Feline Vocals

Felines have many ranges of vocal communication. Felines use this to not only communicate with humans but each other. The assumption that they remained quiet for the majority of their existence until humans was a silly notion. Felines and other animal species have been able to communicate without human interactions for many many centuries. That being said, learning to properly communicate with them now and going forward is vitally important to the wellbeing of them not only mentally but physically. I HIGHLY recommend the following link "https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7000907/" for a deep dive if you have a lot of time to "listen" to the specific noises and trills they make- otherwise, i've taken the time to shorten it up to just reading. Youtube videos will be provided soon VIA our own felines.

Mew (miaow)Depending on the literature, the vocalization is called either “meow”, “mew” or “miaow” probably due to the regional difference in English (mew: American English, miaow: British English, meow: might come from the verb “meowing”). It is unsure if the so called “mew” correspond to a unique vocalization type or include different vocalizations.TweedleThe tweedle sounds like a prolonged chirp or tweet. The vocalization often includes voice modulation. It is unclear why a cat would choose a tweedle over a chirp or a tweet vocalization, as the three vocalizations seem to appear in the same circumstances when something is desired.TweetThe tweet sounds like a soft and weak chirp. The vocalization often misses a clear initial sound. It is unclear why a cat would choose a tweedle over a chirp or a tweet vocalization as the three vocalizations seem to appear in the same circumstances when something is desired.SnarlThe snarl sound occurs during a rapid inhalation. The vocalization is harsh and marked by a heavy initial intake of breath and stopped suddenly with an [o] sound. It would occur in agonistic situations as a defensive reaction to a threat.SpitThe spit is a more intense variation of the hiss. Thus, it is also a voiceless and involuntary reaction triggered by the sudden appearance of an enemy. The vocalization is an explosive sound produced frequently before or after the hiss. As its homolog, the spit is used as an intense warning or to shock an opponent. As the hiss and spits are very similar it is sometimes difficult to differentiate them. It is uncertain if the spit is an actual vocalization or a variation of the hiss.YowlThe yowl is a long, loud and harsh call. The sound is produced with an open mouth that gradually closes. The sound is mostly produced in threatening situations (agonistic) or during reproductive situations "a female in heat".MoanThe moan is produced by an open mouth that gradually closes. It is a long sound with the Fo that is modulating slowly. The moan occurs in the same situation as the growls.Murmur/murmur-mewThe murmur is a short, soft voiced trill or purr. It is produced with a closed mouth during friendly approach and play. In a friendly environment, the murmur is one of the most used vocalizations. The murmur can be combined with a mew. The combined sound is uttered with an open-closing mouth in the same situations as the mew. The murmur-mew is a long and one of the most common sounds in friendly environment.Pain shriekThe pain shriek is a short and intense cry characterized by a tense, open mouth and a powerful expiratory effort. The sound is loud, high-pitched, harsh and short. The vocalization is emitted during active fights between cats.PurrThe purr is the vocalization with the most extensive literature; however, it should be noted that most of the papers on cat purring include few individuals. The act of purring occurs at an early age, and the sound is produced with a closed mouth, continuously during both the inspiration and expiration phases of respiration. The purring can last for less than a second to few minutes and be combined with tonal vocalizations. The pitch of the purr is generally low; its Fo is considerably lower than the Fo of the cat's voice. The purr increases the respiratory rate during rest. The close proximity between the sender and the receiver allows the purr to have a low intensity, which enables the transmission of messages by the kitten without being detected by predators. No direct correlation has been found between the body size and weight of the sender and the Fo of their purring. The main parameters of the purr can vary considerably between individuals, like the Fo and the duration of the phases.Purring has long been considered as a friendly, close-range intraspecific communication and social recognition. It has been described as a demonstration of pleasurable situation and low level of excitement. The purring appears to be calming and was considered to be an expression of seeking physical contact and would be used as an “all is well signal” by the kitten while they nurse. However, contrary to what is usually believed, the purr can vary subtly and be used in several situations. Firstly, there