11 Fascinating Cat Noises and What They Signify

Have you ever wondered what your cat is trying to say? Cat noises come in all kinds of ways, and in this article I'm going to find out what they mean.

There are a lot of interesting cat noises that owners experience.

Cats make a lot of different noises, and they can communicate different things.  It turns out cats have up to 21 different vocalizations [1].  These sounds indicate a variety of things, such as feeding, contentment, or a desire for mating.

I’ve always wanted to be able to translate the cat sounds and figure out what they mean.

My name is Derrick and I write for Simply Cat Care. This website contains easy-to-read articles to help you learn about cats. I spent some time researching these noises and I am going to share my findings in this article.

I am not a vet, but I am interested in cat care, and behavior.  I hope this article is informative for you and helps you understand your cat better.

Let’s look at what will be in this article.

1- Demanding meow (Me – OOOOW)
2 – Pleasant meow (MEEE – ow)
3 – Low pitched meow
4 – Caterwaul
5 – Purr
6 – Trill
7 – Chattering
8 – Chirp
9 – Hiss
10 – Gurgle
11 – Spitting

Now let’s take a look at how your cat talks to you.

1 – Demanding meow (Me – OOOOW)

When a cat makes its ‘meow’ sound it can signify a range of emotions and needs.

A longer and more urgent meow has an emphasis on the ‘OWWW’ [4].  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’ [2, 3].

When a cat doesn’t get what it wants, it will start to exaggerate the OW even longer [5].  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. Called a solitious 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. Check out my article to get more cool facts about purrs.

Also, as an aside, a meow is a purr and a cry mixed together [6].

2 – Pleasant meow (MEEE – ow)

This a shorter, and more punctuated meow.  It brokers attention from the owner [3].

When you take in a kitten, it will start to communicate to you as if you are the mother [5].  The MEE is a possible sign of comfort, for people the cat feels mutual bonding for [5].

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 [6]. 

4 – Caterwaul

This sound is a drawn outcry.  It can indicate aggressive tension between two competing male cats [3].

A female crying out for a mate can emit this sound [1].  The high-pitched meow, grating sound with a howl attracts attention.

5 – Purr

A purr is usually a positive sign of comfort and relaxation [2].  This sound involves the oscillation of the vocal folds [3]. 

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 [8].

As mentioned earlier this is a solitious 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 [2].  It’s also used in periods of deep comfort for the cat [6].

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

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 [7].  It’s a mild form of frustration since they cannot get access to this juicy morsel [1].

If your cat is doing this often and salivating, it might be due to a health problem [7]. If you notice any unusual behavior from your cat, see your vet for assistance.

8 – Chirp

This is a sound, similar to a trill.

It is another sign of contentment when used around a person they have bonded with [7].  It is also a sound used in cat nests, between a kitten and their mothers [1].

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 [5, 1].  The cat will expose its teeth and change its body language [1]. 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 [1].  It is a similar throaty sound to a pigeon [1].

It’s a sign of contentment [1].  Sometimes, my cat makes this sound when relaxed.

11 – Spitting

Not a sound perse, but more of an extension of the hissing sound.

It’s a very intense warning signal [1].  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.

Conclusion

That wraps up this review about cat noises. 

As you can see, there’s a wide range of sounds a cat can make and more to a cat than a plain old ‘meow’. 

Kittens and adult cats communicate in a variety of ways. Generally, they try to get a response from a human or another animal. High-pitched meows and purring communicate excitement for feeding. When a cat is sitting they also purr to relax and heal themselves.

Cats will make a chattering sound if they notice birds outside a window. This seems to indicate tension.

Growls, hissing, and spitting communicate aggression. A spit indicates to a human, other animals, and other cats that the cat is not seeking contact. This cat is in distress, in pain, or is angry.

Cat’s that are seeking a mate will let out a yowl which helps another cat hear them from long range. This is a loud noise that is very distinctive and abrasive to humans.

Take note of the body language of your pet. Their tail, ears, mouth, and body could help you determine exactly what your cat is trying to say.

Cats are trying to communicate a variety of things, and it’s a good idea for owners to understand a little more about these cat noises.

These tips should help you learn slightly more about your cat.

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