10 Noises Your Cat Makes—And What They All Mean

Updated on June 23, 2022

Meows, purrs, and hisses are three of the most common sounds that cats make. Cats, on the other hand, have a wide range of vocalizations that they can use to communicate with one another as well as with their owners.

adorable kitten with toys

Short, high pitched meows

The word “meow” can be pronounced in a variety of ways, each with its own distinct connotation.

Adult cats developed meowing as a way to communicate with humans.

Susan Rubin, a cat trainer and expert on feline behavior, believes that kittens only meow to each other in order to be fed by their moms. It’s a brief, high-pitched meow that your cat uses to greet you.” She also mentions that a series of these meows could mean “I’m extremely pleased to meet you!” or “Hey, let’s play!”. Cat owners will enjoy learning these additional 17 interesting facts about their feline companions.

Drawn out meow

According to Rubin, another way your cat tries to catch your attention is by a meow that sounds begging or dragged out. “Please feed me!” “Please let me out!” or “Please pat me!” are all possible interpretations of this one. The best cat food can make your cat happy.

Crying meow

The length of a sobbing meow is more than that of a pleading meow, and the tone is more frantic and pained. “When kittens are in difficulty, they will cry to get the attention of a maternal figure so that they can be found. A pet behaviorist with Chewy.com says, “If they’ve strayed from the nest, she’ll bring them back,” Wailani Sung adds. Be on the lookout for the telltale symptoms that your cat is melancholy.

Quick, aggressive meow

Unlike a yowl (which we’ll get to), this form of meow sounds frantic and even a little bit angry.

He says, “This meow is our cat condemning us for something we did—or perhaps for something we didn’t do—in a harsh-sounding manner.” It’s safe to say that these cuddly felines are significantly more prone to seek out human interaction.


It’s possible that your cat may be in distress if it’s yelping without precedent, says Gary Richter, DVM of Rover, a veterinarian health expert. There are times when a low, drawn-out yowl is a complaint. Excessive yowling is sometimes an indication of cognitive dysfunction or dementia in senior cats.” If you have a cat that hasn’t been neutered or spayed, yowls that are long and loud may be a sign of mating activity, he says. This may be a clue that your “healthy” cat is truly sick if the vocalizing continues for 24 to 36 hours.


According to Rubin, “this noise sounds like air gently exiting through a hole,” which is what the name implies.

A furious or terrified cat makes this sound to warn you that it is about strikeout. Cats make a squeaking noise when they fear their lives are in danger.” It’s a preemptive measure to keep predators at bay before a conflict can begin. The hiss can sometimes be accompanied by a spit cloud.

Growling or snarling

Like hissing, a growl or a snarl from your cat is a warning that they don’t want you to bother them any further.

‘These are aggressive vocalizations,’ adds Dr. Sung. A physical fight will ensue if the other party does not back down.” One of your cat’s 15 tell-tale signals of annoyance is growling.


Purring cats can be seen in abundance. This is a deep, low-pitched rumble.



















You can hear your cat’s squeak from miles away, or it can be so quiet that you can hardly hear it. There may be a vibration when a cat purrs. Purrs are caused by spasms of the diaphragm and throat muscles, according to Mikel Delgado, a cat behavior specialist with Rover. As soon as a cat is content, such as when they are about to be fed or a mother cat is nursing her kittens, they are likely to urinate.

As Sung points out, cats purr when they’re scared or in pain, and also when they’re relaxing. Many people believe that purring is an act of self-comfort and relaxation for cats, but we still don’t know why.


According to Dr. Richter, “trilling lands midway between a purr and a meow.” There’s a good chance this signifies that your cat is overjoyed and/or thrilled. Upon your return from work, they may be anticipating seeing you, wanting to cuddle up with you, or even delighted about the meal you’ve prepared for them.

Chatter or clicking

There are two types of “chatter” that cats create when they encounter birds or other animals outside: the “ack-ack-ack” sound, and the “click-click-click” sound. When cats observe prey they cannot reach — like through a window — she speculates that they may be frustrated or excited. “We don’t fully understand this behavior,” she says. This may be the cat replicating a bird’s “tweets” as a manner of sneaking up on its prey, which has been noticed by certain scientists. Discover the blunders that should never be made by a cat owner.