Eight most common cat sounds explained


Cats are amazing little companions that can lighten anyone’s day. While they can behave weirdly sometimes, I’m sure many people can appreciate just how cute they are. Intelligent and sometimes quite manipulative, cats make wonderful pets. Anyone that has had a cat at one point in time knows that cats learn quickly different vocalisations in order to communicate their needs.  Here are eight most common cat sounds explained:

1. Meowing

Meowing is most commonly associated with cats. It’s true; they meow often, although the frequency depends on the cat. Obviously, some cats meow more often than others. Kittens meow to attract the attention of their mother, but cats also retain this behaviour into adulthood. Cats soon learn that meowing is very effective in getting the attention of humans, so it gets reinforced.  It’s usually a way to express a need that hasn’t been met. For example, your cat might want fresh water in its bowl, so it meows.

2. Trilling

Female cats commonly use this bizarre sound. You could write it down as an interjection like ‘crr’.  It’s somewhat in between a meow and a purr, but more high-pitched. Cats use it as a greeting. A cat that trills is happy with your presence. Female cats also use it when communicating with their kittens.  It’s perhaps a way to get their attention.

3. Purring

This calming sound resonates from the chest of a cat. It’s a low, rumbling sound that cats use when they are content. If you pet a cat and the cat really likes you (and your touch), it will purr. However, it’s also a self-soothing mechanism for cats. They will also purr if they are hurt or stressed out by something.

4. Yowling

A cat in heat will yowl to attract the attention of other cats around the block. Female cats use it to attract tomcats, while male cats might yowl to deter others from wandering through their territory.  If you sterilise your cat, you will not have the displeasure of hearing this prolonged, wailing sound.

5. Chattering

There are cats that don’t make this sound and the reason for that is unknown. Perhaps it’s a special instinct only in some cats.  It’s a sort of chirping sound that some cats make when they get frustrated. If your cat sees birds fly outside or squirrels run past the window, it might start chattering at them. Obviously, it can’t catch them, so it gets frustrating.  Some speculate it might be an instinct to attract potential prey to the cat.

6. Hissing

If a cat has very dilated pupils, a fluffed-up tail and pinned ears to its head, you might want to back off. In about a second the angry cat will hiss and swipe at your hand. Hissing shows that a cat is angry, afraid or otherwise upset. It will attack if not left alone. Make sure to read the body language of any cat you want to interact with. Some cats are anxious by nature and can be more reactive.

7. Growling

This is a tell-tale sign that a cat will soon attack. Territorial cats can use it as a warning and to appear more intimidating. Generally angry cats will growl before using their claws, but that’s not always the case, so be careful.  The temperament of each cat is different.

8. Caterwauling

You need to seriously pay attention if your cat makes this noise. It’s a drawn-out, yowling or wailing noise that shows a cat is in pain or distress.  Sometimes older cats develop dementia-like symptoms and begin caterwauling at night. That’s because they get increasingly more confused by their surroundings and are in great distress.

As such, these are eight most common cat sounds explained. Cats are very vocal creatures, so there are many variations of these particular sounds. All in all, you should pay attention to the noises your pet cat makes, as it might help you understand its needs or wants better.


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