Sorry, but your cat might not be purring because it’s happy to see you

When a purring cat rubs against you, you can't help but feel pleased with yourself for being so lovable. But don't move on from petting that kitty to patting yourself on the back just yet. Happiness isn't the only thing that makes cats purr.

Sure, you might hear purrs when your pet feels relaxed or friendly, but cats also purr when they're hungry, stressed, or in pain. "All behavior depends on history, context and expectation," Tony Buffington, a cat expert and veterinarian at Ohio State University, told Wired. "So it's naive to think that cats can only purr for one reason—it's like thinking that people can only laugh for one reason." Like how some guffaws are a reaction to humor—perhaps a hilarious cartoon cat—while other giggles could come from nerves, cats' purrs are open to interpretation.

RELATED: Meet these Insta-famous cats

Instagram famous cats
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Instagram famous cats
Why so serious?
This was one of the first five photos I took when I got my fancy camera a few years ago. I've taken hundreds of thousands since, and this one still reigns supreme. #lilbub #goodjobbub #yes #bilbobubbins
🙈 #PrincessMonsterTruck Playin' the game an' winning it. 📷 by @joshuasimpsonphoto
Long line a restaurant? Try this face. #tgif
Guess I need to come up with a new name for my musical now since someone decided to steal #Hamilton #mustachecat
*GM! おはにゃ〜今日は21時からAmebaFRESH!の動画放送と22時から櫻井さん有吉さんのアブナイ夜会と観るものたくさんにゃの。 アブナイ夜会で映るのはほんの一瞬だから、見逃さないようにテレビにかじりつくのが大変にゃの… (*-ω-) それまでに色々お仕事や家事やニャルソックが終わるよう頑張ろうにゃ〜! #こむぎのなんとも言えない顔
This is me, excited for Thanksgiving. 😾🦃 @crazyavey
When you wake up to the smell of fresh chicken cooking 😌 #pudgethecat

Mother cats purr to lead their kittens—which are blind and deaf when they're born—to them for food and warmth. In turn, vets believe, kittens purr to show they're okay and help them bond with mama cat.

Purrs release feel-good endorphins, so experts think cats use the vibrations to soothe themselves. That could mean purring while enjoying some cozy cuddles from their owner, or it might help calm their nerves—or literally heal their pain. Studies have found that whole-body vibrations of 35 to 50 Hz could help stimulate bone healing. Cats' purr frequencies range from 25 to 150 Hz, and some suggest the vibrations could help kitties keep their skeletons strong. (Sounds crazy, but even NASA astronauts have used vibration therapy in space, where lack of gravity means no bone-healthy weight-bearing exercise.)

As for purr frequencies go even higher than150 Hz, those serve an entirely different purpose. One study in the journal Current Biology found that when cats were trying to get their owners to feed them, their purr frequency shot up to 220 to 520 Hz—awfully close to the 300 to 600 Hz of a human infant's cry. Researchers suggest the higher frequency makes the sound harder for cat (and baby) parents to ignore.

Bottom line: Not all purrs are created equal. The best way to figure out your cat's message is by looking at what else is going on. At dinnertime, your furry friend might have food on the brain. But a kitty curled up on your lap is probably just enjoying your company.

Related: Scroll through below to see some unlikely best friends:

Cats and dogs sleeping
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Cats and dogs sleeping
A little Beagle puppy is sleeping
Sleeping beagle on sofa
Miniature long haired daschund puppy asleep on bed
Saint Bernards Sleeping
Sleeping dog
Beagle Dog Sleeping
Dog lying on bed, elevated view
Labrador puppy (Canis lupus familiaris) sleeping
Sleeping Poodle puppy
Three Akita Inu puppy dogs sleeping at yellow towel
Usa, New York State, New York City, Portrait of French Bulldog sleeping on sofa
Sleeping Poodle puppy
Puppy sleeping
Pug, pug, sleeping in chair
kitten and puppy sleeping
Dogs and cats sleeping together.
couple of dogs in love sleeping together under the blanket in bed
Caption afternoon animal behavior breed buddy bxx249 canine comfortable companion companionship content contentment couch cozy dogs dog domestic domestic animal dozing enjoyment family dog family pet home horizontal indoors inside labrador labrador retriever lazy leisure lifestyle living room lounging lying down nap naptime pastime pet reclining recreation relaxing rest restful resting sleep sleeping sleepy sofa title-pets & their people together togetherness x collection ?andersen-ross bxp64854 22649362 Dogs Sleeping on the Couch Brand X Pictures (RF) Image #22649362
Sleeping pugs resting in sun.
Cat sleeping
Cat sleeping on the couch.
Cute British shorthair kitten
The kitten which takes a nap
kitten and puppy sleeping
Sleeping Kitten
Cat sleeping on bed
A tabby cat sleeping on a window sill.

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