Cat Meow Sounds and What They Mean

black cat meowing up at camera

Cat meows are distinct and can have several different meanings, depending on what your kitty is trying to communicate. Becoming familiar with these different noises can help you bond with your cat and meet her needs.

Six Basic Cat Meowing Sounds

According to veterinarian Dr. Patty Khuly, domestic felines seem to use a meow only to communicate with humans, while they use body language to communicate with each other, although kittens will sometimes meow for their mothers.

Basic Cat Meow Sound

Short Meow Is a Happy Cat Meow

Several short meows is an excited hello from a cat that is happy to see you.

Mid-Pitch Meow Is a Cat Request

A mid-pitch meow is a cat asking for something like food.

Long Meow Is a Demanding Cat Sound

A drawn-out meeeeoooww is a demand for something or an angry cat.

Low-Pitch Meow Is a Cat Complaint

A low-pitch meow is a complaint or an unhappy cat.

High-Pitched Meow Is a Cat Cry

A short, high-pitched meow is a cat who is in pain. You might hear this if you accidentally step on your cats tail.

Other Cat Cries and Sounds

Cats are not just limited to meows. When a meow simply won't do, cats use their arsenal of sounds to get what they want.

Growls and Hisses Are Upset Cat Sounds

Cats growl and hiss when they are very angry, upset, irritated, scared, or protecting their territory. Growls can be deep low noises, like that of two male cats fighting, or quick hisses from a scared cat.

Chirrup Are Hunting Sounds

Chirruping is the sound a cat makes when it sees prey but cannot get to it. It is a short, stuttering meow of excitement and frustration. Many cats do this when looking out a window at birds. They see what they want and get excited, but they cannot get to it.

Caterwauls Are Female Cat in Heat Sounds

This low moaning sound is a noise a female cat makes when she is in heat. It lets other cats around her know that she is in heat. It is often paired with an uncomfortable-looking stance.

Purring Indicates a Content Kitty

Purring is most common when a cat is happy, sleepy, or comfortable. Mother cats will also purr to kittens as a way to comfort them. If you are petting your cat and he is purring, this means he is very happy with you and feels comfortable.

Understanding Your Cat's Sounds

Moat cats are vocal and will even talk back to you if you talk to them. Sometimes it is easy to know what your cat wants, while other times it is very difficult. Once you know what your cat is trying to convey, you can better meet his needs.

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Cat Meow Sounds and What They Mean