is a variation between solicitation context and non-solicitation context purring in the human-cat interaction. It has been suggested that instead of an “all is well” signal the purr would actually be an “I am not a threat” signal as it can also be produced when cats are content and hungry but also in case of stress, pain or close to death.The purr is produced during both ingressive and egressive airstream, but the two phases might differ in number of cycle and duration.CallIt could refer to a “meow” as well as any other kind of vocalization. Thus, calls can have various functions as it could serve to express a state resulting from a general motivation stage but is specific to an emitter-perceiver couple.ChatterThe chatter vocalization refers to teeth chattering produced by the cat in a vicinity of prey. The sound is the result of a quick stuttering or clicking sound with the jaw and a tensely open mouth. Often produced in sequences, the phrases could include other types of vocalization, or chatters of varying intonation. The sound of the chatter is often voiceless, meaning that it is produced without vibration of the vocal cords.Schötz described the chatter as mostly voiceless but published data of the chatter parameter the year before. The data must be taken carefully, however, as it might actually not refer to chatter but to chirping.ChirpChirps were described by Feuerstein and Terkel as high-pitched sound with a rise of the tone near the end of the vocalization. The short sound was named as it could be mimicking bird or rodent chirp. This sound can be produced either as a single sound or repeatedly. The chirp sounds can vary in intonation as much as the other vocalizations, either inter-individually or intra-individually. The chirp is also a vocalization used in the nest and this specific function is thus described in the kitten-mother interactions chapter.GrowlSchötz describes the growl as a guttural, harsh sound. It is regularly and rapidly pulse-modulated, with a long duration. The duration and the mean of the Fo are close to the one previously given by Kiley-Worthington.The mouth held slightly opened, the sound is produced by a slow exhalation. The low-pitched growl is commonly used in mammal species to express an aggressive motivation and is a ritualized agonistic signal in dyadic interaction. The growl would thus be used to warn and scare off another cat coming too close.The long duration of the sound and the gradation of the intensity of the growl can express a change in the motivation of the sender while producing the sound. The growl is often part of longer vocalization sequences that includes howls, moans, yowls or hisses, and can be repeated in the same sequence.GurgleThe gurgle is a short low sound that is mostly atonal. Its parameters were only found for F. s. lybica in the literature. Used at close-range, the gurgle expresses the friendly intentions of the sender in order to reassure, pacify and appease the receiver. Renate expressed uncertainty about the gurgle production. It is not clear if the rhythmical amplitude modulation is produced by the vocal folds in the larynx or the tongue. The first hypothesis was supported by Peter and Tonkin-Leyhausen, but since then no mention of it has been found in the literature collected. The domestic cat produces an intermediate character of the gurgle that has a rapid rhythmical amplitude modulation, which reminds of the staccato element in the cooing of pigeons and is perceived as one coherent sound.HissThe hiss is a long exhalation produced by the cat while its mouth is open with the teeth exposed. The vocalization is voiceless, involuntary and triggered by the surprise appearance of an enemy. An old paper succeeds in describing the hiss', but we find it appropriate to consider it voiceless. The sound is produced mostly in agonistic situations in order to warn an opponent. It is accompanied by a change of body posture and piloerection. It is also a very short sound that can stop suddenly.HowlThe howl is a sound close to the yowl but differs by a shorter duration. The vocalization occurs with threatening or defensive intention in long sequences with a slow and wide variation of Fo and intensity. As another cat gets closer, the howl acts as a warning to avoid fighting. The howl is often combined with growls and howl-growls in repetitive sequence.What NOT to Do
  • Do not ignore your cat when she meows. The one exception is if you know for certain that she’s meowing to get you to do something she wants. In every other instance, it’s safest to assume that something’s wrong—she may not have access to her litter box, or her water bowl may be empty, or she may be locked in a closet. Always make sure that her needs are met before assuming that she’s just being demanding by meowing at you.
  • Do not scold or hit your cat for meowing too much. While these punishments may send her scurrying at first, they are unlikely to have a lasting effect on her meowing behavior. They may, however, cause her to become fearful of you.