11 Fascinating Cat Noises Your Cat Makes

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Why do cats meow? What does it mean when they purr?

Have you ever heard your cat growl, hiss, or chirp?

These are some of the questions answered in this blog post. Learn more about what your feline friend is trying to tell you with these 11 fascinating cat noises!

I am not a veterinarian and I recommend seeking the advice of a vet for any further questions relating to your cat’s health.

11 Fascinating Cat Noises

1. Demanding Meow (Me – Oooow)

Cats use a demanding meow to help their owner or mother feed them.

A longer and more urgent meow has an emphasis on the “OWWW”. The longer meow is useful for demanding actions that require a response. This can range from, “Feed me now” to “I want to go outside”.

When a cat doesn’t get what it wants, it will start to exaggerate the OW even longer. I’ve noticed my cat will inflect the OWW sound as well when he’s very keen on eating.

Cats will start purring if they are hungry and want food.

Did you know that a meow is a purr and a cry mixed together?

Called a solicitous purr, this is where they emit a high-pitched cry mixed with a meow. If you notice a demanding meow combined with purrs then your cat usually wants food.

Learn more:

2. Pleasant Meow (Meee – Ow)

This is a shorter and more punctuated meow.  It is your cat’s way of getting attention.

When you take in a kitten, it will start to communicate to you as if you are the mother

The MEE is a possible sign of comfort, for people the cat feels mutual bonding for.

If your cat is greeting you with a loud but pleasant meow, it is a sign of excitement. They are happy to see you.

3. Low Pitched Meow

Most cats have a higher-pitched meowing sound.

This might be an evolutionarily selected trait.  Pleasant sounding meowers may get preferential treatment at cat shelters, for example.

Wild cats that aren’t domesticated, have lower-pitched meows which aren’t pleasant

4. Caterwaul

This sound is a drawn outcry.  It can indicate aggressive tension between two competing male cats.

A female crying out for a mate can emit this sound.  The high-pitched meow, grating sound with a howl attracts attention.

A caterwaul is one of a few common cat noises
A caterwaul is a sign of a female sounding out a mate

5. Purr

A purr is usually a positive sign of comfort and relaxation

This sound involves the oscillation of the vocal folds. A purr might also be an evolutionarily selected sound.  This is because a purr is a way of seeking attention, without the harshness of a cry.

As mentioned earlier this is a solicitous purr, which helps a kitten to get attention from its parent or owner.  This can be one way a cat builds rapport with you, as opposed to nagging away with meows.

6. Trill

This sound is like the one singers make during vocal practice.

This might show a couple of things:

Mother cats tend to make this vocalization around their young.  It’s also used in periods of deep comfort for the cat.

If your cat trills, it’s a nice gentle sign it accepts you as family.

A happy cat

7. Chattering

A chatter is very distinctive, and unusual.

It’s a non-vocalization sound that sounds like the name suggests; a boney chatter.

This is usually done when inspecting a bird, or other prey, out of a window.  It’s a mild form of frustration since they cannot get access to this juicy morsel.

If your cat is doing this often and salivating, it might be due to a health problem. If you notice any unusual behavior from your cat, see your vet.

8. Chirp

These cat noises sound similar to a trill.

It is another sign of contentment when used around a person they have bonded with

It is also a sound used in cat nests, between a kitten and their mothers.

A cat chirping

9. Hiss

Most people would be familiar with this, it’s distinctive and abrasive.  It’s a forceful “ccccaaaa” sound.

Cats will make this when threatened, or when vying for territory

The cat will expose its teeth and change its body language. If you notice these physical signs then your feline is not seeking contact. 

“Stay away from me” is what the cat is saying.

10. Gurgle

This sound is a short, low, and atonal sound that has staccato qualities.  It is a similar throaty sound to a pigeon.

The gurgle cat noises are a sign of contentment

Sometimes, my cat makes this sound when relaxed.

11. Spitting

This is a very intense warning signal.  If the cat was saying “Stay away from me” with a hiss; this sound means “Stay away from me right now or else“. 

Do not disturb this cat. Does a cat spitting deter a predator?

Predators of cats know they hold a valuable weapon in their teeth, and if a cat spits at the face of a predator they will usually back off.


Cats make a lot of different noises beyond the bog standard ‘meow’. Even that can mean a range of things, including seeking attention or food.

We hope that this guide was able to help you demystify the sounds your cat makes.

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I'm qualified dietitian that's turned their attention to cat nutrition. My goal is to help tease out the science on how best to feed your cat.