Cats are a pretty self-reliant species, however, they do communicate primarily with their owners, but will communicate with other people in general, when they feel the need to do so. They make an array of different sounds that may not always be understood by even the people they are closest to, and this is often because as an owner, you may be letting your feelings and emotions, at that moment, play a role in interpreting what your cat is trying to tell you. Animal experts spend a lot of time studying animal noises and sounds so that we can better understand what animals are trying to communicate to us, and other animals. Cat experts have honed in on cat communication and they know that there are many different sounds a cat makes, and they all mean different things. Here are seven noises you should be well aware of.
Let’s start with the most obvious, and probably the cutest sound a cat makes. Most people recognize this noise the best and know that it at least means something good; at least the experts think so, and that is, that the cat is happy, or at least, content. Although there has never been an affinitive answer given to why cats purr, experts say that the noise is the result of using the diaphragm, vocal chords and other respiratory structures. The noise is most often heard when a cat is being loved on and comes across as a sign of contentment, or a way of saying, ‘keep scratching me.’ That being said, cats are also known to purr when they are in the stages of dying or are very ill, so it is a confusing sound for experts to pinpoint. Kittens also purr when suckling or nestled up to mom, which is also contentment. However you look at it, most cats will purr more when they are happy and healthy.
Another popular cat noise – meowing. Meowing is typically a noise made when a cat needs something. It’s a way to communicate with their owner how they feel or what they need. A quick meow when entering a room, may mean just a simple, “hello.” Longer meows can mean that she needs something; wanting to be pet, fed, let in a room, or something is annoying or bothering them. The tone of the meow is also an indication if it is a general need needing to be taken care of, or a distressed need. Try to monitor your cats’ meows and see if they have a pattern as to how they meow, what you did to answer their needs and if it worked. This might help you better understand their different types of meows.
A cat’s yowl can often mimic a person’s scream. Yowling is typically a sign of distress, anger, or injury. If a cat fight is about to begin, there may be pre-yowl noises, such as hissing to growling, to yowling. If your cat is injured, all he may do is yowl, so it is important that you see what the situation is, that might be causing the yowling.
Yes, cats can chirp. No one knows exactly why a cat chirps, and some breeds do it more than others, however, chirping tend to be a sound that is more often made when a cat is sitting in front of a window, bird watching. There is thought that cats like the way birds sound and may be imitating them, or it may be part of the pre-pounce ritual they would do if they had access to the birds.
Hissing is that sound no one really likes to hear from a cat because you recognize it as a sign that an aggressive move is about to be made if the situation the cat is dealing with, isn’t deescalated soon. Hissing is a sign of an upset, to angry cat and he wants out of the situation he’s in, whether it is another animal antagonizing him, or a person. When a cat hisses at you, be prepared that he may act further if the situation continues.
Cats growl for similar reasons that they hiss. Growling, however, is a bit more serious and it can mean they are very angry, or maybe even hurting really bad. Growling is typically a noise made to tell you to leave them alone, but if your cat only growls at you when you try to get close to, or touch a specific area on his body, you will want to get him checked by the vet, as this could be a sign of a medical problem or injury.
7. Crying or whining
Yes, like a dog, cats can cry and whine. Typically it is short spells of the sound and more often than not, it is a sign that something is wrong. If you hear your cat whining or crying, you need to check on the situation to make sure it is ok. If your cat is around other cats, sometimes they will cry or whine when there is a spat happening, or about to take place. Crying or whining is associated with a distress call and should be addressed when heard.
The more you know about cat noises, the better you will understand what they mean and what you should do or not do when you hear them. Knowing what sounds they make will help you to better communicate with, and understand your kitty.