Cracking the Cat Code: Cat Noises, Moods & What They Mean

One of the cutest characteristics of our cuddly kitties is the unique language they speak. Whether it's a brush of the leg in the purr-fect greeting or a "back off" groan, cat noises have many translations.

Cats are just like us humans – they have moods and aren't afraid to share them. One minute they're curling up on your lap and purring, the next minute they're giving you a death glare from the top of the cat tree.

PrettyLitter Cracking the Cat Code: Cat Noises, Moods & What They Mean

Knowing when your cat is in the mood for lovin' or is more likely to bite your arm off can be quite a puzzle to solve, but it isn't impossible.

Let's crack the cat code and translate your cat's frequently used "words" and noises into something you can work with.

Happy Cat Noises

At her happiest, your cat will cuddle up and watch your favorite show with you. She might even snuggle up next to her canine sibling and give him a kitty kiss. Meowing, purring, and other peppy sounds are indicators of a happy cat.

Meowing

Meowing usually means that your cat wants something from you. Kitties typically meow when they want to be fed, touched, or given absolute attention. If your cat has a set dinner time you may notice that she uses the exact same meow each time, like a sort of dinner alarm clock.

Sometimes, when your cat meows, it's simply her way of expressing herself. She could be singing a song, reciting a poem, or spilling your secrets – that's one cat code you'll never crack.

In older cats, meowing for no reason may be cause for concern. According to the ASPCA, "Elderly cats suffering from mental confusion, or cognitive dysfunction, may meow if they become disoriented." This can indicate underlying conditions like the feline version of Alzheimer’s Disease, so be sure to get Fluffy checked if you're worried.

Purring

A purring cat usually means she's comfortable and content. When you snuggle up to her and she purrs, that's felinese for, "I love you."

Sometimes cat purrs may indicate stress or nervousness, but that's likely not the case if your cat is in your arms – likely one of her favorite places on earth.

Chirping

Cats often converse with each other using chirps and trills. You may also find that your cat will chirp at you to lead you to something, like her food bowl.

The English translation of a cat chirp is, "follow me!" or "hey, look at this!"

Chattering

Occasionally, you may find your fur-baby chattering, especially while "window hunting." She may chatter when she's playing or when she sees something outside, like a bird.

While there isn't a known translation for chattering, it's believed to be an instinctual hunting behavior that mimics the movement cats make with their jaw once they have prey between their pearly white teeth.

Cranky Cat Noises

Like us, cats have their bad days, too. No, they didn't have to drive to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic this morning and no, they also didn't have to pay for a surprise parking ticket during their lunch hour.

PrettyLitter Cracking the Cat Code: Cat Noises, Moods & What They Mean

But hey, stress is relative and everyone's entitled to a bad day every once in a while.

Yowling

Yowling is one of the harder cat noises to translate. It has various definitions depending on your cat and her surroundings.

Yowling is one way cats signal to other cats that they're ready to mate – a sort of mating call, if you will.

Another reason your cat may be yowling is to keep people or her siblings out of her space. Yowling is a feline version of a "KEEP OUT" sign.

A cat's yowl may also indicate that she's injured or sick. If you notice a change in behavior in combination with a yowl, you should take your fur-baby to the vet to make sure she's okay.

Growling

Dogs aren't the only ones that growl. If your cat growls at you, she's basically warning you away and letting everyone know she's pissed.

Hissing

Oftentimes, hissing cats are frightened. They hiss as a way to protect themselves from anything or anyone they feel threatened by.

According to The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, "Cats demonstrating fear aggression may flatten their ears against their heads, hiss, bare their teeth, or crouch low to the ground with their tail tucked under their body, and their fur may stand on end."

While hissing is one of the most alarming cat noises you'll hear from a cat, remember that her scary tone are meant to protect her from something she perceives as scary and threatening.

When your kitty hisses at you or a friendly visitor, it's best to change your behavior or approach towards her – and leave her alone to cool off for a while. Let your cat calm down by giving her space rather than trying to win her over, and don't force her into a situation she clearly isn't ready for.

