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From chirps to meows to purrs, cats make an amazing range of noises.
For the most part, cats meow or growl as a way to communicate with other animals or humans. Whether there’s a bird outside the window or a lack of food in the bowl, a cat will probably have something to say about it.
On the other hand, cats make certain sounds for self-soothing purposes, or to provide comfort for other cats or humans. There’s a whole range of reasons why cats purr or meow, and it’s fascinating to learn more about this animal’s wide range of sounds.
For creatures without the ability to speak, cats are very talented at communicating their wants and needs. We rounded up some of their most common sounds and what they mean.
Meows are saved for humans.
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The most easily identifiable cat sound, meows can have a ton of different meanings.
In the wild, kittens meow when they’re cold or hungry to get the mother cat’s attention, as explained by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Generally, though, adult cats don’t meow much to one another.
On the other hand, adult cats meow to communicate with humans pretty frequently. In fact, cats meow at people to say hello, ask for attention, or demand food, as further noted by the ASPCA.
Chances are, cat guardians will learn to distinguish an individual cat’s meows. There’s a difference between the plaintive, high-pitched cry for food, and the bright, chirpy sound they make as a greeting.
Cats purr for some good or bad reasons.
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Although it’s another common cat noise, there’s something mysterious about the purr. The low, rumbling sound so associated with happy cats has a variety of meanings and purposes, too.
Mother cats purr to attract kittens, which are born blind and deaf, as noted in Cat Behavior Associates. The vibrations from this rumbly sound lead kittens to snuggle next to mom for warmth and food.
Later on in life, cats may purr when they’re happy, anxious, or sick, as further noted by Cat Behavior Associates. Cats have even been known to purr in an attempt to soothe themselves or someone else, including humans.
But there is a communication angle to purring as well. In fact, a certain type of purr has similar frequency peaks to the cry of an infant, according to Karen McComb’s study, “The cry embedded within the purr,” in a 2009 issue of Current Biology. This may show that cats are purring in a very specific way to manipulate people, most likely for a can of cat food.
A hiss is usually not a good thing.
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Like the sound of air escaping a tire, a cat’s hiss is unmistakable. It is the cat’s clear message to back off.
For the most part, cats hiss when they are frightened or unhappy, and it’s often the final warning sound before the claws and teeth come out, as explained in Animal Planet. A hissing cat is probably not far from striking out at whatever is upsetting it, whether that’s a dog or the vacuum cleaner nozzle.
Plus, some animal experts theorize that cats learned how to hiss by imitating snakes, as further explained in Animal Planet. A snake’s hiss is a pretty universally scary noise in the animal kingdom, and it also means the reptile is feeling threatened and ready to fight. Maybe cats borrowed this noise for similar reasons.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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