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How many distinct sounds can your cat make?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
How many different noises have you heard your cat make over the years? And how many of those sounds do they make on a daily basis?

And yet another question: If you have multiple cats, about how many sounds will they only make to another cat but not towards you?
post #2 of 15
from Cats on the Counter by Dr. Larry Lachman & Frank Mickadeit
Quote:
Zoologist Desmond Morris categorized seven distinctive sounds domestic cats make:

1. “I am angry.†What we would call “caterwauling,†….
2. “I am frightened.â€
3. “I am in pain.†An agonizing scream or screech.
4. “I want attention.†The familiar “meow,†….
5. “Come with me.†A “chirruping†that mother cats frequently emit ….
6. “I am inoffensive.†The famous purring ….
7. “I want to sink my teeth into you.†A little clicking noise ….
I have three cats and they all make different vocalizations. Rocket is the most vocal. Frankly, I think his repertoire is unlimited. I hear him making new sounds all the time. Anything to get my attention. Most of his sounds can be classified as meows or grunts or grrrrs. He never chirps. Tommy mostly just chirps. He has abour four different chirp sounds. He only meows when he's mad, and it's only one kind of meow. Mellie has several meows, grunts and chirps. Her meows are totally different from Rocket's. They all make a little grunt when they jump off something and land on the floor, but I don't think that comes under communication.

The only sounds they make toward each other are Mellie's growls and hisses and Rocket's annoyed grrrrrs. I've never heard Tommy make any sound toward the other cats.
post #3 of 15
coaster - that exerpt is interesting to me, especially because Baylee started chirruping yesterday (which I'd never heard her do before) while I was holding her... so I don't think she was saying 'come with me'... especially b/c I was holding her to get her away from the door where she was hissing at Jordan..
post #4 of 15
Tommy chirps for just about everything, so I agree, I think the definition in the book is too limiting.
post #5 of 15
Lucky is my very very noisy cat. She chirrups to herself all the time when she's playing, even before I got Rambo. I think she just likes hearing herself. She's also famous for her "feed me" and "pay attention" to me cry. And the famous half meow/half screech when she wants to go outside. Rambo on the other hand makes very little noise. While staying overnight at the vet they were amazed that he made absolutely no noise. When rambo cries everyone goes running. I think he practices this every once in awhile to keep me on my toes!

I'm actually relieved to have only one crier and one quiet one....i think i would go nuts if they were both as noisy as Rambo!

Does anyone find that their cats talk to each other? Or learn to cry for food etc from other cats?
post #6 of 15
Morris, as you likely know, has many detractors. Not so much this issue but he is quite sexist for one thing - His Ascent of Man was almost neanderthal in some ways.

That said, I KNOW my kitty makes MORE than eight sounds. She is a Siamese mind you but I have read that cats can and do make a variety of sounds. My YY has very specific meows (you cannot mistake them - in the category of a Siamese will not be denied, lol) for food, for pick me up, what's going on, I am afraid, I am angry, for just I am happy - more a chirp, for I am nosy , a very particular meeooo when it's bed time and I deviate from what I should do in her (not so humble) opinion. She also talks to me with chrips and merps and I have yet to understand it all. I get most of it so I am almost there, lol

Cats of course also communicate in other ways - with their tail, their eyes, their stance, purring and hissing. I wonder if Morris is an ailurophobe?
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
See, I didn't know what some people might say to this question. No one has tried to claim their cat has hundreds of unique sounds, but I know for sure Nano has more than seven distinct vocalizations.

If I've been away for 10+ hours, when I finally walk in the door she will always come up to me and make a very specific meow (not heard at any other time) to greet me. I'll think about it some more, but right now I'm gonna guess she has 40 distinct sounds to communicate with me. (Not including grunts when jumping off the counter or the sucking sound she makes while grooming and stuff like that.)
post #8 of 15
Kandie makes about 18 different sounds regularslly and one when she is sick ... Zoey speaks in conversations so I aint sure how many but there are alot
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Any other thoughts about this topic?
post #10 of 15
Well, I guess one other thought I had is that what is a "different noise" is open to interpretation, because many of the different sounds are variations. For example, I could say that Rocket has dozens of different sounds that he makes, but they're almost all different meows. And I think the only sound in common between my three cats is the little grunt they make when they hit the floor after jumping off something. Other than that, the sounds each make are all unique, but still just variations on meows and chirps.

And then there's non-vocal sounds (sounds that don't involve the vocal cords), all kinds of those, too.

So, I don't think there's really any definitive answer to the question: how many different noises can a cat make. It may just be infinite -- every cat makes unique noises!! Much as every person's voice is distinctive. So distinctive that with the proper analysis equipment, a voice print can identify a person.
post #11 of 15
We have two cats that own us...Mischief will do her pitiful meow when she wants to go out or food. Kisa, she sounds like she squeels more than a meow, and will at the drop of a hat ( drives us nuts!), as far as what noises they make to eachother....they are still getting to know eachother, so I'll keep my ears open for what sounds they only say to eachother!

