My cat opens her mouth but no sound comes out. Sometimes sound does come out. She is ill and old so that is almost certainly a factor because she did not do it before. But I have seen this in healthy, robust British Shorthair cats at Helmi Flick’s home. She has two British Shorthair purebred cats. This cat breed is known for opening the mouth and not emitting a sound. It is a silent vocalization if there is such a thing.
Also my big and hearty boy cat makes a range of cat sounds, one of which is the silent sound! Sorry just joking. I mean the open mouth and no sound comes out. It is as if he has a range of volumes and sound types. At the bottom end there is the silent meow. Just above that, he opens the mouth and just after that there is no sound and then a small and almost silent but explosive type of sound comes out. It is strange but I don’t think that it is that unusual.
What do you think? Does your cat make silent vocalizations?
What do I think? I think the answer probably is found in observing ourselves.
We nod to someone in response and we whisper or use the mouth to form words but don’t emit sound. In other words we employ a range of sound volumes that serve a purpose. When we vocalise silently it is meant to be friendly and personal, usually. Cats have a wide range of sounds some of which are for close contact communication. This applies to wild and domestic cats.
I am pretty sure that the silent meow is a form of close contact communication between cats and/or between cats and humans that is a reassurance that they are friendly or submissive.
It is perhaps a form of cat body language. Because it is silent it probably falls in the category of body language.
Is it specifically used when communicating with us!? That is a good question, I think. Perhaps the domestic cat has learned to vocalise like that with us to present a submissive front to us. We are quite intimidating due to our size.
See cat sounds.