Did you know that cats have their very own language? Experts have even suggested that they’re capable of making over 100 unique sounds in total, and each and every one of those sounds has a meaning and purpose behind it. Cats can make sounds to interact with one another, but also with their humans to try to get your attention or let you know that they’re hungry, tired, or even in pain.
In order to better understand your cat and develop a strong feline friendship with your furry buddy, it can help a lot to understand some of the many cat sounds out there and know what they mean. Read on to learn all about some of the most common (and a few less common) cat sounds so you know exactly what your cat is trying to tell you the next time they meow, purr, or howl.
The meow is the classic cat noise we all know and love. Okay, maybe we don’t love it quite as much at 4am, but it’s still a sweet sound and it’s the main way for cats to communicate with their owners. Interestingly, cats don’t really meow at each other most of the time, especially when they get older.
It’s important to understand, however, that every meow is different. Meows of different lengths, pitches, and volumes can all mean different things, so you should never assume that your cat is always trying to say the same thing with each and every meow.
2) Short Meow
A short and simple meow is often used as a greeting for cats. This is probably the sound you’ll hear when you first see your cat in the morning or when arriving home after a working day. They’ll often repeat it too like if you leave the room to go to the toilet and come back, you might get a little meow to say ‘Hi’.
3) Multiple Meows Back To Back
If your cat seems to be giving you lots of little meows all in a row, it’s a sign that they’re happy and excited to see you. Maybe you just got back from a trip and haven’t seen your cat in a while and they’re giving you lots of little chatter to show how happy they are. It can also be a way for cats to attract your attention.
4) Long Meow
A long and drawn-out meow is different from the standard, short meow. You can clearly hear the difference, and you’ll probably also notice the cat looking up at you or nudging into you as it does this to try and get your attention. It basically means that the cat wants something. Maybe a little food, maybe just some playtime or cuddles. Either way, they want you to do something.
5) Loud Repeated Meow
If your cat is making loud meows, again and again, it’s because they really want your attention, and this could be for a variety of reasons. They might, for example, have gotten stuck somewhere in the home while wandering around and sneaking into little spaces, or they might just be really hungry, bored, or in need of the toilet and really want to be let outside.
6) Low Pitch Meow
A low pitch meow always seems to sound a little sadder than a standard meow, and it does actually denote that the cat isn’t too happy. Maybe you didn’t give them the food they wanted or didn’t play with them long enough. In this case, you’ll get a low meow as a way for the cat to say “I’m not satisfied.”
7) Mid Pitch Meow
The mid-pitch meow is yet another meow that the cat can use when it wants something. Often, you might hear this meow when you’re preparing some food for the cat and it starts getting impatient to eat. It’s a relatively mild meow, but if you don’t attend to the cat’s needs quickly, it will start getting louder or higher pitched quickly.
8) High Pitch Meow
If you hear a high pitched meow, it might be time to worry a little bit. This either means that the cat is angry, upset, or even potentially in pain. You might hear a high pitched meow if you accidentally step on a cat’s tail, for instance. You might also hear this meow while the cat uses its litter box, and it could indicate that the cat is having trouble using the bathroom.
If you have a cute little meow, you’re probably the owner of a super-cute kitten. It’s only baby cats that tend to make this sound, and they use it as a way of communicating with their mothers or owners when they feel hungry or in need of attention.
A beep is almost like half a meow. It’s just a very short and simple sound that a cat will make if you have bothered them, got in their way, or if they just want to be left alone in general.
As well as the classic meow and purr, cats can ‘chirr’ too. Chirrs are a family of cat sounds that include everything from chirping to trilling. They can have a huge variety of meanings, but as with most cat sounds, the number one rule when you hear any kind of chirr is to pay attention to your cat and monitor their behavior to see what they might be trying to tell you.
Like the beep, the chirp is also a very short sound, but it’s very high pitched and noticeable, almost like a tweeting bird. There could be a variety of reasons behind a cat’s chirping. Often, they’ll use it to get your attention because they want to show you something, and they’ll often want you to follow them or get down to their level to see what they found.
A trill almost sounds like a rolled R-sound, and it’s something that mama cats use to communicate with their babies. It’s a cute sound and a positive one too, but quite rare to hear in older cats. A trilling sound is often just like a classic meow greeting; it’s a way for the cat to say hello, but in an even more friendly and affectionate way than normal.
There’s usually only one situation in which you’ll hear a cat chatter. It’s when they’re sitting beside the window and looking out at a bird nearby. The sound they make almost makes it seem like they’re trying to imitate a birdcall with a mixture of tweets and meows.
Experts believe that this is a way for cats to express their anticipation ahead of a hunt, as they only ever seem to chatter when potential prey are in the area.
