You talkin’ to me? Yes, your cats can talk to you! All the noises cats make can tell pawrents how their cat is feeling. Your cat’s speech habits may vary due to their breed, background, or personality. As a general rule, short haired cats tend to be more chatty and outgoing than their longhaired counterparts. By learning the noises cats make and what they mean, you’re better equipped to predict their moods and what they need.
What Do the Noises Mean?
A meow is a multipurpose sound. It can be used as a greeting, a command, or an announcement. Some cats simply meow for no reason, much as people mutter to themselves.
Chirps and trills
Since you are not a bird owner, many cat parents find themselves wondering “why does my cat chirp?” A cat chirping noise is often reserved to get your attention, or the attention of another cat.
Usually a sign of happiness or contentment. However, occasionally cats will purr to self soothe if they are anxious, much like a child sucks their thumb.
Growling, hissing, or spitting
The cat equivalent of “bye, Fur-licia.” Steer clear of a cat showing this behavior. It means they are displeased and want to be left alone.
Like extended meows, these noises signal distress. In cats that haven’t been spayed or neutered, this can also be a mating noise. Elderly cats suffering from dementia will howl if they become disoriented. There are a few ways you can help calm an anxious cat to prevent howling.
This doesn’t mean they are cold! It usually happens when a cat is watching birds or squirrels, and is believed to be a simulation of the “killing bite,” when a cat grinds their teeth into their prey to kill them.
Behaviors associated with cat noises
A combination of what your cat does with their ears, tail, and pupils translates into your cat's body language.
When cats are content and purring, they will lay down with still tails and pupils narrowed. They may also knead their paws on your skin.
Cats will turn their ears forward and tail up and their pupils will be somewhat dilated when they are playing and pretending to hunt.
If you cat growls or bares their teeth, it’s a warning for you to stop. Intense play can cause overstimulation in some cats, which can result in biting and scratching. Cats love what they can’t have, so keep it cat-sual and give them space to make them like you even more.
The next time your cat speaks up, listen to them! You know who to go to if they are hungry...hint, it’s us!