What do leopard cats sound like?

Leopard cat

Leopard cat. Photo (modified) from video on this page.

On paper leopard cats make a range of sounds which are similiar to those of domestic cats such as the purr, meow, spit, hiss and growl. But here is the thing: their versions of these sounds are not the same. The nice camera trap video below illustrates the point. Leopard cats growl. Domestic cats growl. Absolutely, yes, but listen to this leopard cat sound which is described as a ‘growl’ and you’ll instantly realise that this is not the sound of a domestic cat. It is not the sort of sound a domestic cat would ever make. Actually, I wouldn’t call it a growl. I’d describe it as a sound advertising the cat’s presence. It is not aggressive enough to be a growl. It may be a call to another cat.

Whatever the purpose of the sound, it had to come from the mouth of a small wild cat and all the small wild cats, not matter how cute and cuddly they seem, make sharper, noisier and frankly sometimes more aggressive vocalisations compared to our beloved domestic cats. These are the origins of the domestic cat sounds which have become, in general, softer over 9,500 years of domestication to suit us. This may be because if informal selective breeding.

Note: videos on this site are typically made by people other than me and held on YouTube servers or the servers of other businesses (not the server storing this website). Sometimes the videos are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. It that has happened I apologise but I have no control over it.

By implication the title to this post asks for more than one recording of a leopard cat sound. It would be nice to have them but it is rare to record leopard cats vocalising. Big Cat Rescue have a leopard cat or cats but no glorious growls and hisses sadly.

One thing that I have taken from all the wild cat studying I have done over the years is that there is a big overlap on sounds between domestic cats and small wild cats but despite being the same on paper they are not the same in real life. The sounds of the big cats also overlap with those of the domestic cat but much less so. They have their own inimitable range of close quarters sounds which are very distinctive.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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2 Responses

  1. Karen says:

    That is not a growl. I have a leopard cat, who makes this sound frequently. That is a call to a companion. My LC will walk through the house looking for my Bengal Cat and make this sound. He will also make that sound when he wants me to come “play toys” with him. they have a variety of noises, but their growl is the only one of their noises that is almost identical to a domestic cat growl.

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