If you have a cat, you might already be aware of how vocal our feline friends can be – cats are known to make more than 100 different vocal sounds! But have you ever wondered what your cat is trying to tell you? Becoming familiar with your cat’s vocal pattern will help you understand what they are trying to communicate with you and you will be more in tune with their needs.
It is interesting to note that some cat breeds are much more vocal than others, so this might be something to consider when adding a new cat to your family. Cat breeds such as Persians are known for being particularly quiet while Siamese cats are more likely to have a whole conversation with you.
Being vocal isn’t the only way your cat will try to interact with you – body language is an important part of feline communication. Your cat will also use their tail, ears, facial expressions and body posture to signal what they are feeling. When decoding your cat, it is important to take this into account in addition to the sounds listed below.
Meows are the most common sounds you will hear from your cat. Meowing is interesting because adult cats don’t typically use meowing to communicate with each other and tend to reserve it for communicating with humans. This is thought to be because naturally kittens meow to communicate with their mothers, and while the need to meow disappears in wild cats, domesticated cats see us as their mothers and continue to communicate this way their whole lives.
When your cat meows at you, it could mean a few different things! Lower volume, short meows are usually just a regular greeting – your cat is saying “Hello” to you! If there are a few louder meows in quick succession, this usually means that they are more excited and will often happen when you first get home or when you give them a treat. If the meow is a mid-pitch and more drawn out, your cat might be asking for something – maybe they are looking for some dinner or scratches! Your cat might also produce a chirrup when they are happy or excited, and this is a cross between a meow and a purr.
A purr is a soft, throaty rumbling that your cat makes generally as a sign of comfort and contentment. If your cat is purring while you are petting or scratching them, they are likely enjoying your attention. However, purring can also be used as a tool for your cat to comfort themselves when they are feeling anxious or unwell.
It is thought that chattering occurs when cats are excitedly, or frustratingly, stalking an animal of prey. It sounds like quick bleating meows and often happens when your cat is watching a bird through the window or an insect buzzing above her.
When feeling threatened or scared, some cats will emit a hiss by exhaling a burst of air through their mouths. Hissing often comes with other signs of distress, such as an arched back and flattened ears. Hissing can become louder the more agitated your cat is and some cats spit while hissing as well. Some cats are more likely to hiss than others, and this is generally linked with their comfort levels. If your cat is shyer or distrustful, they might be quicker to hiss in uncomfortable situations.
In addition to hissing, cats also often use growling as a signal to warn away any perceived threats. It is a rumbling that often starts or ends with a louder yowl and can also be paired with flattened ears.
These cat sounds are just a few of the ways your cat might be trying to communicate with the world. It is important to pay attention to your cat’s various vocalizations so that you can have a better understanding of their needs.
Additionally, if there is something wrong with your cat, they will try to communicate this to you and the sounds will likely be different from their usual noises. Regardless of the intent, listening to what your cat is trying to tell you will absolutely be a positive contribution to your relationship.