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Cat Talk

By Jayn Corral

Have you ever found yourself having conversations with cats, wondering what they are really saying?

I have had cats all my adult life, and now with over 30 cat pals at the SPA I often catch myself having sustained exchanges with cats.

“What? What do you want?”

“No, we already had treats.”

“OK, I’ll get you more water.”

“I’m sorry I sneezed and woke you up.”

After birds, cats have the widest range of vocals. There are the good sounds, like purring. Experts still don’t understand how it is that cats produce their purring sounds, which is a soft, deep throaty rumble that often causes their bodies to vibrate. Generally, purring indicates the cat is in the best of moods, feeling safe, happy, or sleepy.

“Meow” is another good sound that cats make. Interestingly, cats meow primarily to humans and not to other cats. They are saying, “Hi, thanks for coming,” or “Hey, you, listen to me, I want something.”

Beware though, if your cat is purring or meowing often and incessantly. That could be a sign of pain or illness, and you may want to consider a visit to the veterinarian. And then there are distress sounds like hissing. Hissing sounds like a sizzling steak on the grill and is a defensive tactic when a cat feels threatened, scared, or dissatisfied. The cat will open its mouth, flatten its ears, and puff and twitch its tail to appear larger and more threatening to the source of danger.

Some experts purport that breed determines how much a cat will vocalize. For example, Siamese cats tend to talk more than Persians; short-haired cats are less talkative than their long-haired counterparts. But there are always individual exceptions.

There are many other cat sounds, like chirping, crying and whining, chatter trills, snarls, and growls. Combined with learning how to read cats’ body language, we can tell a lot about what is on their minds by the sounds they make.

The language of cat talk is very complex, nuanced by the importance of the message. Understanding cat talk will help you understand and better communicate with your cat—and a cat you might be thinking about adopting.

Come to the SPA, located at Los Pinos 7. We’re open for visiting Monday–Saturday, 11–2. Come have a conversation with Chili, Tornado, and other SPA cats available for adoption. Our adoption fee is only 500 pesos and includes all current vaccinations, deworming, a feline leukemia test, and sterilization.

Please help us raise money to feed our animals (about 100 in total) by donating to the SPA’s Pet Food Money Bank fundraiser. Our goal is 250,000 pesos (about US$13,500). All contributions (100 percent) will be applied to the annual cost of feeding our cats and dogs. For more information, please see, call 152 6124, or write We appreciate your help.


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