Cat sounds explained


Different Cat Sounds Explained

Our cats make a variety of sounds, even a simple ‘meow’ can have more than one meaning.  Does a purr always indicate contentment? So I thought I’d take a look at cat sounds and what they mean.

Why Do Cats Meow?

The first sound a kitten will make is a ‘mew’ sound. It is a distress call used to summon its “Kitty meowing” by Algėrds mother.

If you pick a kitten up and remove it from the other kittens you will soon hear a repeated string of ‘mews’. A kitten is unable to make the complete ‘meow’ sound until about 3 months old.

A Cats ‘meow’ is used mainly to communicate with us humans, a cat will rarely use it to communicate with another cat. When your cat is meows several times in a short space of time it’s most likely trying to get your attention. My cats tend to do this when they want feeding. A more prolonged meow may mean your cats is anxious, or possibly in pain.

Generally a cats range of different meows will usually indicate one of these things: I object, I’m in pain, or I want your attention (I want to go out, Let me in, Feed me), I feel anxious, or even as a simple ‘hi there, look at this dead bird I caught for you’

With a new cat, or as a kitten grows up you will learn to recognise what your cats various meows mean. Don’t fall in to the trap of always jumping up and responding to your cat though, your cat will soon realise that meowing gets it what it wants when it wants. It may be prudent to ignore some meows, as long as you know it’s not due to pain or distress of some kind.  

Why Do Cats Purr?

A cat will often purr when it snuggles up on your lap and you stroke its sign that your cat is content, however cats can also purr when nervous or anxious. A cat can also purr to comfort itself when it’s in pain, injured or whilst giving birth.

There are also evolutionary reasons as to why cats purr. Imagine in the wild, a mother cat is nursing her kittens. She doesn’t want the kittens being too noisy and attracting trouble. Her purring reassures the kittens keeping them quiet and making them feel safe. Some scientists believe that a cats purring is a self-healing technique.

Cats can actually heal themselves

Did you know that your bodies bones and muscles grow and repair in a frequency range between 25 and 150 Hertz. You might well be thinking so what, but get this, a cats purring is within that same frequency range, adding credence to the idea of purring being used to self heal.  

Why Do Cats Hiss?

If your cat starts to hiss it is a sure sign it feels threatened. One of my cats will make this sound whenever we visit the vet. As soon as we sit in the waiting room the hissing starts and doesn’t stop until we leave.

If a cat is faced with a dog you might see it arch its back and emit a loud hissing noise, indicating that it feels threatened.  

Why Do Cats Growl?

When a cat makes a growling sound, which may also be accompanied by some hissing its usually saying back off!! An example would be when a tom encroaches on another toms territory. Depending on the situation though, growling can also be a sign of the cat being anxious or afraid.  

Why Do Cats Chatter?

When my cat sits by the window and suddenly spots a bird on the grass she will start to make a rapid chattering sound. Cats are thought to do this either due to the excitement of spotting potential prey or out of the frustration it feels at not being able to get at it. There is also a theory that it’s nothing more than an instinctive reflex action due to the cats anticipation of making the killing bite.  

Why Do Cats Yowl?

The yowl usually is a mating call made by a female cat in heat. You may hear this outside particularly at night when female attempts attract a male. It may be a problem especially if it’s your female cat inside the house at night keeping you awake, however there is one easy remedy, neutering.

As with many of the sounds our cats make, it may also be a sign of pain, distress or simply attention seeking.

As you can see the topic of cat sounds and what they mean isn’t straight forward.  Our cats are all slightly different and use variations of those sounds when communicating with us.  With a new cat or kitten you will soon learn what your cat wants depending on the sounds it makes.

Do any of your cats make any different noises?  How does your cat grab your attention?