How to Speak Cat

Author: Amanda Bass, Store Manager

October 28, 2014

Did you know that cats in the wild don’t often vocalize with one another? When they do, it’s usually between a queen and her kittens. Behaviorists believe that our domesticated feline friends “talk” to us a lot because they get positive reinforcement from us, usually in the form of talking back, treats, or affectionate petting. Here’s a simple guide to your cats’ vocalizations with some sample sound bites:

  • Meowing – “talking” to humans
  • Incessant meowing – signs your cat wants something, such as food or attention (if this behavior continues or goes on all night, please talk to your veterinarian as this can be a sign of an illness)
  • Purring – translates to “I’m happy and safe”
  • Chirping or chattering – probably brought on by your cat’s hunting drive and is thought to be a reassuring sound to a cat’s prey before they go in for the kill
  • Hissing, spitting, growling – a warning to stop what you’re doing, sometimes occurs before a kitty swats or bites to communicate that she is unhappy with something
  • Caterwauling – this unmistakable sound is usually reserved for cat-on-cat aggression, or sometimes indicates a mating event

All of our cats are different and have their personalities. If you’ve been paying attention to your cat’s sounds, you have probably noticed some that are specific to your cat or cats. For instance, my cat Bailey makes a particularly short, loud, and sharp meow when she is looking for her best friend, my alpha cat, Pedro. He usually responds to her and she comes running. Also, another cat of mine, Ayla, makes this high-pitched squeaky sound every day when I return home. She does not stop squeaking at me until I give her some scratches on her head and chin. These sounds are a clear form of communication and it is so interesting to watch and listen to how our felines communicate!

For more information on body language read our previous blog, How to Read a Cat.