Seven Cat Sounds and What They Mean

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All cats make sounds just like we humans do. And those sounds aren’t just random either. Some might be a cry for help. Others may mean that your cat is hungry. In fact some breeds might “talk” more than other breeds do. And in many cases kittens tend to be more vocal than cats do. There are many different types of cat sounds out there but in this piece you’ll see seven that you ought to recognize. We’d like to thank Lauren Moss over at Mother Nature Network for finding this amazing videos of the sounds as well as descriptions.

Meow

Kittens will meow to their mothers, but as they mature, they typically quit using this sound to communicate with other cats. Often, adult domestic cats that meow do so only in the presence of humans. This is likely an extension of the way kittens use their plaintive meows as a signal. If you have cats, you probably know that not all meows are equal. You might even be able to determine if your cat is happy, angry or demanding food or attention just by listening to the type of meow.

Purr

It’s often assumed that cats make this calming sound when they’re happy, but they purr for many other reasons as well. Purring can signal that a cat feels frightened or threatened and research shows it’s also a form of self-healing.

Chirrup

This trilling sound is a cross between a meow and a purr, and many cat owners say their felines use it as a form of greeting.

Growl

These rumbling sounds are meant as a warning. They can be a response to humans, animals or other cats, and most felines make the noise out of fear, anger or territoriality.

Chatter

This stuttering sound has been described as a cross between a meow and a bleat. It’s typically heard when a feline spots something — often a bird or flying insect — that they can’t reach. It could communicate excitement or frustration.

Hiss

A hiss can be loud or soft depending on the cat and the situation. It’s often the feline response to fear and can be directed at cats or other animals, as well as humans. When a cat is hissing, it’s best to give the animal some space.

Caterwaul

This shrill and wailing noise is the cry of a cat in heat.

If you have a cat, you can interpret what your pets’ meows and other sounds simply by paying attention. Look to see what physical stimulus your cat could be reacting to, and watch your cat’s body language — especially its ears and tail — to determine what emotion or message the animal is trying to convey.

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