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Different Noises Your Cat Makes (And What They Mean)

different cat noises and what they mean

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Today we are talking about cat communication and what your cat noises really mean!

Cat noises can differ according to breeds with some being more chatty than others. Hands up anyone who has meowed at their cat, waiting for a response and when they get it they strike up a conversation? *Raises hand* I am pretty sure my cats understand everything I am saying, they just choose to ignore when I tell them to get out of my seat! However, I have always been fascinated by their cat noises and what they actually mean so here are some of the few I have come across:


The Traditional cat noise, taught to babies everywhere and probably the one your cat uses most. The meow has a cute origin and has evolved in domesticated cats as a way to speak to humans. The meow is used by kittens in the early years to communicate with their mother and as they grow in the wild they no longer need or use it.

However, domestic adult cats meow to humans, in part because we take care of them (we are basically their mothers now) and also because they have learned over time it gets them attention. Particularly if you have had your cat from a kitten.

Therefore it can be hard to pinpoint what a meow means to your specific cat because it’s personal to you. It;s their way of communicating with you, letting you know they want something (including attention) and can be a sign of anything depending on your patterns.

Kitten Mew: 

Sometimes in kittens a mew can signal hunger or upset, particularly if they are lonely so the original meow is shortened to a sad mew.

In Older Cats: 

You may find if you have an older cat that they will meow more. This is because they can get more anxious or struggle with things so they need help and attention more frequently.

Concerning Meows: 

In the event, your cat starts meowing in a long, drawn-out manner it could signal illness or pain. Also, if your cat starts to meow a lot more to get your attention but doesn’t appear satisfied with anything then it could be time to visit the vets.

2. Hiss

You know when enough is enough when your cat starts to hiss. The sound you would make to imitate a snake is the sound that your cat makes when it feels threatened. A hiss is the first step to a fight and is often an indicator to back away from your cat and give it space as it is trying to deal with a situation.

Shy cats have a tendency to also hiss when they are anxious or uncertain. If your cat starts hissing when you are stroking them it could be a sign that they are in discomfort or pain so check for matts or broken skin.

3. Purr

My favourite sound and it is usually one of comfort and relaxation, particularly when having a cuddle! It sounds like a deep rumbling and in most instances shows they are happy and content.

However, if purring is accompanied by a tense body and flat ears, it can sometimes be a sign that your cat is anxious or concerned, so it is important to pay attention to body language as well as these cat nosies.

4. Chirp 

Yes, these are not limited to birds and are usually accompanied by other high-pitched trilling or chirrups. Usually, this is another attention seeking noise, saved for important situations but it can also mean your cat is excited or pleased to see you. I tend to hear chirping right before they are about to be fed!

5. Growl

If your hiss has upgraded to a growl it can be a sign of anger and fear so it is best to give your cat space. Growls are common in both domestic and wild cats and is the universal sign for “leave me alone.” Some cat’s growls are extended into a moo-ing type sound and this is a further warning, particularly at humans.

Growling is also used a lot when dealing with other cats and territorial disputes as a display of strength and warning.

6. Bleating/Chatting

This involves a stuttering sound, usually when cats “talk” to each other. If usually denotes frustration and you’ll hear it often if you are observing them hunting. It usually means they have missed something or the prey is too far away.

Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t “chat” as a mimic of other animals.

7. Calling/Caterwaul

This long, yowling sound is generally only used when a cat is in heat. This specific sound, usually used by females, calls the males to them and lets them know they are ready.

Which Cats Are Chattiest?

I mentioned earlier that some breeds may be more chatty and if you are looking for a kitty for conversation try one of these 7 breeds:

  1. Burmese
  2. Bengal
  3. American Bobtail
  4. Sphynx
  5. Peterbalds
  6. Siamese
  7. Orientals

Hopefully, you now have some more insight into your cat noises, what they mean and it may help with both understanding their behaviour and having a good chat with them next time!

This concludes Day 4 of #CatWeek2017, for the other days check out the Cat Week Home Page.

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