Although there are numerous subtle variations in the sounds that
a domestic cat will make, there are only seven basic messages:
Anger. Adult cats become very noisy when fighting,
this will include snarling, growling, wailing and howling. All these forms
of signal are given a different name, but carry the same message, 'Get lost,
or I will attack you!'
Fear. When cornered, a cat will perform a yowling
noise. The message is: 'I am scared, but do not push me too far or I will
turn on you anyway.' If pushed further, it will lash out and probably hiss
Pain. If a cat is in great pain it will scream in a way
that is understood by any human being.
Wanting attention. 'Miaow' can say many different things in
many contexts, but will always have the same basic message, ' I want your
attention.' In wild cats it more or less disappears when they reach adulthood,
with domestic cats it persists throughout their life. It originates from
when they were kittens, letting their mother know when they needed help, and
they will use it like pseudo-kittens towards their human owners. They will
build on it, developing it into many different miaows, modified to suit each
Asking you to follow. A soft chirruping noise is made when your cat
wants you to follow, this comes from when the mother cat wants her kittens
to come to her or to follow. It may also be used as a greeting, when she has
been away from the litter for a while. This noise is often made while the
cat is on the move and about to go towards the place they expect their food
That wonderful purring sound is your cat
telling you that it is in a non-hostile mood, and is equivalent to our
Ready to Kill. When a cat is on the prowl and has spotted its
prey it will often make a clicking
noise with its teeth. they also use a variant of this when seeing
a bird through a window.
It is worth noting that purring noises do not only reflect happiness
and relaxation, but can also reflect extreme discomfort of sorts. For
example, some very scared semi-feral cats will purr when handled or
examined, even as they are struggling and fighting.
There are many variants and subdivisions of expression made by
domestic felines, but these are the seven most important:
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