Curious what message your cat’s trying to send with a soft purr -- or better yet, that guttural meow? The answer might not be as obvious as you think!
Of course, there’s the regular meowing your kitty does all day long -- sent our way as hellos, nudges for petting and playing, and sometimes just for fun. Siamese cats are actually known to be real chatterboxes!
Check out the meaning behind some of these familiar sounds –- beyond the traditional meow -- and take a listen, too!
The Purr: This signature sound is known as a sign of pleasure – and to keep petting, cuddling, and feeding your feline. But cats also often purr after visits to the vet or when they’re injured – leading some scientists to believe that the vibrations of purring help kitties heal. In fact, many agree that the frequency of the vibrations from purring could actually help with bone growth!
Purring can also be a sign that your cat feels nervous or sick, and is trying to calm him or herself down – and other body language can probably help you deduce if this is the cause. Older kitties might also purr to show other cats that they’re friendly – a very nice welcome. Listen here!
The Chirp: Every cat has a favorite windowsill spot for bird-watching, where the inevitable sounds of chirps from your kitty – not the birds – can be heard daily. Chirps (also called chatters) could express a cat’s anxious response to seeing a bird outside – getting excited but then trying to hide it – as well as frustration that the bird is out of reach. Still others think cats are simply mimicking the biting motion they'd use in the wild with predators -- just a reflex. Whatever the motivation, there’s no denying this sound is reserved for the animals running around outside. Listen here!
The Trill: This quick meow has a sense of urgency, and that’s because the trill is your cat’s way of saying “follow me” – something mom cats use to get kittens to follow them. Oftentimes cats will trill to each other as communication, but you probably hear trills mostly around feeding time. As in, follow me to my food dish! Listen here!
The Growl: Though this sound is obviously a sign of anger and irritation, cats also growl when they’re frightened. Growling is definitely an aggressive sound though, so be cautious of kitties making this noise. Listen here!
The Hiss: A cat’s go-to weapon when it feels threatened, the hiss sends a very clear message – “back away.” A warning that kitty feels defensive, the hiss is also designed so the threatening animal feels the air – which is one reason why some cats don’t like when you blow in their face. Listen here!
The Howl: This guttural sound can be a bit jolting – often low-pitched and quite different from the usual meow, it’s most often a sign of anxiety, stress, and mating. Some speculate that cats hope to get attention or go outside by howling, while others suggest that it’s just an indoor cat’s way of expressing boredom – a kitty version of an exasperated sigh. The howl is also quite common in older cats with feline dementia, which warrants a visit to the vet. Listen here!
With a bit of this knowledge at the ready, you can understand your cat’s very distinct and different meows – though there’s no miscommunication when kitty simply wants to sit on your lap for a nice cuddle!