Mischief will hiss at her new sister ( at times, establishing territory) or at people she doesn't like. She also chirps at the birds flying by our window, flies, anything that moves.

Purring...when she wants it and we scratch Mischief under her chin or her face.
Kisa seems to like her hind quarters and ears scratched. She's working on her purrr, and will do so right in your ear, she likes sleeping with us.
post #12 of 15
Mrrrrph? (Hey, what do you want?)
Mrrrrph! (I'm going to get you!/Pet me/ I am playful)
Mahw-aeu? (Is there something you want?/Is something the matter?)
Aeu-Aeu! (Usually follows Mahw-aeu when I say it back to Aerowyn, no clue really what it means)
Ae-Ae-Aeu-Aeu? (Usually when I go on the porch and look at the cats and say some nonsence cat words elliiot will say this to me and look at me, and make as if to get up and come by me, so I assume its like *Is there something youw ant?/Is something the matter?/Do you want something from me?*
Mreau-aeurffff (Usually aerowyn says this aloud to herself at night "I'm bored!")
Also varied noises accompanied by purring and pawing at my arm by elliot means "Hey, pet me, I want lovins"
Aeu!!! (Usually emitted from cat after I poke one fo them when they are sleeping means "what?")
Mreau-Aeu?? (Said when cat is nowhere to be seen, means "Hello?/Where are you?/Mom?/Call to me!)
and of course there are the usual growls (from elliot, never heard aerowyn growl) which mean "Put me the hell down!/Stop touching me/I dont want her touching me!/ etc. He usually makes this sound when I pick them both up at the same time, or when I hold him when sitting down.
They make a bazillion other noises but these are the most common.

I can also tell so much more about what they want from their ears and eyes and tails. If you tell elliot he isnt going outside today, he will look at you with his ears back and then turn around and walk away, bum in air, tail twitching irritably. I find I often can understand elliot very well but he is quite an unusual cat and seems to have a talent for communication. Aerowyn is a bit simpler than him but I still know what she is saying.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coaster
Well, I guess one other thought I had is that what is a "different noise" is open to interpretation, because many of the different sounds are variations. For example, I could say that Rocket has dozens of different sounds that he makes, but they're almost all different meows. And I think the only sound in common between my three cats is the little grunt they make when they hit the floor after jumping off something. Other than that, the sounds each make are all unique, but still just variations on meows and chirps.

And then there's non-vocal sounds (sounds that don't involve the vocal cords), all kinds of those, too.

So, I don't think there's really any definitive answer to the question: how many different noises can a cat make. It may just be infinite -- every cat makes unique noises!! Much as every person's voice is distinctive. So distinctive that with the proper analysis equipment, a voice print can identify a person.
Right, but how many words/phrases does a typical cat have in their regular vocabulary?

I mean there's no doubt in my mind Nano has ~20 different sounds she intentionally and regularly uses in certain specific situations. These aren't random noises or a case of wishful thinking.

I've heard her make other distinct noises, meows or a combinaton of noises, but I don't know if those are one-time randoms or if they are just rarely used phrases. I've only heard Nano scream once but that was a very distinct vocalization. Same with a wail -- only heard that twice. But those are definitely in her vocabulation if she needs them. On the other hand, one time I thought I heard Nano barking (ruff...ruff...ruff...grunt). That might have been random gibberish or even a hairball caught in her throat , so I don't count "sometimes I wish I were a dog" as one of her sounds...that'd be silly.

Thanks for all of the replies and it has been interesting reading.
post #14 of 15
Ripley is EXTREMELY quiet. Sh e barely makes a noise, escept for in the morning when its time for breakfast. Cleo , is very quite also , except for I find her quite often laying on her back , looking around and making a weird (I call it) monkey noise. I think she is talking to herself, or her imaginary freind. Again as I have staed in the past...shoulda taken her to the shrink years ago . Baldar on teh other hand will sit and have an entire conversation with me. I mimic the sounds he makes and he will answer back with a whole different series of noises, change his facial expressions, and then look at you waiting for an answer. I have no idea what we talk about, but apparantly he is happy with our daily chats, as he will seek me out specifically to have one.
post #15 of 15
I'm so used to all sorts of weird noises coming from my three. Carly will do this howl when we go upstairs for bed that almost sounds like a parrot saying hello (herro, herro).

This morning I went into the bathroom and heard this odd hissing sound. I thought someone was upset or sick. Looked all over but no cats. Finally realized the neighbors were having their house painted and it was the air brush.
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