Do sand cats meow?

On the basis that the feline meow is quite a variable sound even among domestic cats, I think that we can say that sand cats do indeed meow but they produce their own version of it.

Sand cat meows when presented with a sprig of catnip
Sand cat ‘meows’ (their rather aggressive version) when presented with a sprig of catnip. Screenshot.
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It is interesting that the excellent reference book that I have on the wild cat species, Wild Cats of the World, does not tell me that sand cats meow. However, a video on YouTube shows a person teasing a sand cat with a sprig of catnip. The sand cat response typically by rolling over and therefore we know that sand cats respond to catnip! At the same time, the cat makes this growling/meow sound. I would call the sound a meow if, as mentioned, we agree that this feline vocalisation can be quite variable.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.


We know that sand cats growl and spit just like domestic cats. They are also known for a loud barking call much like a dog. It’s funny that because my cat barks sometimes as well. He’s a domestic cat by the way! There is this natural flexibility in vocalisations. Sometimes people think that you can compartmentalise cat sounds into neat tidy brackets but feline sounds are quite flexible.

The small dog bark of the sand cat has been described as a rapidly repeated harsh cry which sounds like: “yea-yea-yea”. The experts think that this call is produced by males seeking a female mate. In captivity the sound is made when sand cats meet each other.

The sand cat vocal repertoire, to use the words of Mel and Fiona Sunquist in their excellent book, includes the gurgle which is a sound that sand cats make when they are friendly with each other. It is made in close contact as it is a quiet sound.

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