Why Does My Cat Make That Sound? What Does it Mean?
Your cat probably makes a variety of sounds.
When you’ve had the same cat for 15 years, you probably know what your kitty is telling you when they meow or make another noise.
But if your cat is new to you, you may have questions about the different sounds they make. And what they are trying to communicate with you.
Noises Your Cat Makes and What They Mean
Cats are pretty good at communicating their wants. They can make a variety of noises.
They might be talking to us to tell us they’re hungry, or they don’t feel good, or that they want to be left alone.
Or they might be hissing or growling to express how angry or scared they are.
It’s up to us to figure out what these different noises mean.
Sounds Your Cat Makes and What it Means
All cats make some type of sound. But they are all individuals and each one can be different. Some are big talkers; others — not so much.
Kittens tend to be noisier than senior cats. And the majority of them will meow less and less as they grow older.
Those that live with humans tend to communicate more than feral ones.
There is some evidence that certain breeds are more talkative than others are too. Burmese and Siamese and breeds of Asian origin are considered to be more talkative than the average breed.
And some folks believe that the typical shorthair is more talkative than the typical longhair.
When your cat is new to you, you should pay attention to the position of their tails, ears and back when they chirp or meow or growl. These physical signs will help you understand what their feelings are.
Why Do Cats Make These Sounds?
Most of the time, a cat will meow, hiss or growl because she is trying to communicate with a human, another cat or maybe even some other type of animal.
The purring action, however, can be brought about by a variety of situations. They can purr when they are happy; they can also purr when they are hurt and they are attempting to soothe themselves.
Common Cat Noises and What They Mean
Meow and Meowing – Why Does My Cat Do It?
Meowing is the most common cat sound.
It is a sort of all-purpose sound that a kitty can make for a variety of reasons.
Some of the time, it is used as a greeting to a human or another cat. But it can also be used as a demand for attention, or to help them get something they want, such as food or to get a door open.
But it can also be used as an objection to something. Like to tell you they think they have been brushed enough and you should stop.
Kittens meow a lot. They do it when they’re cold or hungry, or when they want their Mom or to be comforted.
Kittens have a familiar high-pitched meow. As they grow older, this sound changes. Each cat develops her own collection of meows. Some cats develop a unique meow which often doesn’t even sound like a meow any longer.
Types of Meows
Not all meows mean the same thing. They also don’t sound the same either.
The sound might last from a fraction of a second to several seconds. Often, the more intense the emotion or the urgency of the message, the longer and stronger the meow will be.
A Regular Meow
The typical meows are mid-pitch in tone and mid-length in duration.
This is usually when your kitty wants something. She might want food, attention or to be let into the next room.
A Short Meow
This sound typically occurs when your cat is saying hello to you. It’s a sort of greeting.
It’s often a chirpy and bright sound. It could be accompanied by him rubbing against you or having him stand up on two legs and stretching up to you.
The sound is shorter and more high-pitched. If you walk into a room where your cat is sleeping and wake her up, this is often the noise she makes when she looks at you (and then puts her head down and goes back to sleep).
A Repeated Meow
When your cat repeats a meow over and over, she is excited.
She is excited because you are preparing her dinner or maybe she is just excited to be around you. She is usually happy. This is usually good.
A Longer Extended Meow
This is a full-throated, drawn-out meow, almost a cry or a pleading.
It’s either a forceful call for attention, perhaps to be fed, or they are strongly objecting to something, like being in the vet’s waiting room and being surrounded by other pets.
These long, lower pitch and intense sounds mean your cat wants something specific.
A High-Pitched Yelp
This kind of super-short, high-pitched meow can often be described as more like a yelp. It’s often an exclamation of being hurt or maybe startled.
A Low-Pitched Meow
This is sort of a regular meow, but less excited and lazier.
It’s more of a kitty talking to himself than it is a demand for you to do something.
A Crying Meow
This is a pleading, urgent, distressful and worried sound.
It’s generally associated with kittens or a very worried adult.
Meowing that doesn’t stop could indicate something is wrong. If you hear this, consider calling your veterinarian.
An Aggressive Meow
This isn’t a happy sound, it is a little bit on the angry side.
It sounds somewhat harsh and unpleasant. It’s like she is scolding you for something. If I ever yell a little at my cat, this is the sound she makes at me in return. She is yelling back.
People love the hypnotic and relaxing sound of a cat purring.
A purr is a low, rhythmic throaty rumble they make by contracting the muscles in their throat and chest.
It does not require them to open their mouth. It creates a soft vibration in their little bodies. It sounds comforting. We love it when they purr.
It can be a faint sound or a louder rhythmic rumble you can hear into the next room.
A mother cat will purr to attract her blind kittens. The kittens pick up on the vibrations and gravitate around her.
Most cats will purr when they are content and happy and in a good mood.
