Cat Sounds and What They Mean

August 17, 2020

As adorable and bubbly as they are at times, our feline companions are still highly intelligent, athletic, hunting machines. In their transition from feral to domesticated, the roar of a lion has dwindled down to a meow. However, that tiny meow serves a purpose. 

Since our cats have sort of gotten used to life indoors, they’ve also figured out how to use their voice as a means of letting us know what they’re thinking, how they’re feeling, and what their needs are. 


We all know how much our kitties love to be stroked and pet by the gentle humming sound that it produces. Happiness and comfort aren’t the only reasons that cats purr, though. While scientists are still testing this theory, it is believed that felines emit a low-frequency pitch of 25 to 150 Hertz that discourages osteoporosis.

This could be why cats are able to sleep for 17+ hours a day without losing strength or bone density. Perhaps, it is an evolutionary response to a more sedentary lifestyle. Cat owners may benefit from the sound of purr as well; statistically, they’re less likely to suffer from a stroke!

Chirping & Chattering

You’ve probably seen your kitty click or chatter at birds, squirrels, and other small prey. They might even make a chirping sound toward you every now and again. So, what does it mean? Currently, the most accepted theory is that it could just be their internal predatory hunting instincts kicking in. 

When hunting, felines use a grinding motion to sever the spinal cord of the animal they’ve caught. The prey is dispatched quickly, and the cat can eat without a struggle. Some owners notice that the chattering is accompanied by flicking of the tail or repositioning of the ears.

However, mother cats use clicking as a means of getting the attention of their kittens while on the move. If your cat appears to be chattering toward you, they may just be hungry or wanting to play. 

Yowling vs. Growling

For the most part, growling is a pretty universal sound that we as humans recognize as “stay away.” Cats growl too, and when they do, it’s best not to disturb them. That said, if your kitty appears to be more agitated or grumpy than usual, it could be a signal that they’re in pain or not feeling very well.

Yowling is a bit different and sounds more like a distress call. Think of it as a long, drawn-out, higher-pitched growl. It’s usually not a good sign, especially when coming from a cat that’s typically on the quiet side. Yowls are often a representation of pain, injury, confrontation, or a call for help when felines find themselves stuck in tight places.

Now, keep in mind that it’s not always an indicator of trouble. Siamese cats in particular are extremely vocal about what they want, and they’re not shy about yowling to the top of their lungs to get it! Caterwauling is also used to find potential mates in the area.

Your Kitty is Special

Sure, the sounds that our feline companions make have somewhat of a universal meaning. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have a unique set of meows and yowls that indicate something other than what’s listed here. The only way to know for sure is to spend some time with your cat and observe their “talkative” ways. Who knows, you might be meowing back soon enough!