Cat Sounds and Cat Communication 
What Do They Mean? 

There are thought to be over 30 different cat sounds and they all play an important role in cat behavior and communication. 

The amount of different sounds your own pet makes will depend upon how often they communicate with other cats and with non cats, i.e. humans and dogs.

Yes! Your kitty will try to talk to your dog as well!

Feline sounds can be broken down into three broad groups:

  • Murmurs: made with the mouth closed.
  • Vowel patterns: made as the mouth is closing, ie "meow".
  • Loud intense sounds: made with the mouth open.

Within these groups there are many different cat sounds, some very subtle which we may not naturally pick up on, but the kitten or sexual partner will.

There are general sounds that most cat owners will recognise and broadly speaking their meanings are the same, such as:

  • The Meow - Seeking attention and used to communicate with owners or with kittens (read more on my other page if you are concerned about excessive cat meowing). 
  • The Chatter – indicates excitement or frustration. Often seen when they are looking at birds through a window and can’t get at them (involves rapid jaw movements).

This video illustrates the cat chatter. Please note: Although the caption says chirruping, this is not the chirrup sound, see that further down the page.

The Growl - warns others to stay away.

  • The Mew (of kittens) – used to attract mothers attention usually when they are hungry or cold. 

  • The Hiss – is used as a threat to other cats usually, but can also be a sign of fear. 

  • The Caterwaul – used when looking for a mate.

  • The Purr – a sign of contentment and relaxation, but also used to comfort itself if in pain.

  • The Scream – used when in pain or distressed - Don't tread on that tail again!

  • The Chirrup – this is a friendly sound, often used to greet other cats or their owners.
  • This video illustrates the chirrup sound.

    Cat communication is far more complex than we might realise and involves a lot more than simply your cat meowing or hissing!

    Although vocal sounds play an important role in cat behaviour, cats also use scent and body language to communicate with.

    I hope this page has given you an idea of the variety of different sounds that your kitty might use for different purposes.

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