Cat Moaning

Cat Sounds and What They Mean : Understanding 8 Common Cat Noises

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Jacquelyn Pica

Researched & Written by

Jacquelyn Pica

At EasyPet, we are committed to presenting the most accurate and up-to-date information to assist you in your pet care journey. When appropriate, we consult licensed and practicing veterinarians to fact-check our professionally written articles.

Why do cats moan, purr, or meow? Cats are one of the most adorable creatures there is and the sounds they make just add to their cuteness. But what do different cat sounds mean?

Cats may be known for their meows, but next to birds, they have the widest range of vocalizations among other domestic pets. Knowing the meaning of different cat noises can help you understand your cat more.

8 Common Cat Sounds


Meow is the most common sound cats make. You may find it unbelievable, but adult cats meow almost exclusively to humans – not to their fellow cats.  Young kittens first make this sound when they need their mothers. The habit of making this sound fades away in wild cats as they mature.

However, domestic cats—who have humans to take care of them – tend to see themselves as forever babies, therefore, they are able to maintain this endearing sound until they grow older. When a cat meows, this generally means he wants food or attention. Fast meows often mean the cat wants your attention at that moment.

Sometimes, meowing is simply their way of welcoming their human home. Sometimes, cats meow when they feel sick, annoyed, or lonely. Longer meows often mean they are worried or annoyed.  Senior cats may frequently meow as their senses start to deteriorate.

Understanding Feline Language –

Chirps and similar sounds

Cats sometimes make birdlike sounds. Kittens learn these chitty chirps from their mom. These sounds are a bit more demanding and declarative than a meow. This is how mother cats tell their youngsters to pay attention. Adult cats may chirp to get their owners to pay attention to them.

When a cat makes this sound, it may also mean he is feeling excited and happy.

Cat Purring


Do you love when your cat purrs? Cats purr to express their contentment. Cats often make this sound when they are being petted or when they are kneading.

Sometimes, purring may also mean your cat is agitated. To know what your cat’s purr means, it’s good to know his body posture when he is worried: ears back and tense body.

Cat Hissing


Cats hiss when they feel threatened. By hissing, they’re sending a message to the threat – letting them know that they are ready to fight if needed. This sound comes with the following body movements or posture: standing hair, flattened ears, arched back, twitchy tail, and an open mouth showing that his fangs are ready to strike.

Yowl or Caterwaul

Unlike the usual meows, yowls are longer and louder. Yowling is basically moaning for cats and they do this to communicate with other cats. There are two reasons why cats yowl: to tell other cats that she/he wants to mate or to tell the other cat that he’s trespassing his territory.

However, sometimes cats yowl for no reason at all. But if your cat yowls incessantly for no obvious reason, it will be better to have her checked by a vet.

The longer hollow-sounding yowl is called caterwaul. It’s the sound female cats make when they are looking for a mate.

Cat Screaming


When cats make hair-raising screams, it’s often because they are feeling sudden pain. Cats often scream when they get injured from fights or while in the middle or end of a mating process.

Snarls and Growls

Cats snarl and growl when they are frightened, angry, or territorially threatened. Compared to their larger cousins, the snarls and growls of the domestic cat have a higher pitch and may begin or end with a yowl.

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