Purrs Chirps Hisses and Snarls . . . What is Your Cat Trying To Tell You?
Purring is the most common sound issued by felines and yet one of the least understood. When kittens are only a few hours old they being purring as they knead their mothers chest and nurse. Purring is made both while inhaling and exhaling with a brief break between breaths. Basically built-up pressure created by the opening and closing of the glottis results in a sudden separation of the vocal folds creating the purr. Although purring is often heard when a cat seems happy and content those familiar in dealing with cats in pain or near death know that they also purr while under duress; the reason for why they do so it still unknown.
The second-most common vocalization is the meow. This communication is geared more towards cat-human vocalization but it is also communicated between cats. Early on in life cats notice that meowing brings attention contact food and play from their owners. Some behaviorists suggest that certain cats seem to alter their meows to suit different purposes.
Chirping is made when a cat is highly aroused by the sight of prey. Cats which are permanently confined indoors make chirping and chattering sounds often accompanied by rapid clicking of the teeth when looking through windows at birds which are beyond reach.
Most times you will hear a cat hiss when it is surprised by an enemy. It is believed that when cats hiss they are imitating snakes. The sound of a cat hiss is almost the same as a snake hiss and a snake is one of the most feared animals there is. Hissing is pretty much common in all land animals. When your cat hisses he opens his mouth halfway draws back his upper lip and wrinkles his face. As he does this he expels a jet of air. The moisture he releases with this jet is the spitting that accompanies the hissing sound.
Lastly snarling is often heard when two male cats are in the midst of a fight over territory or attention from a particular female cat. Also your cat may snarl if an unknown person enters your home and he is territorial.
It is estimated that cats make upwards of 16 different sounds in an attempt to communicate with other felines animals or their owners. With time most owners learn to tell the different "cat words" that their feline friend says. Repeated messages such as "I'm hungry" "pet me" and "open this can " can become very identifiable.