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


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


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


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


Sophie A
Sophie A2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

HEIKKI R4 months ago

thank you

Anna R
Anna R4 months ago

Thank you

hELEN h4 months ago


Renata B
Renata B5 months ago

I also find a bit uncomfortable to see again and again an animal behaviour/vocalisation or just "being" discussed on the basis of the advantages humans have. It's so self-centred. Animals have their own intrinsic value, and this has nothing to deal with what we can get from them. Again: would you discuss having children showing a table of the advantages people have by having them?

Renata B
Renata B5 months ago

Are we sure that the "purring" has the same meaning for all species? Human words have different meanings in different languages: Spanish burro (donkey) means butter in Italian! I am far from sure that the squirrel is happy and it's very sad to see him in a cage anyway. Some background should have been given maybe.

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

Thank you for sharing

hELEN h6 months ago


Patricia W
Patricia W6 months 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 :)

michela c
michela c7 months ago