Cats have many ways of interacting with other cats and humans. Cats express vocally (meowing, purring, and hissing) and with their bodies and activities.
Cat sounds are divided into three main categories:
- Sounds created with the mouth closed, the murmurs (purring, trilling)
- Sounds created when the mouth is first opened and then gradually closed (meowing, howling, yowling)
- Sounds created with the mouth held tensely open in the same manner (growls, snarls, hisses, spits, chattering, and chirping).
The purr is a constant, soft, vibrating noise made in the throat by felines. Domestic kittens can purr within two days of birth. This tonal rumbling can be identified with various characteristics in domestic cats. Purring is often considered to be indicative of a particular emotional state, but cats sometimes purr when they are ill, tense, or feeling traumatic or uncomfortable moments such as giving birth. A more comprehensive definition is “purring flags a friendly social mood. It can be given as a sign to, say, a vet from a wounded cat showing the need for friendship, or as a signal to an owner, saying thank you for the attention given.”
The most common vocalization of adult cats is a “meow.” The meow can be aggressive, sad, loving, striking, welcoming, attention-soliciting, commanding, or mourning. It can even be soundless, where the cat opens its mouth but does not vocalize.
Mew is a high-pitched meow often generated by domestic kittens. It is used to solicit attention from the kitten’s mother.
The chirr or chirrup sounds like a meow circled on the tongue. It is generally used by mother cats calling their kittens inside the nest. Kittens understand their own mother’s chirp and do not acknowledge the chirps of other mothers.
The call is a loud, measured vocalization made with the mouth closed. It is principally affiliated with female cats approaching males, and sometimes occurs in males when arguing with each other.
Howl, moan, and wail
These sounds are used during alarming situations. Howls are more rhythmic, while moans are long and slowly tempered. Anger wails are fused with growls.
Cats use positions and drive to communicate a wide range of knowledge. Various answers cover when cats arch their backs, raise their hairs, and adopt a sideward posture to express fear or aggression. Others may only be a single behavioral shift (as perceived by humans), such as slowly flashing to signal relaxation.
A cat’s posture expresses its emotions. Their poses can be helpful or threatening, depending upon circumstances. Some of the most fundamental and natural cat postures include the following:
- Relaxed posture – The cat is seen resting on the side or sitting. Its breathing is heavy to normal, with legs bent, or hind legs laid out or extended. The tail is loosely coiled, lengthened, or held up. It also hangs down loosely when the cat is enduring. When cats are calm, they tend to stand relaxed with a still tail.
- Stretching posture – another posture indicating the cat is relaxed. When cats lie on their back with their belly exposed, they are in a position of vulnerability. Therefore, this position may communicate a feeling of trust or comfort; however, cats may also roll onto their backs to defend themselves with their claws or bask in areas of bright sunlight.
- Alert posture – The cat is lying on its belly, or it may be sitting. Its back is almost horizontal when standing and moving. Its breathing is healthy, with its legs bent or extended (when standing). Its tail is curved back or straight upwards, and there may be twitching while the rear is positioned downwards.
- Tense posture – The cat is lying on its belly, with its back lower than its upper body (slinking) when standing or moving back. Its hind legs are bent, and front legs are extended when standing. Its tail is close to the body, tensed or curled downwards; there can be twitching when the cat is standing up.