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The sounds your cat makes to communicate with you... and with others

After birds, cats are the pets that use the greatest variety of sounds in order to communicate. Although behaviour varies greatly from one breed to another, longhaired cats are generally the quietest, and it’s said that Siamese cats are the most 'chatty'. Keep reading to discover the main types of cat meows and other sounds that they use to express themselves.

Meows: the most characteristic cat sounds, which are used above all else to communicate with humans and, to a smaller degree, with other cats.

Purr: a sound that’s produced through the contraction of the muscles in the larynx, which cats usually emit in pleasant situations, although they might also purr when in pain.

Hiss: the feline response to fear, a sound that they make while showing their teeth to intimidate their adversaries. If your cat suddenly lets loose a hiss, it’s probably best that you back off.

Caterwauling: the long, high-pitched meow female cats make when they’re in heat.

Growl: the long and threatening sound that cats make with a closed mouth when they’re scared or angry, or when they feel their territory is threatened. It’s less aggressive than the hiss, since the animal is only giving out a warning.

Trill: this is a kind of combination of a meow and a purr, which they use to greet people or animals that they already know.

Chattering: that particularly strange sound that cats make with their teeth when they’re watching prey they cannot catch. It indicates frustration, and some say it’s also preparation for hunting.

Kittens start to meow and purr as soon as they’re born to communicate with their mother, but it’s been proven that wild cats stop meowing when they become adults. Researchers believe that domestic cats, which have been sharing space with humans for more than 10,000 years, have developed their own language to communicate with us. If one of your furry friends wants to strike up a conversation with you, pay attention. Carefully observing their gestures and the variations of their meows will help you get to know them better and learn to understand their messages.