel lovers have long known about their rumbly expressions of contentment, though they are very soft. Turn the volume up around 0:24 on this clip to hear a squirrel purr:

7. Elephants

elephants

Photo Credit: snarglebarf/Flickr

At about 0:42 in the video below, listen for a noise like a motor starting. That’s an elephant’s purr!

Scientists say that this rumbling vocalization doesn’t require muscle control, so it is fundamentally different from cat purrs. But, hey, it still sounds great! You can hear more elephant purring by clicking on the second audio file in Time Magazine’s article on the subject.

Photo Credit: Fung0131/Flickr

464 comments

hELEN h
hELEN h17 days ago

tyfs

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Patricia W
Patricia W23 days ago

I've been lucky to have heard a mountain lion and bobcat purr. Just awesome.
They can, along with bobcats, lynxes, cheetahs, caracals, and servals.
That's the difference between the Purring Cats and the Roaring Cats :)

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michela c
michela cabout a month ago

Wow!

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Carole R
Carole R2 months ago

Very interesting but I'll still take my cat's sweet purr.

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Cindy S
Cindy S2 months ago

soooo awesome!!!!!!

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natasha p
Past Member 2 months ago

cool

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Ruth S
Ruth S3 months ago

Thanks.

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R3 months ago

The only wild cats that can purr are cheetahs, lynx, serval, and bobcats.

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Danuta W
Danuta W3 months ago

Thanks for posting.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 months ago

Thanks

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