Different Cat Sounds-Pawsome Couture®

What Do Different Cat Sounds Mean?

What kind of sounds do cats make and what do they mean?

Contrary to what we usually read on children's books, cats make more than just the meow sound. As a matter of fact, they make a whole lot of different sounds that humans knew nothing about.

Just like in every human relationship, communication is key. And believe it or not, this basic life rule also applies to our beloved cats (or any pets for that matter). So if you'd like to discover the meaning behind the meows and purrs, here's what you need to know:


This is probably the most commonly heard cat sound.

Generally speaking, kittens make this sound to let their mother know they need something or need attention. They might be feeling hungry, scared or lonely. But once the cats get older, they use other vocalisations to communicate with each other such as yowling, hissing and trilling.


Most commonly known as the "I want to mate with you" sound. It is a longer, drawn-out moan that can also signify illness, worry, distress and territorial issues. 

"When I think about yowling, the first thing that comes to my mind is breeding season. When cats are breeding, they can make really horrible noises that really disturb people, but it’s quite normal," Dr. Karsten explains.

Or sometimes, it simply means they're bored and in need of some action. So it is always smart to learn how your cats communicate with you, as well as their body language.


Probably the sound you'd likely want to hear less from your cats because it really sounds scary and alarming!

This is generally a warning sound that says, "Back off!"

Cats growl when they see unfamiliar faces entering our house, when other cats eat their food or get their toys. This is a sure sign that they're angry.

"Growling is a warning noise," Dr. Gibbons confirms. "It implies unhappiness from annoyance, anger, aggression or fear. It is a signal to back off. Growling can occur from a variety of triggers. Some cats can be food or toy aggressive and growl to show possession. If a cat is annoyed from physical contact, he or she may growl."

A growling cat will have the usual body posture when being defensive - puffed up fur, arched back, ears back and a twitching tail.


A cat trill usually means hello. It is a sound between a meow and a purr which indicates a friendly greeting. Generally a happy sound!

As kittens, cats learn trills and chirps from their mother, who uses them to tell her brood to follow her. Kittens mimic the sounds, often in greeting or to get attention. As adults, cats use these sounds when greeting other cats or people.

If your cats keep trilling at you, it means they want your undivided attention or are telling you something. It's probably just an empty dish or spilled food, but it could be something more serious like sickness, injury or pain.


A soft, throaty rumble which indicates that your furriends are in the best mood.

This is the sound that your cats make when curled up beside you whilst you stroke their hair. It is a sign that they feel content, loved and cared for. 

However, cat purring is not always a sign of happiness. "Sometimes it is an emotional response, indicative of pain or distress. Indeed, cats may purr while giving birth, so purring is more likely to be a mechanism that helps cats rest and repair," says Dr. Jo Righetti.


It is another verbal warning; a defensive vocalisation which means something in the cats' surrounding is making them feel frightened or unsafe.

Many behavior experts believe that cats produce the hissing sound to mimic that of a hissing snake in order to deter opponents. A mother cat may hiss if other cats or even a human get too close to her litter of kittens or when an unfamiliar guest comes in the house.


Ever heard of a cat chattering like birds? Here's a video clip!

Whilst this Youtube video is cute to watch, many experts believe that cats chatter when stalking their preys and might be a sound of frustration for not being able to get them. This sound ranges from quiet clicking sounds to loud but sustained chirping mixed with the occasional meow.

So there you have it!


How about you? What are the sounds that your cats like to make? What is your most favorite sound and why?