Cats use many different meows and sounds to communicate with their owners. Different sounds can mean different things. It’s important to be able to tell what they’re trying to say to meet their needs. Below are some general types of vocalizations.
The Classic Meow: This one is the stereotypical meow that every cat makes. Usually, this meow signifies they want something, likely attention or food. If they meow when you come back home, it could just simply be a greeting. Older cats may meow more in response to failing senses and feel more anxiety because of it.
Purrs: Usually purrs convey contentment. There are times it can be a signal of worry. In these cases, the cat’s posture will give the answer. If the cat’s ears point back and his or her body seems tense, then the purr means he or she is worried about something.
Chatter: This occurs when cats vibrate their jaws. This is usually a sign that something has awakened their hunting instincts and that they are frustrated that they can’t act on them. For example, seeing a bird through a window could do it.
Yowls: These are longer, drawn-out calls compared to a meow. These typically convey worry, discomfort, and other negative feelings. This sound usually happens between other cats rather than in cat-to-human interactions, though they can still happen in that context. This means that the cat isn’t feeling well. Older cats may start to yowl more if they are having cognitive issues. If the yowling becomes incessant, a trip to the vet might be in order.
There are other kinds of vocalizations. Generally, high pitched shrieks and low-pitched murmurs are signs of distress. If your cat has a change in his or her communication patterns, either meowing more or suddenly becoming much quieter, you might want to consider a trip to the vet. Changes in communication patterns can be a sign of illness.