Sounds that Cats Hate

Sounds cats hate
Sounds cats hate. Photo by The Last Cookie
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I went on an internet quest for sounds that cats hate and came up with very little. This does not surprise me as I don’t believe that there is a comprehensive list of sounds that cats, in general, hate. However, I know what sounds my cats have disliked. I also refer to the sounds that other people say that cats hate. A lot of cats might dislike, but not hate, certain sounds, while some cats might be terrified by some noises. There is one certainty, quiet and calm are good environment qualities for a domestic cat.

It is probably sensible to remark that a cat will dislike certain sounds for three reasons (there may be more):

  1. An inherited trait from parents – a personal characteristic;
  2. A hard-wired trait that goes back to the evolution of wild cat species  (a general domestic cat characteristic) and;
  3. Sounds that a cat associates with a bad experience – a individual or personal trait.

In this post, I am concerned with sounds that cats hate (dislike), meaning cats in general.

Google Search Results are Interesting and Depressing!

The top ranked search result from Google is an appalling quality YouTube video (Google owns YouTube, so favor YouTube) of a male human frightening a black and white cat with weird sounds that are similar to a dog barking or a cat hissing (perhaps). I believe his intention is to demonstrate that cats hate certain sounds.

In some ways the video sums up the rubbish that we are sometimes presented with on the internet. The cat swiftly moved away to the kitchen having approached the person who made the noise.

From this silly and nasty video we can conclude that the sounds people sometimes make are disturbing to cats. There is another well known video of an idiot yelling at his cats. The video is successful. The cats are upset. What does that tell us?

The next highly ranked search result from Google is a website called “Pawsense”. The mission statement of the site is:

PawSense is a software utility that helps protect your computer from cats…

The site lists two sounds cats hate:

  1. Harmonica (this sound seems to be similar to a hiss)
  2. Hiss

My message to the person who manages Pawsense: Why don’t you just gently move your cat’s paws away from the keyboard if your cat touches them? Even if a cat does touch a computer keyboard it is unlikely to cause a problem. This is a stupid website and Google should not have ranked it so highly. Sorry Google but you get things wrong sometimes.

The next is Wiki Answers, a very large site that has a poor reputation for rubbish answers but who are cleaning up their act. The author mentions these sounds that cats hate:

  • hissing noises
  • high pitched noises
  • loud bangs
  • any sudden noise

The bottom three are sounds that any animal does not like including people so it is not a very clever list.

Loud noises is a favorite from people who share their experiences but these are not noises specific to cats. We are not going to get much from the internet on sounds that cats hate.

My current theory is that cats learnt to hiss from snakes hundreds of thousands of years ago, perhaps millions of years ago as a defense mechanism. They learnt it because they knew it was frightening and at a primordial level it is still frightening even though they can make the sound themselves.

My Experiences

Here are the sorts of sounds I believe that cats might dislike based on my own experiences.

  • the sound of plastic bags being opened or rustled. The sound is similar to the hiss;
  • another sound similar to the cat hiss is removing a polyester sports coat from my rucksack. You get that high pitched grate as the texture of the fabric rubs against the sides of the rucksack.
  • vacuum cleaner- this always results in my cats getting out of the room. I have usually taken my out before vacuuming. Rarely some cats actually like being vacuumed, a great way to remove excess, dead hair.
  • lorries. Loud engines. Loud footsteps. These sounds are based on my experiences with my lady cat who has died. They are probably personal to the cat in question.

Clicking sounds:

My cat has developed sensitivity to clicking sounds causing twitching


My feeling is that cats are generally fairly tolerant of most sounds but quiet is definitely preferred. Sounds similar to a hiss will logically cause a cat’s ears to prick up because it is a hostile/defensive sound produced by a another cat. That will interest the cat hearing the sound.

Animal sounds of any kind will interest a cat but not necessarily cause concern or be hated by a cat. Charlie, my cat, responds to the sounds of urban foxes who can make a very loud calling/crying sound in the middle of night. It is more of interest to him rather than a sound that he hates.

Note: If you have a cat topic that interests you, which you’d like me to write about, please leave a comment and ask.

Associated post: Smells that cats hate.

18 thoughts on “Sounds that Cats Hate”

  1. It’s not really a sound, but my husband brought home a large helium balloon for my birthday and both my cats hate it. At first they ran from the room, then after a while came back but kept a wary eye on the scary thing near the ceiling. Then they relaxed some but if you pull the string and move the balloon they are immediately on guard again.

  2. My cat absolutely hates the sound of a “Waterpik Flosser”. If I have it on for 2 seconds she meows very loud and hisses at me and it takes about 1/2 hour for her to settle down. After reading all the comments, I agree with all and particularly the vacuum cleaner. However with regard to the vacuum cleaner, she simply disappears and when I turn it off she re-appears and is not stressed. Her reaction to the Waterpik Flosser is much much stronger.

    • Hi, interesting comment. I don’t know the Waterpik Flosser but I guess it supplies a jet of water. I think this is a sound like a snake. Cats learned to copy that sound (the hiss) because they were frightened of it (as it was made by a snake) and knew therefore that it was an effective defensive. When they hear the flosser they hear a snake.

      That is a wild guesstimate but a guesstimate nonetheless.

  3. my cats hate the sounds of the vacuum though Ozzie and some of the others are slowly getting used to it. I would say im going to get your friend the vacuum out and usually they would shoot outside straight away. They dont like the noise if they here kids coming esp Smokey i believe something possible happened when he was little as is very skittish. another thing is strong scent or high pitch noise

  4. New Year and Fourth of July holidays are nightmares here. Fireworks are shooting off everywhere and my babies coward and hide. I stay up all night with them and not because I’m celebrating!


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