When we hear them purr, we assume they are happy.
But they can also purr when they are unhappy, frightened or when they are not feeling well.
It can be a technique they use to calm and comfort themselves. It’s a self-soothing method for them.
Chirping or Trilling
This is a cute sound that is somewhere between a purr and a meow. It’s a pleasant, chirp-like, high-pitched noise.
They can produce this noise without opening their mouths. It’s short — it lasts less than a second.
Some folks call it chirping; others call it trilling.
It is used by the mother cat to get her kittens to pay attention. That’s where they learn it.
Your kitty will trill when it sees you or wants your attention or when she is in a good mood. She also may do it when she greets another household cat.
It usually means he is pleased or excited to be around you, or looking forward to the dinner you are getting ready for him.
Hissing and Spitting
A cat hiss is an unmistakable sound.
Cats will hiss when they are feeling threatened, frightened or very unhappy.
The action and sound may be loud or soft. It typically depends on the gravity of the situation.
A hissing cat is an angry or scared cat. The hiss is usually directed at another cat or animal.
A hiss means they are on the verge of attacking. It is meant to intimidate their perceived threat. It is their last resort before taking action.
When they are hissing, they often assume a fighting position which includes a puffed-out and twitchy tail, an arched back, flat-back ears and an open mouth.
When a cat is hissing aggressively, spit may come out as well, hence the term spitting.
They may also hiss when they are in pain and scared. If your cat is hissing at you for no reason, she may be feeling unwell.
Understanding Cat Language
This is the oddest of cat noises.
It’s a universal sound that most cats will make, no matter where they come from or what background they have.
Chattering is a fairly quiet, stuttering type of clicking sound that is made by your cat’s trembling jaw.
It is almost always reserved for when your cat sees a bird through the window. While they are staring transfixed at the bird, they make this chattering noise.
It seems like it is uncontrollable. They can’t help making the noise.
No one really knows why they do this. Is it simply predatory excitement? Is it frustration from not being able to hunt?
People have tried to come up with reasons for this behavior, but there is no consensus whatsoever on what the answer is.
Yowling and Howling
A yowl or howl is a drawn-out meow.
It can be louder than a typical meow. It’s not a happy sound.
It can indicate a few different things. It could be because your kitty is in distress or is not feeling well. Or he is scared or worried.
It is often a communication with another cat. This communication could be either that they are trying to frighten the other cat off or, on the flip-side, he or she is interested in mating.
A new cat in the neighborhood who is visible through the patio door can trigger this.
Sometimes a cat will howl a little bit if they are bored or lonely. Sometimes elderly cats will begin to yowl if their health is declining.
If yowling becomes excessive in your previously quiet kitty, calling your veterinarian may be a good option in order to rule out a health disorder.
Caterwauling is that drawn-out, mournful, loud cry that female cats make when they are in heat.
These sounds are typically made by cats who have not been spayed or neutered. This wailing call is used by females to announce themselves to all potential mates nearby.
These prolonged desperate moans can carry quite far through the quiet night air.
If these loud moaning calls are heard by males, they will be attracted to the area. They may yowl in response in order to claim their territory or announce their presence. If there are multiple males, fighting may occur.
If the female is outdoors and there is a suitable mate nearby, mating will generally happen.
Cats in distress can also make a wailing caterwauling sound too.
A cat who is disoriented, in pain, fearful, hungry, thirsty or unhealthy can also caterwaul.
Snarling and Growling
Growling is a deep rumbling noise cats make.
It’s a threatening sound that stands as a warning to another cat, a human or some other kind of animal.
A feline will make this noise when it is angry, fearful or feels his territory is being compromised. They may even growl just to let you know they have had enough rough play or petting and want you to knock it off.
Depending on the situation, besides the growls, your cat may have her ears back, her fur puffed up, her tail big and twitching and her back arched up.
Growling may be accompanied by hissing. Your cat may alternate between growling and hissing.
A cat that is growling and hissing is signaling that it is ready to swat and even fight if necessary if her situation does not change quickly.
Screeching of Pain
This is a loud and sudden high-pitched sound, which a cat will make when they are hurt.
It’s a short scream of pain. After making this sound, a cat will generally hurry away and hide in order to recover.
The Sounds a Cat Makes
The longer you have a cat, the better you will be in interpreting the various noises he makes.
You will often be able to understand what he is trying to say to you, and you’ll be able to meet his wants and needs better too.
When you have a new feline, you can pay attention to her ears, tail, posture and overall body language in order to gauge her emotion and decipher what her meows and chirps mean.
You can see how she reacts to her environment, litter box, food, toys, you, other people and other cats.
She’s trying to communicate with you all the time — you just have to figure out what she is trying to say.
What do you think?
Do you have any tips for helping to decipher what your kitty is saying to you?