Speaking Cat Language Like a Champ

All cats are different and each have their own unique language (just like you, boo!). But it's far easier to crack the cat code and translate their meows and growls when you know what to listen for.

Does your cat make any unique noises? What do you think she's trying to tell you? Share with us in the comments below!




Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

Author



35 Responses

David Walz
David Walz

November 19, 2019

I have the pleasure of learning the language from three black cats, all of them are talkers, all of them have a different vocabulary, the newest one is a black kitten and I’m encouraging her to talk freely. Black cat’s are unique, they need to stay indoors, the outside world for a black cat is very dangerous. The way to get them to talk is to talk to them and allowing them to speak whenever they want to, and you don’t want to stifle a cat’s expressions.
Remember you can’t train a cat, you can discourage bad habits, encourage good habits, and allow them to voice their opinion.
If you don’t understand the cat mentality then you are doomed, they are unique, strong willed, stubborn, dependent, however they are lovers, a lot of entertainment, playful, they love to snuggle, love blankets, enjoying watching the outdoors, enjoys watching the fish in the aquarium, TV, and so much more.

Bob Workman
Bob Workman

November 19, 2019

I have one cat that doesn’t meow to tell me it’s time for food. He will jump on my chest, eyes boring holes in my head. Now if I don’t do anything, he’ll start massaging my chest with his claws! If I still don’t do anything, he will start knocking stuff off my table by my chair! He did give me earlier warnings, my fault! Then his brother will just follow me around and do those short meows!

Roberta Tarr
Roberta Tarr

November 19, 2019

My Nala is spoiled rotten. I got her at 7 yrs and I am at fault. She actually screams to get my attention. Open the patio door or watch me eat. Love the company Never a dull moment with her.

JUDITH R WATROS
JUDITH R WATROS

November 12, 2019

I think I was one of your first customers.I love pretty litter most people are surprised to find I even have a cat.There just is no litterbox odor.When I got my baby she had been abused it took about 6 weeks before she wasn’t afraid of me.After that whenever I held her she drooled.She’s still a little scardy cat but she’s starting to check people out a little.I had her for about 4 years before my son even saw her.He used to tell people his mom had an imaginary cat.She was my gift from God.I was so lonesome and depressed and she needed someone to love her so we were a perfect match .She deserves the best I can do for her and pretty litter is the best.Thank you so much.

Lorraine Simon
Lorraine Simon

November 12, 2019

My cat Jolie and I have meaningful conversations. She meows, I meow back at her, she replies, I reply back. If I lower my meow, she lowers hers. I even open my mouth like a meow but don’t make any noise and then she’ll do the same. She’s absolutely hilarious. To say we’re in sync is an understatement. Also, she loves when my hair is freshly washed. She’ll jump on the back of the couch and headbutt me til the cows come home while making cute little noises. Jolie is 13.5 years young and just a joy to have around (even though she doesn’t like to be picked up).

sandra lee bunter
sandra lee bunter

November 06, 2019

Found all this so interesting to read. I could go on about my cars but all I want to say really is thank you for the pretty kitty litter. My beautiful girl” Nuggie “ who thinks the world revolves around her absolutely loves it. I have both litter boxes just in case she decided she didn’t like the kitty litter but nope. Since using it for the last 5-7 months she never went back. I think she’d be very upset with me if I stopped buying it so I think you have a customer for her life lol. She is a very fussy cat , very petite and just turned 10 on October 30th and she’s still so kitten like. But she’s like a few others I just read about that hates people other than my husband and me. She runs with her belly practically on the floor trying to look smaller lol and it looks so funny. As far as talking goes she makes a certain meow that I know if she’s not feeling well or ready to cough up a fur ball. She has really long hair so I brush her every night and she loves it. But she doesn’t like to be held and really just likes to be petted on her time. She can be a snob I guess but I don’t know what I’d do without her. Thanks. And that’s me not talking lol. Sandra. Crazy cat lady lol

Crystal S.
Crystal S.

October 18, 2019

My cat will come next to you and just drop flop down on her back with legs in the air and grunts and snores. When shes down and you pet her all over her head, her feet and paws will curl up or twitch. Its rediculously funny but cute

Nancy
Nancy

October 14, 2019

I have two cats, as different as night and day, both females. One knows no strangers (everyone is a friend), and the other runs for cover if she thinks there is a slight possibility someone might actually come to the door, let alone come inside! One I can only pet when she is in the mood, and hold when she is in the mood (usually for a very brief period once, sometimes twice a day). The other loves it whenever I pay attention to her, and would sit in my lap most of the time if I would let her. And if I walk by her throughout the day, she will chirp at me, to let me know I am supposed to pay attention, and hopefully, stop and pet or cuddle her. They are both usually waiting for me when I come in the door. Of course, when I leave, I often hear what sounds like thunder (them racing through the house), or sounds of things crashing. The reason I have two cats is so they will have someone to keep them company, and to not pester me quite so much! I love them, but just like children, they can get underfoot!

Mari
Mari

October 14, 2019

Ohh I loveeee kitty litter and so does my little Muffin!! Great stuff. With the other, I dunno, she use to get UTIs often, but doc said try giving her wet food, so now that’s what she has and loves it! No more utis since. Couple years now. Thank you for pretty kitty litter! ♥️

Mari
Mari

October 14, 2019

My pretty kitty is Muffin. Was given to me at only 5wks old; my daughter and I agreed she was too young to be taken away from mom. But we were told she eats reg cat food and we’re appauld so I went and got some “kitty” milk and gave her that awhile longer then gradually mixed in a bit of kitty food. She never stoped eating. Still 6 years later has good appetite. When I first got her she was very quiet. Never heard her meow or any noise first year. Then got room mate!
I built her a ‘condo’unit…two boxes I created with doors and windows and finally put contact paper all over to create a lovely home. She loved poking her little arms out trying to “catch “ me each time I’d walk by. So cute! Well this person, my roomie was not nice and use to stick his huge arms into the doors and windows and scare her and she was so small! He would pick her up and play or cuddle with her sometimes too. But I didn’t like t! She was my kitty!
Anyway all these years later she never forgot! She hates hands and arms! I have to be careful when I put my arm down to pull up handle on my recliner or she attacks my arm. My grandkids come with my daughters, only once in a long while. So she’s not use to visitors. She hisses at my eldest and youngest daughters and some of the grandkids too. My youngest daughter (28),will go try to pet her anyway. The eldest one says she’s evil. But when they are gone she sweet little Muffin. She loves me, and comes sits with me all the time. In morning she jumps on bed and down again and tears stuff out of my bookcase til I will finally get up and feed her!! She’s hysterical! She sleeps on my bed every night cuddles at my feet on my extra blanket. Love her dearly. She greets me sometimes near door or at top of stairs but always leaves me my surprise, an eyeglass case or her ‘mouse’ !! She loves me back! Mari❤️

Lisa
Lisa

October 14, 2019

My kitty, Gracie, is my first indoor cat. I got her as a kitten from a friend who rescued her mother. (Her mother showed up pregnant, and my friend took her in) Gracie has been a godsend for me! She’s very independent but loving as well. I have an illness that she seems very aware of, and she stays with me by my side for hours when I am sick. She has a game she plays with me….she will hide and I will hear a distinctive “meow” that is low and somewhat soft. I look around everywhere for her, but she moves when I get too close! Then suddenly, out she runs!! She stops in front of me! And I say
“Oh my goodness!! You scared me!!” And she saunters off, with her tail straight up, flipping the tip back and forth as she goes to her nearest scratching post, and scratches away!!
She’s a sweet girl and I am so thankful for her.

Jolee Vasquez
Jolee Vasquez

October 14, 2019

I have 2 brothers living with me, Eric and Ethan. They were rescued from going to the shelter almost 10 years ago as kittens. They’ve grown into sleek, mostly black young men! Ethan is larger, very vocal and will actually kiss me! Eric is not so big, still looks kittenish to me and hardly ever talks. I know he can though, because in the car, going to the vet or the boarder, it sounds like cat choir in my car!
Both are very affectionate, although a little wary of being held. Ethan is right there to guard me every time I use the bathroom. And both cats enjoy sleeping by me and having their bellies rubbed. I think they like pretty litter!

Rai Cornell
Rai Cornell

October 08, 2019

Hey @Tara – Wow, that’s quite a fascinating case. Rusty really gives the phrase “cat got your tongue?” a new meaning!

Has Rusty ever made any sort of noises? Have you discussed this with your veterinarian?

If Rusty has never spoken a word, it may be possible that he’s mute. Some cats and dogs are born deaf or develop conditions that cause them to lose their hearing. It may be that Rusty has a similar condition causing him to lose his voice. I highly recommend taking him in for a check-up and telling your vet about this interesting characteristic of your little one.

Carolyn Marie
Carolyn Marie

October 04, 2019

My cat Pumpkin. Can’t stand for me to use toilet 🚽. When I think he is outside or asleep, he charges in to me. I learned this is a good time to comb him for fleas. This reminds me when my son’s were little. Sometimes I close bathroom door to get private. Then an knock at the door, “what you do”. Pumpkin do not like me close bathroom.. He lets me know that is appropriate behavior. Crying loudly.

Maria Burchi
Maria Burchi

October 04, 2019

Mildred the cat barks. She doesn’t bark like a poodle or Rottweiler. It’s almost as if she clips her vocal chords while delivering a loud high noted sound. It’s kind of sassy or bossy.

carolyn mullaney
carolyn mullaney

September 27, 2019

I wish I had a cat that would let me pick her up. I adopted an older 4-5 yrs. She she lost an eye before coming to me,we don’t know how. I love her but she is very standoffish. I have her 5 yrs & every little has changed.

Megan Wollman
Megan Wollman

September 27, 2019

My Nala whines, like full out, nearly pouting whines. People who don’t know her think she’s mad or hissing, but it’s her way of saying “I’m not really mad, but you need to be doing something else”

It’s super funny, cause when she knows she’s in trouble she’ll just kinda go limp and whine like “I know, but you don’t gotta make a fuss about it”

Cheryl Morcom
Cheryl Morcom

September 24, 2019

My cat, Stormy, waits at the door when I come home for me to rub her head then she rolls over for me to rub her tummy.
I love when she does this welcoming routine!

Nancy Goldwire
Nancy Goldwire

September 24, 2019

My precious Bugsy is a rescued feral who appeared in the drive way when he was tiny. Don’t know how he got there, he didn’t weigh over 4 oz, tiny, tiny. He has this habit of “Killing” the mouse !!! We have a toy mouse, he gets it in his mouth & parades thru the house with this darn mouse hanging out of his mouth & uttering a strange meow. ‘Course I make a big fuss over him, so he just parades more. Guests always get a kick out of seeing him. He sleeps curled up against me, it’s precious!!

Patricia Pointer
Patricia Pointer

September 20, 2019

My cats start to wrestle and sound like they’re killing each other, but they are
just playing. They do this at time to go to bed. It lasts about 5 to 10 min.

Patricia Ferguson
Patricia Ferguson

September 20, 2019

These newsletters are priceless. Cleverly written and very informative. I look forward to them. Thank you. And, hey, the Pretty Litter is so appreciated by me and my 4-cat family!!

Tonette COSIMANO Jacob
Tonette COSIMANO Jacob

September 20, 2019

One of my cats, Wolfgang, makes kissing sounds! Then I know it’s time for snuggles and kisses!

Shannon Hight
Shannon Hight

September 20, 2019

We have two cats with Unique personalities. Out older female, Moonpaw, will do what we call “Mewping”. it is kind of a half meow and chirp that really sounds like she is trying to talk to you. sometimes we can clearly hear, “No…Maybe..I don’t want that..I don’t know…YUP!” She will mostly talk to my daughter, she just has to walk over and look at her and she will stat Mewping. Our little male cat, Merlin, has a cat box song. Soon as he goes tot he box and does his business, he will start yowling and singing for someone to come clean it. He will also yowl from the other side of the house then come running when we answer back and jump on on your lap or the desk/counter to head bump you. We think this is his version of Marco….Polo… that you played as kids in the pool.

Sally A Carney
Sally A Carney

September 20, 2019

My cat Panther meows loudly so all I do is ask him “what do you want?…show me” & he does…kitchen is good I’m eating, or his food or a cuddle. He yowls when I leave & meows very loudly, stretches his paws up my leg (just like kids do) to pick him up…he’s purring so loudly & rubbing his head on my chin & licking me.

Brooke
Brooke

September 20, 2019

My cat runs around and yodels when she’s excited ha!

tara rae
tara rae

October 01, 2019

Rusty mimes. his mouth opens and closes, however no noise comes out. Have never seen that in a cat. Also he is unable to purr. What is that a sign of. Do some cats not develop a vibration area that may cause them never to be able to purr.

Sharon Manning
Sharon Manning

September 20, 2019

My cat makes two sounds regularly. One sounds just like the word “ huh?”. The other is a short but double meow that sounds just like “Ma Ma”.

Regina Harder
Regina Harder

September 20, 2019

I recently learned kitty’s do not cover their poo when they are sick, they want you to see and smell there is something wrong. A case of FIP/ corona virus.

Marilynn Hope (Lynn)
Marilynn Hope (Lynn)

September 20, 2019

Thank you so much for the information. I am on my 3rd cat and he is 5 yrs. old. All three were rescued cats and all were kittens when I got them. The first 2 were more sociable, loving and friendly. My 3rd one is very skiddish of strangers, runs and hides. He is much more aloof than the other 2. He is an orange Tabby and the other 2 were back/grey stripe and dark brown /tan stripe. All are short hair domestics.Tiger (1st cat) was born at the house where I was living. Lucky (#2) was found abandoned in a friends flower bed. He was about 9 mos. old. Bengie (#3) I got from a shelter and he was 5 mos old. Of the 3, Lucky was the dearest, sweetest and most loving and friendly. Before cats, I raised dogs, mostly schnauzers and schnauzer/poodle mix. I pretty much started out raising the cats like I did my dogs. But, I have learned too watch and listen to the cats and I think I have a pretty good understanding of how they think etc. except for Bengie and he most of the times just ignores me when I try to correct him unless I get up and start towards him and then he takes off……Sorry for writing this cat desertation, but I just can’t get over how totally different they are and were. Thanks for listening. Lynn

Viki
Viki

September 20, 2019

This is wonderful information !! I am getting my first baby kitten next week and this is so helpful. I have always had dogs so I need all the help and education I can get on this subject. This was fantastic. Sincerely, Viki

Duchess
Duchess

September 20, 2019

Interesting, thank mew for information!

Patricia A. Larkin
Patricia A. Larkin

September 20, 2019

My cat has a gurgling meow to earn me he’s going to give me a hairball, so I can clean it up. He has done this for the past almost 16 years. He is so thoughtful! 😂😂😂

Brian Mulholland
Brian Mulholland

September 20, 2019

My cat will sometimes hiss in between meows, but we know he’s not mad or frightened. Not sure if he’s confused or what, but its kinda funny when it happens. Other times, I think he’s trying real hard to say something that his meow is over forced, even breaks apart mid meow.
He also does this “uuuuhhhmph” noise…..we do it back, and he responds with the same noise.
He’s goofy, that’s for sure.

Barb Roeder
Barb Roeder

September 20, 2019

My boy Gus will sound like he’s calling me momma when he wants a treat. Many others have said the same thing when they hear him.

Phyllis Ferguson
Phyllis Ferguson

September 20, 2019

My cat follows me into the bathroom and squeaks at me while rubbing against my feet.

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