The purr is one of the loveliest cat sounds to hear for both you and your cat, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about how purrs work. Many people automatically assume that a purring cat is a happy cat, and this is often the case, but there are situations when you might hear a cat purring to indicate fear or anxiousness.
In most cases, however, a cat will purr when being petted or cuddled. They’ll often sit on your lap or snuggle by your feet and can purr continuously for a very long time. It’s like a little rumbling sound, and scientists have been exploring the meaning behind purring for many years. Some think that the low-frequency vibrations caused by purring can help a cat heal and feel comfortable.
A burble sound is similar in style to the chatter you might hear when a cat is bird-watching, but it’s a little more growl-like. Despite sounding a little worrying, it’s not actually a bad sound to hear. It often means that the cat is content, and you’ll usually hear burbling sounds interspersed with other little meows and chirps.
Calls are another family of cat sounds that are only really used when communicating with other cats. You won’t usually hear a cat call aimed at you, as these sounds are usually used by cats during mating rituals to let others know that they’re ready to mate.
A yowl is quite an angry sound, but it’s not usually directed at humans. It’s more a way of one cat saying to another “This is my turf!” You may, however, hear a cat yowling around the home to indicate pain or discomfort, and it’s definitely a warning sign if you start hearing repeated yowls from your furry feline.
Not a pleasant sound to hear, a caterwaul is a very long, drawn-out sound that only female cats produce. They make this sound when in heat to call out to any male cats in the area. If your female cat is caterwauling, you may want to consider getting her spayed for her own good.
As you might imagine, a scream is not a good sound to hear, but it’s a natural part of the feline mating process. When cats finish mating, the female can often let out a loud scream as the process is quite painful for her. Cats can also scream in the middle of fights or when in severe pain, just like people.
Dogs are often the ones who do more growling than cats, but it’s not impossible to hear a cat growl either. They usually make this noise when they’re scared, angry, or getting ready to fight. It’s a way of telling people or other animals to back off, and you’ll often see the cat’s hair raise up at the same time to try and make itself look bigger and more threatening too.
Snarls usually come after growls, so if your cat has been growling for a while and the person or animal bothering it hasn’t gotten the message, a snarl might be next in line. This sound is like a louder growl and is often accompanied by a couple of paw swipes. Again, the cat is trying to say “Leave me alone” with this sound.
A hiss is also a negative, angry sound that usually comes in conjunction with growls and snarls. It’s a very snake-like sound and is a way for the cat to try and scare away the person or animal that is bothering it so badly.
Spitting is the most extreme angry sound you can hear from a cat. It’s like a hiss, but even more intense, as the cat bares its fangs, arches its back, and gets ready for a fight.
A snort can be heard when a cat exhales very quickly and sharply. It’s a little warning sign to any potential predators or threats in the area, and it’s a clear sign that the cat isn’t feeling totally comfortable at that moment. If the threat persists, the cat may progress from snorting to growling and snarling.
A grunt is like a low, angry, rumbling sound from a cat and is also a sign that your feline friend is feeling a little stressed out and uncomfortable at that moment in time.
They probably just want to be left alone, and you might hear your cat grunting and grumbling at the vet when it starts to feel bothered by all the poking and prodding. However, if you notice your cat grunting a lot at home, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
Cackling is like a high pitched, vibrating sound made by cats at seemingly random times. It’s a bit of a mysterious sound, and even cat experts aren’t sure exactly what it means. Sometimes, a cackling cat can appear to be excited and joyful. Other times, it might be a sign of frustration. Be sure to pay attention to your cat when it makes odd sounds to try and look for other signs of how it may be feeling.
A cat murmur is a rare sound. It’s like a mixture of purring and grunting all at once, and it’s a very pleasant sound to listen to. It’s also a great sign for your cat, as it’s a way for them to show gratitude and happiness after being fed or cuddled.
29) Purr With Ears Back
This is one of the times when a purr isn’t such a good sound to hear. If you see a cat purring with its ears back and its body looking a little tense, it might be feeling a little worried or stressed out.
Many first time cat owners can worry when they hear their cat making a coughing-like sound. Usually, when a cat is ‘coughing’, you’ll see them close to the ground, moving their head left and right and looking a little ill, but it’s actually nothing to worry about most of the time. This sound basically means that the cat has a hairball, and that’s why you’ll usually only hear it after the cat has been grooming itself.
And there you have it: a comprehensive guide to the many cat sounds your furry friend might make from time to time. Knowing these sounds and understanding their meanings can really help you develop a stronger bond with your cat, helping you learn when they’re happy, when they want some attention, when they’re in pain, and when they want to be left alone.
Above all else, it’s vital to pay close attention to your cat whenever you hear them making a sound. Monitor their behavior and body language to learn more about how they’re feeling, and don’t be afraid to consult your vet if you hear your cat making strange sounds on a repeated basis, as this could be a sign of some kind of health issue.