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Cats Meow Decoded: 7 Fascinating Meanings of the Sounds Cats Make

July 16, 2021

Just like any creature on this planet, the sounds your cat makes are not nonsense. A cats meows, purrs, and yowls are enough to tell what they need.

Understanding and learning the meaning of the sounds your cats make will surely be useful for both of you! A domesticated feline, like your cat, packs a wide range of vocalizations. This list tackles the most common sounds, from meows to purrs. 

Their vocal repertoire is wide, and they can make a variety of distinct expressions. It can be just the standard cat’s meow, but these can be varied or combined sometimes. It can mean hunger or distress, while others show happiness and delight. However it may be, all of them indicate the emotional condition of your cat.

Cats Meow Decoded 7 Fascinating Meanings of the Sounds Cats Make
Get to know the meaning of the sounds your feline friends make. Understand the difference between a cats meow, purr, howl, and many more!

Different types of cat sounds

There are more than 100 distinctive cat noises. Let’s talk about the most common sounds and what they mean.

Cats Meow

The most common sound your cat makes is the standard cat’s meow. Cats often do this to demand attention. Kittens will meow a lot when they are hungry, want attention, or looking for their mom.

But did you know that your cat uses their meows to communicate with you more than their feline friends? When they want milk or even litter box maintenance, you will definitely hear them meow!

Sometimes, meows can indicate unhappiness and is a way for your kitty to tell you that they might be hurt. A cat’s meow can differ depending on its age. Mostly because of their age, an adult cat can feel uneasy knowing that they are not that nimble anymore. 

On the other hand, younger felines meow to tell you, “hey, feed me!”. A cat’s meow also has different meanings when uttered frequently. When your cat meows repeatedly, you better get them! They need your attention.

If your cat’s meow sounds like a wolf howling under the moon, this signifies that they are in a gloomy emotional state (yowl). It can be anxiety, worry, or possible injury. If you think your cat might be hurt, don’t hesitate to bring them to a vet. We will discuss more about yowling later. 


Try this, softly massage your cat as they nestle in your lap. Your kitty will surely purr! This sound can lift your mood when heard, a soft but deep vibrating sound that signifies happiness and enjoyment. Your cat is vibing great when they make this sound. Your fur baby is feeling comfortable and loved. 

Sometimes, however, purring can be a sign of agitation. Similar to us when we nervously wait to meet our in-laws for dinner. You whistle and hum nervously, tapping your feet, thinking, “the suspense is killing me.” 

How to tell the difference? As your cat purrs, observe its body posture. They’re probably purring out of pure contentment unless they’re tense or have their ears back. 


Some say that when a cat chatters their teeth, they are ready to grab and snatch prey. Like when they’re sitting behind your window on a hot summer day and suddenly they see a bird outside. Your fur baby is definitely excited! 

Chattering can be combined with a squeak or a short cry, known as predatory enthusiasm, linked to their frustration at not being able to get to the other side of the glass.


Hissing cannot be mistaken as a friendly noise. Unlike the standard cat’s meow, its sharp, sibilant sound means that your furry friend is not feeling friendly at all. It’s in a cat’s nature to avoid confrontation most of the time, but when provoked, back off. 

An arched back, flattened ears, a twitching tail, and a display of their fangs might accompany a cat’s hiss to indicate that they’re ready to strike.

An abused or stray cat is considerably more likely than a well-adjusted, friendly kitty to go into “hissing mode.” This is where the element of comfortability and perception of a cat becomes a factor. Shy and reserved cats will hiss more if they are uncomfortable with the environment. In comparison, friendly and outgoing cats tend to hiss less. 


Louder and longer meows are called yowl. It’s the opposite of the standard cat’s meow, and it can indicate fear, annoyance, territorial concern, or be a mating call. Older cats that produce excessive yowling can be a sign of cognitive disorder or dementia. 

Often, yowling is a cat-to-cat kind of communication, telling the other cat to stay away from their area, or they might be expressing their intent to mate. There also might be an issue of discomfort within your cat’s environment. Some cats that were relocated might feel uneasy and disoriented due to their new surroundings. 

If the yowling continues for more than usual, this could be a sign that your cat is sick and a trip to a vet is in order. If you have a non-spayed or non-neutered cat, loud and long yowling is a common part of your fur baby’s mating behavior. See to it immediately, especially if you let your feline-friend roam around outside. 

As a responsible fur parent, you need to be aware of your cat’s surroundings and internal state. Make sure that they have an ample amount of toys to play with. Yowling can be simply a result of boredom. Several minutes of playtime is enough to curb the yowling. 


It’s a mix of howling and whining (but cat-like); it’s a strange, drawn-out moan that sounds melodramatic. Females caterwaul to signal the male cats that they are ready to mate. Caterwauling can also be combined with anxious behaviors from your cat trying to escape and meet her male counterparts.


After caterwauling, if your non-neutered female cat successfully got out, mating will be inevitable. She will be aggressive as she adopts a crouching position (lordosis). This screeching sound can be loud and be heard after or during the mating process. 

The reason for this aggressive behavior is that the male cat’s penis is barbed (there are little spines on it). How to avoid it? Get ’em neutered!

These piercing and alarming screams can be a result of anger and fear as well. During catfights, cats can be very aggressive. This includes yowling, mixed with a vicious bite, and showcases your cat’s sharp claws. As mentioned above, cats can be territorial – avoid fights like these by keeping your cat indoors.

Aside from the usual cat’s meow, there are a lot of sounds you need to understand. The more you pay attention to them, the better you learn about their moods and feelings. You will know when to feed them, play with them or just let your fur babies. #felines #felinefriends #catlove #ilovemycat #catscratchfurniture

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