What is Cat Growling and What Can You Do About It?

Like most animals, cats make a wide range of different noises. These are used to communicate with other cats, react to a situation, warn away a competitor, attract a mate, or to express their feelings. Understanding the different noises that cats make and why they make them is complex. It involves observing the cat’s behavior to link it to the noises they make in each situation. If you are a cat owner, you will probably have noticed that your cat occasionally makes a growling noise. This type of noise is more typically associated with dogs, so it may seem confusing as to why your cat is growling. Here is what you need to know about cat growling.

What Does a Cat Growling Sound Like?

The sound of a cat growl can differ from one cat to the next and the way that people describe this noise varies greatly. Some people would say that it is a deep rumbling noise that they make in their throat by passing air through the vocal folds. Some cats follow a growl with a hiss.

What Causes a Cat to Growl?

  • There is a huge list of reasons why a cat may growl but it is generally an indication that they are unhappy about something. If a cat has a nervous disposition, then anything new can make them growl. This can be something new in the house, strangers, unknown cats, or strange noises.
  • Another reason why cats growl is to give a warning to either another cat or a human. They are basically saying that they need you to back off. When they do not want someone in their space or they do not want you to touch them, a growl is their way of communicating this.
  • Growling is also an expression of possession. If they think another cat is going to steal their food or enter their territory, growling is a means of saying that something is theirs and that they do not want anyone else near their space, food, or possessions. In this sense, growling is an indication of anger.
  • There is also a phenomenon where cats who live in the same house will growl at each other in response to an unknown smell on the other cat. For example, if you take one vet to the cats and then bring them home, the other cat may growl on their return. This is because the cat smells like the vets rather than of the usual smell that your other cats will recognize.

Do Cats Growl in Pain?

Cat owners often wonder if their cat is growling as a reaction to pain. While this is not always the cause of growling, it is possible that the reason your cat is growling is that they are in pain and they are letting you know. When your cat is hurting and does not want stroking or picking up, growling is one of the ways that your cat can express this to you.

It is also worth noting that some underlying medical conditions can lead to cats growling. If your cat suddenly starts to growl when it was something they rarely did before, then it is possible that a health condition is the reason. With this in mind, it is always best to get the cat checked out by a vet if they suddenly begin growling or are growling more excessively than usual.

How Should You Respond to Cat Growling?

Cat owners often wonder how they should react when their cat growls at them. The best action to take is to keep your distance. In most cases, a growl is given as a warning and they are telling you they are unhappy. Proceeding towards a growling cat may anger it further and it could scratch or bite in what it perceives as self-defense.

Why Do Some Cats Growl a Lot?

Just like humans, cats have different personalities. Some are sociable, friendly, and loving, while others are grumpy, solitary, and timid. The fact that some cats growl more than others is often simply a reflection of their personalities. Some cats are easily confused, scared, annoyed, or frustrated and the way in which they respond to these situations or feelings is to growl. If excessive growling is an issue, you may find that working with an animal behavioralist may help.


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