When we are in full Fur Ball production invariably the floor is covered with more balls of wool than you can poke a stick at. Soph thinks it’s great entertainment to pick them up, drag them from one end of the room to the other and continue this until they have all been moved to a random spot of her choosing. All the while she’s making this deep throated, albeit muffled, meow. We’ve written before about why cat’s meow, but what’s the story with the other funny cat sounds they come out with?
Common Cat Sounds:
Purrs: Is there a nicer sound in the whole world than hearing your Favourite Feline purr? Messages get sent from a cat’s brain to its laryngeal muscles which then twitch between 25 and 150 vibrations a second. This twitching makes the vocal cords separate and as puss-cat breathes in and out a purr results. Interestingly, members of the cat family who purr can’t roar, and those that roar can’t purr. This is because those that roar don’t have the larynx structure rigid enough for purring to occur.
Just as meowing is a way of your puss-cat communicating with you, some researchers assert that purring works the same way. They found similar frequencies in a cat’s meow and a baby’s cry which they conclude activates the nurturing response in humans. Yep, stoopid hoomans manipulated again!
There are also other studies which conclude that the rate of vibration of purring may have therapeutic benefits for cats themselves, particularly for bone regeneration, healing of wounds and the relief of pain.
Chattering: I used to think this habit was a little idiosyncrasy of Pussa’s but apparently not! If you’re cat does it you’ll know what I mean…it’s like a combination of a silent meow and chattering teeth. The only time I see Pussa do it is when she’s inside, spies a bird outside and that damn window is in the way again. Her stare becomes fixated, her body lowers, the tail swishes from side to side and then the chittering/chattering starts. To the observer it certainly seems like it’s a way of expressing frustration, but others think it could be a way of self-controlling their excitement at eyeing potential prey.
Either way it’s a good opportunity to get out your interactive toys and engage in some play time with puss. It’ll take the edge of that frustration and excitement and give them the satisfaction of catching some prey.
Hissing: Things aren’t going well when someone comes out with hisses. At Cat Habitat HQ this most commonly comes from Soph when Pussa has had a real go at her and she is prepared to tolerate no more of it. Sometimes there’s a hiss sent my direction when I’m giving her a manicure which she dislikes only slightly less than going to the V.E.T.
Cat’s hiss when they feel threatened and want to take back some control over the situation. It’s meant to scare off whoever they perceive as the aggressor, and when the sound is accompanied with flattened ears and an arched back, it usually does the trick.
Growling: These aren’t happy sounds. Most commonly puss will growl when they feel like their territory is under threat and thus it’s considered to be a communication method used between cats rather than with their hooman. It’s thought that it’s a way of warning other cats that claws are coming out next if they don’t step away from the danger zone.
Growling cats need to be left alone to calm down. However, if growling and defensive behaviour is a frequent occurrence in your home then things are more serious than a simple ad hoc cat spat. Try to make sure each cat has its own space, especially individual cat beds, litter trays and even cat toys.
Just like people, vocalisation is only half the story because a lot of communication comes by way of body language. Keep your eyes as well as your ears open so you know what’s going on with your Favourite Feline.