6 weird cat behaviours and what they mean

  • A vet has advice on what your kitty’s chirps, chatters, meows and yowls mean
  • Cats are smart and vocal, so it’s easy for them to tell us what they like (and what they hate)
Doris Wai |

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If I fits, I sits.

Have you ever looked at your pet and thought, “Just what is going on in that brain of yours?” Well, Young Post has been getting the pawriffic low-down from vets and other animal experts to help you interpret your furry friend’s behaviour and what it could be thinking.

This week, we’re reading the minds of our cats – smart, vocal creatures who have developed a way to tell us hoomins what they want and what they hate, too.

Take a peek at last week, when we learned about dogs


Kittens meow to let their mothers know they are cold or hungry. But once they get older, cats only meow to communicate with humans. Its meaning can range from being a simple greeting, to indicating stress, or asking for attention, for food, or to be let out.

Meows can vary in pitch and frequency. When cats want something badly, their meows may become louder, low-pitched, and more frequent.

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When you hear this high-pitched sound, you will also usually see your cat’s chattering teeth and jaw movement.

This is common when cats’ hunting instincts are in play, as they prepare to pounce on a bird or insect. Cats may also chirp from excitement while chasing their favourite toys or when they see you come home.

I've noticed you are typing instead of petting me, and I think we need to discuss this.


The exact reason of why cats purr is unknown, but most experts agree that it happens when they are happy and content. Often, cats purr while experiencing something they enjoy, such as being stroked or petted.

But cats may also exhibit this behaviour when they are in physical discomfort – look for squinting, which is a sign they are in pain.

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This open-mouthed sound indicates aggression towards other animals or humans.


Also called caterwauling, this is a form of meowing that is longer and sounds like wailing. Cats may yowl at their humans for attention, or to tell other cats to stay out of their territory.

During mating season, adult female cats yowl to let male cats know they are ready to mate. Many senior cats yowl at night, which can be a sign of dementia. You can calm them down by switching on a night light or playing soothing background sounds.

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The burble is a combination of a meow, purr, and growl. There is no specific explanation for this sound, but it can mean the cat feels happy, has seen something interesting, or simply wants to say hello.

Answers by Dr Kris Koh, veterinary surgeon at Vet Affinity, Singapore

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