The main sounds of cats

Do you know that experts in feline ethology have identified more than 100 sounds of cats? These beautiful animals treasure a vast catalog of sounds to express their well-being, their gratitude, their affection, their nervousness in the face of a possible threat or to prepare for intercourse or for a fight, among other situations.

The meow is, along with the purr, the best known of them all. However, there are many other utterances that kittens accompany with body movements and facial expressions to communicate with those with whom they agree. On this occasion, we are going to stop at the 11 most recurrent cat sounds and their meaning.

Feline sounds that deserve your attention

Can you tell a growl from a snort? Do you know the meaning of a cat’s meow or cackle? We will talk about all of this, and much more, in the next few lines. Can you come with us?

The meow

This sound, universally known, is emitted by opening the mouth and progressively closing it. It can last from a fraction of a second to several seconds and lacks a single unequivocal meaning. Sometimes it can be accompanied by another sound similar to a trill or growl.

Felines use it to communicate with the human family they live with , not with each other. Their communication involves other types of sounds, such as squeaks. Each cat emits its particular meow to express a specific mood, call for attention or urgency.

To know how to identify it, you must pay attention to the tone, frequency and volume of the meow, as well as its body language. For example, if your pet is stressed or upset, you will notice that his ears flattened and his pupils dilate. The meow will be loud and will be followed by a growl.

A meow for every emotion

The more intense the meow, the more emotion you want to express. When faced with pleasant situations, cats usually emit short, high-pitched meows with an ascending intonation. If, on the other hand, the situation is stressful, the meow tends to be long and throaty. As a curiosity, do you know that deaf cats emit very loud meows?


The purr

This rhythmic and vibrating sound is common among wild cats as well. It is of low intensity and they emit it without opening their mouths. It takes place both in pleasant situations, such as kneading your favorite blanket, and in unpleasant and painful situations. In fact, some cats purr when sick or on their deathbed.

It is usual for the cat to purr during childbirth to reassure her puppies and in their first days of life , when they are still blind, to guide them. Some experts equate the purr to the human smile because it is present both in positive situations and in those in which we require the comfort or support of third parties.

The distress call

It resembles the meow but is more acute, prolonged and intense. Kittens less than a month old use it to alert their mother to an emergency or pressing need. For example, take shelter from the cold, eat or request help if they have been trapped under their mother.

The screech

It’s halfway between the meow and the purr. It is barely a second long and its intonation is ascending. They emit it without opening their mouths and adult cats use it to greet each other and their human family. It is also common for female cats and their pups to squeak during lactation and weaning.

The snort

If your kitten feels threatened, for example, because someone else challenges him with a sustained look, it is very likely that he will emit a snort to dissuade him and avoid the fight . It will open its mouth wide to show its fangs and it will force out air. If its duration is less than one second, it is a spit.

Puppies less than 3 weeks old already know how to put them into practice by instinct of survival.

The sexual call

It is an intense and prolonged wail with which both sexes try to attract each other in order to mate. It is very annoying and persistent during heat, which is why many cat owners decide to sterilize their pet. In turn, the effectiveness of this intervention to prevent numerous pathologies has been proven.

Male cats also use it to notify other peers of their presence.

The growl

We continue to increase the intensity of the threat. If the challenge persists, the abused cat will make this high-pitched, low-pitched sound. It can last from a fraction of a second to several seconds. It informs us of the discomfort, anger or stress of the feline . Pretend we know that you don’t want to be disturbed.

If you observe that it utters it incessantly over a certain period of time, you should consult your veterinarian, since it could be a disease that causes pain.

The howl and howl

The last stop on this scale of threat leads us to howl and howl. Follow the growl and, in this case, the cat does not want to calm the waters, quite the opposite. He is summoning the fellow that annoys him to fight. It is a high-pitched, prolonged, high-volume sound . It is very common among strays and unsterilized males.

The screech

Have you ever stepped on your pet’s tail without realizing it? An extremely high-pitched and sudden sound will alert you that you have hurt him. Likewise, it usually indicates the end of mating.

Cackle or chirp

This sound is difficult to describe and unmistakable. It constitutes a sequence of high-pitched sounds, closer to vibrations, that the cat produces while shaking its jaw. It denotes the combination of excitement and frustration, for example, when a prey is sighted through the window but cannot stalk it.

The murmur


It is, along with the purr, the most pleasant cat sound to listen to. Combine the meow with the purr and growl. When a pussycat murmurs , it is thanking us or expressing its satisfaction and well-being.

As you can see, feline language has an infinite number of sound resources to let us know what they feel, what they need or how much they enjoy our company. Would you be able to identify these cat sounds the next time? Leave us your comments.

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