How To Decode Your Cat’s Meows

If you’ve ever owned a cat, you’ll know they’re weird animals. While they prance around like royalty in your abode, they’re often caught doing very strange and out-of-character things. Sometimes this extends to the weird sounds they make without warning and seemingly without reason. Here’s a guide to figure out what the hell your cat is on about.

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Standard meow

Even those who’ve never owned a cat before will know what a meow sounds like. There are a number of types of meows, which are used exclusively to scream at humans, from curious to demanding. The longer and louder the meow tends to be, the more urgent and angry the cat’s request could be. In these cases, there could be a medical issue or they might be asking you to feed them urgently because it’s past their dinner time. Shorter meows that sound more like a question could indicate curiousity, a greeting or an invitation for a little neck rub.

Chirps and chattering

This is a sound your cat will make when they’re looking at a snack. It’s a predatory sound and it sometimes sounds like your cat is imitating the bird it’s likely watching. The chattering is when your cat opens and shuts its mouth, similar to how humans smack their lips together. The chirping, that’s often associated, sounds like short, high-pitched human baby noises. It’s probably the cutest noise you’ll hear out of a cat, in my opinion.

Trills and chirrups

Trills and chirrups are sounds cats make when they’re surprised or excited. If you’ve just arrived home after a long day, your cat might greet you with an extended trill and followed by a ‘feed me now’ meow. Trills are often made with a closed mouth and emanate from the chest.


Purring is one that’s fairly safely in the ‘good’ sound basket. Cats will often purr when they’re comfortable and enjoying their situation like when they’re having a quick snooze in your lap. If you haven’t heard it before, it’s a low sound coming from the cats throat. In some cases, purring can also mean the cat is a bit anxious about something but that’s usually when it’s paired with other telltale signs like having their ears pinned back as well as scattered attention.


One of the least enjoyable sounds a cat can make is caterwauling. It’s usually made by female cats on heat if they haven’t been de-sexed but can also apply to cats in distress. If they spot another cat or are in a lot of pain or a mentally distressed, they might also resort to caterwauling.

It’s characterised by a long extended, high-pitch sound, which anyone hearing would know means trouble.


A hiss is cat language for stop what you’re doing and back the hell up. It’s usually used when the cat is scared and is trying to intimidate the human or animal and uses it as a last resort to get them to back off. If your cat hisses at you, it’s best to ignore them for the time being and wait until they come to you.

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