How many different meows use cats

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by Susanne Schötz

In this sub-project I try to classify the many different cat sounds in clear categories. As I learn more about the different cat sounds almost every day, the project is still a work in progress and this website is being updated and expanded regularly.
(The categories refer to the work by Moelk, 1944, McKinley 1982, as well as my own records and phonetic analyzes.)

Lutes that are made with the mouth closed

  1. purr: very deep, sustained, relatively quiet, fairly uniform, humming sound that the cat produces while continuously alternating inhalation and exhalation. It purrs when it is satisfied, hungry, stressed, afraid, in pain, having a boy or dies. Purring is more likely to mean “I'm not a threat” rather than “I'm satisfied”. Cat mothers and their cubs often purr because it is a small noise that is difficult for other predators to hear. Many wild big cats also purr, one of the most famous is perhaps the cheetah Caine. Many cats can purr and coo or meow at the same time.
  2. Cooing (trilling, grumbling, grunting, humming): Quite short and often softly rolled sound on the tongue: [mhrː], [mːrːut] or [brːh]. Used when approaching and greeting in a friendly manner, and also when playing. There are deep grunts and hums and also higher trills. Not infrequently a cooing turns into meowing: "Brrriu", "Brrmiau" or "Mrrriau"; [mhriauw], [briuw] or [brːiau]. Purring and cooing can also occur together.

Lutes that are made with an opening-closing mouth

  1. Meowing (Maunzen): the most common sound to humans, has many meanings and phonetic subcategories
    a.Beeping (beeping): very light / high meowing, often with the vowels [i], [ɪ], and [e], sometimes followed by a [u]. Young cats when they want their mother's attention or help, adult cats when they want to signal submission or need help from their human. Often sounds like [mi], [wi] or [miu].
    b. Squeak (squeak): scratchy, nasal, lighter (shrill) and often short sound, often with the vowels [ɛ] or [æ]. Often ends with an open mouth: [wæ], [mɛ] or [ɛu].
    c. Whining (wailing, moaning, lamenting, scared howling, mau (n) zen): plaintive or sad-sounding meowing, often with the vowels [o] or [u]. Often used by anxious or craving cats. Often sounds like [mou] or [wuau].
    d. Meow (Mau (n) zen): Typical meow sound, combination of several vowels that result in the characteristic sequence [iau]. Often used with people to get their attention. Often sounds like [meow], [ɛau] or [woof].
  2. Gurr-meow (trill-meow): Combination of a coo and a meow sound. Often with a rising tone: [mrhiau] or [whrrrau].
  3. Howling (yowling, moaning, moaning, yodelling): extended vowel sound from combinations of vowels and half-vowels like [ɪ], [ɨ], [j] or [ɤ], diphthongs like [au], [ɛɔ], [aw], [oɪ] or [ɑo]: [ awoɪːɛɔː], [jiɨɛɑw] or [ɪɪɪɪɪauauauauawawaw] with rising and falling melody. Warning signal during a threatening situation, often mixed with growls and growls in long sequences. Often two cats howl in unison.
  4. Cat singing (howling, howling): long, plaintive sequences with meow, coo, meow and / or howling sounds, which are produced with opening-closing mouths. The sound is similar to human child crying. The typical sound of longing for love.

3. Lutes that are made with a cocked, open mouth

Often associated with offensive or defensive aggression, but also with sounds uttered to prey.

  1. Growl (growl): rough, very deep, extended, voiced vibrant: often sounds like [ɡʀː], or like a vowel [ʀː] or like a trilling [ɹ̰ː] or [ʌː]. This sound is produced during slow and steady exhalation to signal danger or to warn or deter an opponent. Growls are often combined with howls and hisses.
  2. Hissing and spitting (a more intense variation of the hiss): Warning and deterrent sounds, with raised upper lip and visible teeth, and with the tongue arched towards the roof of the mouth emitted by a violent puff of air: "Schsch" or "Fffhhh" means "enough now". Spitting is more explosive, often with a small initial burst, sounds like [k] or [t].
  3. Screeching (screaming, crying out anger, defense / screeching in pain, screaming in pain): short, lighter, loud and often harsh or hoarse vowel sounds [a], [æ], [aʊ] or [ɛo], often occurs in an argument between cats, as the very last warning. But tortured or injured cats also screech when they are in pain.
  4. Chatter and twitter: Sounds sometimes used against prey (birds, rodents, insects). The cat tries to imitate the sound of the prey, for example, when a bird or insect attracts the cat's attention:
    a.Chattering (chuckling, smacking, chattering teeth): Voiceless, very fast, stuttering or clicking sequences of sounds with clattering jaws and chattering teeth, resulting in crackling k consonants: [k̟ = k̟ = k̟ = k̟ = k̟ = k̟ =] or [k k k k k k].
    b. Chirping (moaning, chirping, chirping): Voiced, short sounds, something like "Eh", "Ähh" or "Meck", sound almost like the chirping of birds, rodent beeps or the high-pitched ringing of a telephone, the tone often rises at the end of the sound [ʔə] and usually becomes repeated in sequences [ʔɛʔɛʔɛ ...]. There are also softer variants of chirping, such as a low beep with varying vowel quality, for example [wi] or [ɦɛu], and variants with longer, extended chirping that can sound like a kind of fiddling, often with some kind of voice modulation like tremolo or trembling, in phonetic transcription it would be something like this: [ʔəɛəɰə].