1. The ‘I Caught It’ Moan: “Owwww”

A kitten playing with a toy. Photography by Shutterstock.
Inspired by Tinsel’s sock obsession, this is a meow that sounds a bit like a muffled moan. Imagine a slightly faint “Owwwww, Mowwwww,” and you’ll get the idea. Many cats use this when they carry in their mouths plush mice, socks and anything else that feels like prey. I assume they’re celebrating their catch and showing it off to their humans.
2. The Mama Cat Chortle: “Rrrruh”

A mama cat and her kitten. Photography ©flibustier | Thinkstock.
You’ll hear this sound when mother cats communicate with their kittens or sometimes if your cat is just being friendly. I hear it sometimes when my cats jump up onto my couch or bed, kind of as a “Here I am!” greeting. A cat chortle is a birdlike, endearing sound, somewhere between a chirp and a purr. It has a bit of a vibration to it, perhaps spelling something like “Rrrrrrruh.”
“It’s almost like we’re rolling our Rs in a way, but it is a soft roll of the Rs,” Krieger says. “That’s a sweet kind of affectionate type of vocalization.”
3. The Growl: “Grrrow”

An orange tabby cat with his ears back.
Growling may be mostly a dog thing, but cats have their own version of the low-pitched, menacing sound. A growling sound is not a happy one, unless it is part of play wrestling. Heed the warning. If your cats are making wavering, growling “Grrrrow” noises at each other during mealtime, they’re feeling stressed about another cat poaching their food. You can fix this problem by not putting each cat’s bowl too close to another, Krieger says. Cats are, by nature, solitary hunters and eaters.
4. The ‘Feed Me Now, Human’: “Meow! Meowww!”

A gray cat looking up from his food bowl. Photography ©Ukususha | Thinkstock.
Different cats have different ways of communicating their impatience and hunger. In my house, an increasingly loud and incessant “Meow! Meoww! Meowwww!” means “Get off your lazy butt and feed me already, human!” You’ll also hear this caterwauling if your cat is asking for something else — to be let out of a room, for instance, and you’re not listening. The longer you ignore it, the louder and more insistent this meowing gets.
5. The Kitten Squeak: “Meeew!”

A kitten meowing. Photography ©Remedios | Thinkstock.
Oh, that high-pitched squeaky mew of a baby kitty. It will melt the feline lover’s heart! Note that if an adult cat lets out a strong, high-pitched meow, it is a screech rather than a cute kitten squeak, and the cat is upset about something.
6. The One-Syllable Chirp: “Meh!” or “Eh!”

A gray cat meowing.
This is a quick, staccato “Meh!” or “Eh!” that seems to serve as a conversational filler or greeting. My cats often do this when they approach me for affection or just have a dialogue with me. St. Louis-area resident Jaime Ingle has two Maine Coons, Pumpkin and Daisy.
She hears this “Meow eh!” chirp from Daisy when she gets her human up in the morning, as if she is saying “Good morning, Mom!” (As for Pumpkin, she employs a distinctive scratchy “Me-yowww!” while she rubs against Ingle’s legs, begging for treats.)
Amanda Tatala, who lives in the Pittsburgh area, has recognized in her Tiger a short “Mrra!” meow, which she translates as a recognition-based “Oh, there you are!” or “Yay, you noticed me!”
“I’ve noticed he does it more often when I know he’s hungry,” Tatala says. “Yay you noticed me … now put something in my dish!” While meows may provide fun listening, take note if your cat’s meowing patterns change, Krieger cautions. It could indicate an illness, like senility or a thyroid problem.
“If the cat starts doing an incessant meowing or a different kind of meowing — something that is not usual and does it a few times — there might be something wrong, and the cat needs to be examined by a veterinarian,”