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

  • This is an odd little sound which can seem very funny the first time you see your cat chattering away. It generally 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 and as you can see is being carried out at a window.

The Growl

This feline sound is easy to interprete, it simply warns others to stay away. It could be your cat is feeling threatened or simply just wants to be left alone.

It should always be taken seriously. Don't try to approach or touch the cat, leave well alone until they are in a better mood. 

  • 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 _ The Friendliest Cat Sound

  • This is a lovely friendly sound and I love to hear it. It is often used to greet other cats or their owners. It's a great way for the cat to say hello, I like you and would like some attention from you.

  • When it is done to another cat it often means they are not threatened by the other cat and in fact quite likes them.
  • 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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