What do snow leopards sound like?

Here are three audio files which tell you what snow leopards sound like. The sounds are unmistakably from a large wild cat. There is that raw and intimidating aspect to wild cat sounds, even those from small wild cats. Sometimes people expect wild cats to sound a little like domestic cats and there is an overlap in terms of the types of vocialisations but wild cats sound far more aggressive and a bit scary for some people which is a reflection of the reality of survival in the wild and the relative cosy safety of home life for the domestic cat.

If you stand on one leg you have to maintain your balance. If you wobble slightly you will move your other leg outwards or to one side to counterbalance your body and thereby retain balance. These are the same principles with respect to the physics as the use of a snow leopard's tail when hunting.

Glorious snow leopard. Photo: Danny Sullivan

Long distance call

The first sound is a long distance call, which the authors of Wild Cats Of The World would probably call a ‘piercing yowl’. The sound that you hear was made by a captive snow leopard standing on a rock looking out over a nice landscape that the cat should be enjoying. She calls out to the landscape for a mate, for company. Frankly, it is sad.

The first audio file can be accessed by clicking on the link immediately below. The one below that can be started by clicking the play button. The same applies to the other audio files on this page.

Snow leopard piercing yowl long distance call


Close greeting

The second sound comes from a captive snow leopard in Florida (hardly ideal from a landscape type and temperature perspective). There are some faint sounds underneath the cat’s close greeting sound which is described as a ‘chuff’ or a ‘prusten’. These sounds are made by other large wild cat species in close quarter conversation. It is a greeting sound.

Snow leopard prusten or chuff – close range greeting



The third vocalisation I have assessed as being a ‘cough-roar’. It is provided by The Snow Leopard Trust. It starts fairly quietly so please keep playing it.

Snow leopard cough-roar


We don’t know what the ‘cough-roar’ is for. It is a sound that falls in-between the prusten and long range yowl in terms of volume and intensity.

Snow leopards also spit, hiss and growl but their anatomy prevents them from roaring like the big cats namely the leopard, tiger, lion and jaguar.


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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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