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The Twittering Cat! (And Other Cat Sounds)

Jennifer is a writer, editor, feminist, and Potterhead. She also loves her cat and studying cat behavior.

This is Prince Fredward, my chirpy, twittering cat

This is Prince Fredward, my chirpy, twittering cat

Why Do Cats Make Noise?

There are many different reasons why your cat may be making noise. Any of the following could be the underlying cause:

  • His food or water dishes need refilling
  • Her litter box needs emptying
  • She wants to go outside . . . or let back inside
  • Some cats will meow to show their displeasure in their toys or beds being moved to a different location.
  • Other cats will make noise to let you know when they want you to go to bed.
  • They want attention. Whether lonely or needy, a cat will vocalize his need for companionship.

Meet Prince Fredward

Because my cat, Prince Fredward, first lived with my grandfather, cousin, and my cousin's daughter, I don't know if he made regular cat sounds as a kitten. While Pop-Pop owned another cat at the time, it died not long after Fredward joined the family. And when my cousin and her daughter moved back to Texas to be with immediate family, Fredward was left alone the majority of the time. Bored, he would climb onto windowsills and stare at the birds.

This is Prince Fredward, playing

This is Prince Fredward, playing

My Cat Mimicked Bird Noises!

I remember the first time I met Fredward. He ran around my grandfather's house in frantic circles, trying to expel all his excess energy—and he didn't meow, purr, or hiss. Instead, Fredward mimicked bird noises.

It was the most interesting thing I'd ever seen. I remember thinking, "A cat. Sitting in the window. And making bird noises at the birds flying back and forth!" Fascinated, I would watch for almost an hour at a time as he tracked the birds through the yard and sky.

To be honest, I thought there was something wrong with Prince Fredward. I had never heard of a cat mimicking bird calls before. And Fredward wasn't exactly great at it. He tried a gurgling sound in his throat that sounded more like a higher-pitched dove than anything else.

Prince Fredward in the dark

Prince Fredward in the dark

I Had to Teach Him to Purr

I actually had to teach Prince Fredward to purr. Imagine that—a cat who didn't purr!

Because I have an odd habit of gurgling in the back of my throat in order to make the purring sound when I pet cats and talk to them, Prince Fredward caught on. He picked it up fast. Was it something he'd done before yet had forgotten, or something that just came naturally because he is a cat? I don't know which was the case, but after a couple of my visits, he would purr when I coaxed him close enough to be able to lightly pet his head.

Prince Fredward Comes to Live With Us

The first summer after we had him, I remember we were holding a yard sale out front. Because he was bought in a pet store and had never been let outside, we were wary about letting him out with us. We finally put up child gates on the porch so he could sit there and watch.

We'd forgotten about the bird's nest nestled on the top of one of the porch's columns.

Prince Fredward at the window, looking for birds to chirp at.

Prince Fredward at the window, looking for birds to chirp at.

Angry Bird Noises

The yard sale was underway with a dozen or so people wandering through our yard, when I looked over at Fredward. He was crouched down in fear as a bird swooped down at him! She had just been defending her eggs, but Prince Fredward, never having had to deal with an angry mother bird before, was scared out of his wits.

So what did he do? He made angry bird noises back at the mother bird! I was floored. It was a perfect mimicking of the bird's angry warning calls.

Fredward's First Hiss

It was later that summer when my brother and his family were visiting when I first heard Prince Fredward hiss. My brother owns a black lab. Remy is a happy-go-lucky goofball, and being as such, he was incredibly interested in the cat. Poor Fredward was not happy to be on the other end of said curiosity.

Remy had bounded into the living room, saw the cat, and immediately headed for him. Fredward darted halfway up the stairs. He stopped there to turn and arch his back, and he actually hissed and mewled! I was beyond myself with surprise and delight. My kitty, at four years old, was finally growing up and making cat noises! It took a while to get both Remy and Prince Fredward to calm down, however.

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Prince Fredward catching some Zs.

Prince Fredward catching some Zs.

His Noise Patterns Today

Now Prince Fredward meows whenever he feels like it, which seems like all of the time. He's always wanting for attention, more food or water, or to sneak outside. I think he's still bored and would appreciate a companion other than a small dog, but that has yet come to pass.

Prince Fredward purrs constantly, especially when he's pressing for dear life (or so it seems) against us on the couch or actually lying in one of our laps.

Unfortunately, he's stopped mimicking birds. I think it has more to do with the fact that he's learned to make other noises than the fact that he's lost interest in birds. He still tracks their paths in the sky and will sit under the bird feeder on the rare occasions we let him outdoors. Maybe bird sounds are more work to make than regular cat sounds.

I haven't heard him hiss since the last time my brother visited. I'm convinced it has something to do with the fact that Remy is four or five times Fredward's size, while our small cocker spaniel is only about the same size of Fredward. Fredward must feel like Jamie is less of a threat.

Please Share Your Stories!

Please keep in mind that if your cat is growling or twitching their tail, or jerking their head as if they're going to bite you, it really does mean that they're agitated and do not like what you're doing. If your cat's weird noises are because of your taunting them, don't expect to get away free of scratches and/or bites.

I was going to add another video, but it seems that most "weird" or "odd" cat noises on YouTube are from people taunting their pets. This is not okay.

If, however, your cat makes noises freely, on their own or at other animals that do not live with you, I would love to hear the stories. Cats mimicking the sounds of other creatures is fascinating. Please feel free to share these stories in the comments!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 Jennifer Kessner


Jennifer Kessner (author) from Pennsylvania on August 14, 2011:

@Lucky Cats: I hadn't thought that about it being a hunting sound. Thanks for the tip! =) I haven't heard Fredward make the sound since that summer, unfortunately. =( I kind of miss it! XD Thanks so much for the comment!

Kathy from Independence, Kansas on August 14, 2011:

another really great hub, Meisjunk! I love kitties..can't help it and don't want to...and this is just great...that little 'chatter' is, I think, a hunting sound or an utterance of excitement that cats make when on the hunt...or maybe your kittie just loves to mimic birds..a mocking cat!! All positives up!

Jennifer Kessner (author) from Pennsylvania on August 09, 2011:

Six! How lovely. ^_^ I bet you've heard your fair share of sounds then. xD Thanks for the follow, and for stopping by! =)

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 08, 2011:

Love this about cats, as I have six. I'm going to follow you and read more of your articles on cats. thanks!

Jennifer Kessner (author) from Pennsylvania on May 29, 2011:

Thank you! =) I wasn't either, before Prince Fredward came into our lives.

Auntie D from California on May 29, 2011:

Very informative. I was not aware of the various sounds a cat could make until my new kitten let me know when he was hungry by making bird chirping sounds.

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