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Someone posted a question about the noise the cats in THIS video were making, between their regular meow-type noises.

They wanted to know what that noise meant when the cat communicated with them like that. I realized my cat makes the same noise when I speak with her, so I started doing some googling! Cat communication is fascinating to me, so I was excited to answer.

I'd almost finished my answer when the question was deleted, so I'm re-posting the question to the best of my memory (I hope that's okay!)

So, the question is - what is the loud, mouth closed noise these cats are making, and what does it mean?

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Cats make a variety of noises that people call different things. I'm not sure they're generally one thing or another, and lots of people have categorized them into many different types. Because science! Here's my speculation, though:

cat purr

Okay, okay, all jokes aside - I'd call that noise a chirr or trill. Wikipedia has a great amount of information on cat communication, condensed for easy understanding.

Schötz categorised vocalizations according to three mouth actions:

  1. sounds produced with the mouth closed (murmurs), including the purr, the trill and the chirrup,

  2. sounds produced with the mouth open and gradually closing, comprising a large variety of meows with similar vowel patterns, and

  3. sounds produced with the mouth held tensely open in the same position, often uttered in aggressive situations (growls, yowls, snarls, hisses, spits and shrieks).

I reason it’s a chirr because it’s more intense than a regular purr. (Fun fact: no one really knows how a cat purrs!) It’s a friendly, greeting-type noise, so you should be happy your cat communicates with you like that! I know mine often does when I talk to her. She responds in chirrs. The Wikipedia page linked above says this about chirrs:

The chirr or chirrup sounds like a meow rolled on the tongue. It is commonly used by mother cats calling their kittens inside the nest. Kittens recognize their own mother's chirp, and do not respond to the chirps of other mothers. It is also used by friendly cats when eliciting the approach of another cat or a human. Humans can mimic the sound to reassure and greet pet cats.

My kitty talks to me like this all the time, in "response" to my questions. I'm happy to know it's a friendly noise!

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