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  • 12 Cat Sounds and Their Meaning

12 Cat Sounds and Their Meaning

Most people think all those purrs, meows, yowls, and chirps are gibberish cat sounds. But, your cat is telling with cat meow sounds you how it feels about you, about its day, or their thoughts on what is going on in the world around them. By listening, you understand the different meanings of each sound.

Cats come in second, only to birds, with their wide vocalization range found in domestic animals. Well known for cat purring, cat meow, growls, and hisses, cat sounds are more comprehensive. By listening, understanding these cat sounds becomes easy. A feline friend makes distinct cat sounds for the situations they find themselves. Each cat meow, cat purring, hiss, or yowl, is based on the circumstances or situation the cat finds himself in. You’ll hear different sounds and tones for fear, anger, worry, and contentment.

12 Cat Sounds Explained

Window starringChatters

Chattering is a predatory sign of excitement. You may see cats looking out the window at birds or squirrels while they squeak and chirp, or faintly cry. This behavior in indoor cats is a sign of stress because they can’t get to their prey. People think the chattering mimics a rodent or bird, calling the target closer. The fact is, a cat’s hunting skills need stealth for quietly coming up on their prey before pouncing.

Cat Meow Sound

The most common sound you will hear are cats meowing. In adult cats, this form of communication is used only with humans. Young cat meow at their mothers, but this vocalization with other cats disappears in the wild, as the kittens mature and are less dependent on the mother cat.

With domestication, the cats meowing continues into adulthood forming into a cat and human communication. Cats see themselves their human’s offspring and keep this vocalization going all their lives. When a cat meows, they want attention, food, or they are just telling you they are glad you’re home. There may be also a reason why your cats are constantly meowing.

Lonely, confused or ill cats meow. Older cats senses fail, and like humans, they become confused or irritated at their inability to move around the way they did earlier in life. A young cat meow turn into the interrogative mew if hungry or lonely. As their mood changes, the meow goes into rapid-fire mode, demanding your attention.

Some meows sound pitiful in a long and plaintive way and might mean your cat is depressed, worried, annoyed, or objecting to something. A relentless meow is a possible sign of injury or illness. If this continues, consider a veterinarian visit.

12 Cat Sounds and Their MeaningCat Purring

A sound cat parents enjoy most. A cat purr is a soothing, soft, and hypnotic sound, coming from inside your cat. This rumble is deep and throaty, telling you with cat purring they’re in a great mood. Humans love a lap full contented, purring cat.

While cat purring is the usual sign of a happy cat, occasionally cats purr when upset or agitated. It’s a nervous reaction expressing worry, and this anxiety shows in body posture. Agitation shows in a tense body with ears laid back, and a rumbling purr announcing their concern about the situation.


This sound is like a bird and learned during kitten hood. Chirps or trills is a sign of happiness or excitement and is a cat’s way of getting their owner’s attention when they want them to look at something. Mother cats use these happy and declarative chirps, telling their kittens they want their attention and they need to follow behind her.


With this sound, the meaning is loud and clear. The sizzling sound means a cat percieves a threat and ready for a fight. Anything entering their personal space, uninvited, gets greeted with hissing and a showing of claws.

Along with sounds of aggression comes cat body language, including mouth open showing fangs, laid back ears, twitching tail, hair puffed out, and the back arched. The cat appears serpent-like with these cat postures with a spitting sound occurring alongside the hiss. If your cat displays these gestures, it’s best to back away and remove whatever the cat perceives as a threat.

Hisses convey what each cat perceives as a threat and what their comfort level is with that perception. Some cats are friendly and outgoing by nature, and you rarely hear them hiss. A shy and reserved cat resorts to hissing when the situation confuses them while feral cats hiss much more than a house cat does.


Possible Illness - Is your cat sick?An unspayed female cat living outdoors draws male cats to her by cat scent and cat sounds. As mating occurs, the female takes a submissive position with her head down and rear up in the air. A male holds on to the female by biting the neck while mating with her. The male has a penis with barbs on it, and removing the penis is painful, eliciting a loud scream from the female. Cure this behavior by having your cat sterilized.

When cats fight they scream, shriek and yowl, along with biting and swatting at their opponent. Fighting is common in unsterilized cats, but it also occurs in fixed cats as they argue over territory domain. Keep cats indoors and help avoid injury from fighting.


A yowl is miles different from the happy cat meow. A long, drawn-out moaning sound conveying discomfort, worry, mating calls, or territorial warnings, is a communication between cats.

Cat illness is another reason for yowling, or confusion from age causing a decline in usual functions. People adopting older cats, sometimes hear this cry of regret as their new family member tries to adjust to losing its previous home. When a cat uncharacteristically yowls, look for illness, and make an appointment with the vet. Male cats yowl if an unspayed female cat is coming into heat. For the health of the cat and your peace of mind, get your cat sterilized. Cats sometimes yowl out of boredom. Have enough toys, and interact with your cat regularly. Sometimes, soothing a yowling cat only takes a little extra attention from you every day.

Why are cats meowing all the time?Caterwauls

An in season female caterwauls to advertise for a new mate. This is hollow sounding and happens when a female in heat wants outside with the males. When a female cat is in heat, most likely you have males outside fighting and yowling for a chance at the female inside the house.

Growls and Snarls

Anger, fear, and territorial stand-offs, come with random hisses, growls, and snarls. These cat sounds, with a high pitch, show a perceived threat or fear over another cat in the territory. This sound accompanies a defensive posture with the back arched, ears laid back, fur standing out, and a twitching tail. Unless the cat is in danger, leave him to work things out.

Are you interested in the meaning behind the cat sounds?

I published more in-depth articles about all the meowing and purring and the meaning behind these sounds. Did you know that you should talk to your cat on a daily basis?


Some cat breeds talk more and have more cat sounds than other breeds. A short-haired breed, by nature, talks more than the long-haired breeds. If you like having conversations with your cat, Asian breeds are for you. Keep in mind; talkativeness doesn’t always follow the norm. You can always have a quiet Siamese or a talkative Persian.

Vocal, Talkative Breeds

Non-Talkative, Quiet Breeds

Predicting your cat’s mood or understanding what they want is easy if you know what they are saying with their cat sounds. Whether mad or happy, sick or playful, hungry or lonely, you can meet their needs by understanding their language.

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