Photo by Sappymoosetree
Cat sounds can seem strange or familiar. I've lived with a moggie cat for a long time and provide for a couple of moggie strays who come in to say hello and stay and eat a while. I have also met Ken and Helmi Flick's cats, two British Shorthair cats and two Maine Coon cats (see Ken and Helmi Flick's Cats). The Maine Coons have very different voices and make different cat sounds to British Shorthairs. The Maine Coon cats are called Quin (black smoke) and Zak (blue bicolor) and the British Shorthair cats, Sky (blue) and Nox (black).
Then we have the Bengal cats; my neighbor lives with one, Daniel. They can make there own special cat sound too.
There is apparently a cat sound that the Bengal makes that is perhaps peculiar to the Bengal or wildcat hybrids, I am not sure. It is a kind of puffing sound. I think that it signifies that he wants to be the boss, the alpha cat. The sound is directed at other cats or humans. Sometimes animals can boss humans. It might also act as a defensive measure.
The Savannah cat has a particular brand of hiss. All domestic cats hiss. It was learned over millions of years as a successful way to see off enemies. It is intended to mimic a snake. A snake's hiss is recognized by humans and other animals as something representing danger. Cats can also growl a bit like dogs. This can happen when they are being aggressive towards another cat.
See another page of cats sounds including lots of recordings of vocalisations by cats domestic and wild.
My cat will ask in the classic meow for her breakfast or any other meal. Sometimes she can remain silent and simply look at me intently and throw her head back a bit. She might make a slight trill at the same time. Here is a video with variations on the classic meow and more besides. They are my cats plus some audio tapes.
How far can and do we go when communicating with our cat?
She also trills at the stray boy cat who comes in. This is odd. I am not sure what it signifies. But Helmi Flick's Maine Coon cats, Zak and Quin both trill with their mouths closed. I think they do this when they are excited or showing interest in something. This might explain my cat's trill. The stray boy used to hiss back as a defensive measure. He now just saunters by. Maybe they are getting to like each other.
Maine Coons also meow, of course. The meow I heard from Zak was a kind of plaintiff one, rather quiet and very pleasant. But Zak's meow is completely different to the meow of the British Shorthair cat. Both Helmi's British Shorthair cats had the same super quiet meow, almost silent. Indeed sometimes it was absolutely silent; nothing coming out of the mouth. Cat sounds without a sound. It was an extremely charming thing to see and just as effective as a meow with sound.
I've mentioned, above, some cat breed traits as I have heard them or know them. Individual cats will make their own cat sounds that differ substantially. Timmy's meow is stronger and more demanding than my cat's meow for example.
A special kind of cat sound is chattering. We usually see and hear this when the cat is at a window looking at birds, getting a little excited. She makes a peculiar chattering sound. This is her practice session in preparation for when she catches the bird (or so she thinks) and sinks her teeth into the spine of the bird, in exactly the precise spot to severe the spinal cord and kill the prey. Here is a video on it. At the beginning you'll see and hear a cat calling.
All the above are deliberate cat sounds. Cats dream and when they do so they can make a sound as if they are anxious (probably catching prey). Or they can snore like humans. Well mine does.
The simple meow can take on a whole range of levels of demand. My girl will ask politely at first with a standard meow. If I ignore that she'll ask again more firmly and finally she will positively sound irritated. I can sense that very strongly and it gets me up to provide what she is demanding.
If a vocal sound doesn't get the right reaction from their human companion, cats can make sounds or noise deliberately by disturbing objects or, for example, scratching something important. This latter ploy invariably works and is an effective combination of sound and destruction.
And finally on domestic cats (unless someone has a comment to make), the cat's purr. This has proved a bit of a mystery. It is more than just a sign of contentment. It is a cat sound first used by a kitten when he/she is breast feeding. The kitten purrs to indicate all is well and milk is being received. Mother purrs back. Cats can purr when frightened too. See Cat's Purr for a bit more.
Here's two highly interesting wildcat sounds which are explained in the video and which I hadn't heard before:
The photo is published under a creative commons license: