Cat Sounds

5 min read

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Mew (high pitched and thin) - a polite plea for help
MEW! (loud and frantic) - an urgent plea for help

Adult cats:

mew - plea for attention
mew (soundless) - a very polite plea for attention (this is Paul Gallico's "Silent Miaow" which is probably a sound pitched too high for human ears)
meow - emphatic plea for attention
MEOW! - a command!
mee-o-ow (with falling cadence) - protest or whine
MEE-o-ow (shrill whine) - stronger protest
MYUP! (short, sharp, single note) - righteous indignation
MEOW! Meow! (repeated) - panicky call for help
mier-r-r-ow (chirrup with liting cadence) - friendly greeting


merrow - challenge to another male
meriow - courting call to female

Mother cats:

MEE-OW - come and get it!
meOW - follow me!
ME R-R-R-ROW - take cover!
mer ROW! - No! or Stop It!
mreeeep (burbled) - hello greeting to kittens and disarming greeting to adult cats (also used between adult cats and humans)

Caterwaul - cat wants a boy/girlfriend!
Chatter - excitement, frustration e.g. when prey is out of reach or escapes (involves rapid teeth-chattering jaw movements)
Chirrup - friendly greeting sound, a cross between a meow and a purr! (friendly greeting sound with rising inflection; familiar to most cat owners)
Cough-bark - alarm signal (rare in pet cats); like us, cats can cough both vountarily and involuntarily)
Growl - threat, challenge, warns others to go away
Hiss (with or without spit) - threat, fear, warns others to back off
Meow - general-purpose attention seeking sound used by adult cats to communicate with owners or with kittens
Mew (of kittens) - distress, hunger, cold (to attract mother's attention)
Purr - contentment, relaxation, also to comfort itself if in pain (cats in extremis may purr); a loud purr invites close contact or attention
Scream - fear, pain, anger, distress
Squawk - surprise, shock (somewhat strangled sound)
Yowl - a threat, offensive or defensive, but also used in a modified form by some cats seeking attention when owner is out of sight
Idiosyncratic sounds - a sound which a particular cat uses in a particular context.

Cat Phrase Means
miaowbu - Feed me.
meeow - Pet me.
mrooww - I love you.
Miioo-oo-oo - I am in love and must meet my betrothed outside beneath the hedge. Don't wait up.
mrow - I feel like making noise.
rrrow-mawww - Please, the time is come to tidy the cat box.
rrrow-miawww - I have remedied the cat box untidiness by shoveling the contents as far out of the box as was practical.
miaowmiaow - Play with me.
Miaowmioaw - Have you noticed the shortage of available cat toys in this room?
mmeww - I believe I have heard a burglar. If you would like to go and beat him senseless, I shall be happy to keep your spot in the bed warm.
mioawmioaw - Since I can find nothing better to play with, I shall see what happens when I sharpen my claws on this handy piece of furniture.
raowwwww I think I shall now spend time licking the most *meow* of my anatomy.
mrowwwww - I am now recalling, with sorrow, that some of my *meow* did not return with me from that visit to the vet.
Roww-maww-roww - I am so glad to see that you have returned home with both arms full of groceries. I will now rub myself against your legs and attempt to trip you as you walk towards the kitchen.
gakk-ak-ak - My digestive passages seem to have formed a hairball. Wherever could this have come from? I shall leave it here upon the carpeting.
mow - Snuggling is a good idea.
moww - Shedding is pretty good, too.
mowww! - I was enjoying snuggling and shedding in the warm clean laundry until you removed me so unkindly.
mroow - I have forced my body into a tiny space in order to look cute. How'm I doin?
Miaow! Miaow! - I have discovered that, although one may be able to wedge his body through the gap behind the stove and into that little drawer filled with pots and pans, the reverse path is slightly more difficult to navigate.
Mraakk! - Oh, small bird! Please come over here.
ssssRoww! - I believe that I have found a woodchuck or similar small animal. I shall now act terribly brave.
mmmrowmmm - It is certain that the best tasting fish is one you have caught yourself.
mmmmmmm - If I sit in the sunshine for another hour or so, I think I shall be satisfied.
Mreoaw - Please ask room service to send up another can of tunafish.
Mreeeow - Do you serve catnip with that?
Miaooww! Mriaow! - Since you are using the can opener, I am certain that you understand the value of a well-fed and pampered cat. Please continue.
Mrrrrrrrrrrroooooooww - Hold me, I am tired
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