What is My Pet Trying to Tell Me?

Whines, purrs, meows, barks – our furry family members sure do make a lot of noise! But what do they mean? Is your cat making a breakfast order or trying to tell you they’re feeling under the weather? This time on the Acoma Animal Clinic blog we’re looking at some of the more common vocalizations our pets make and what they may mean!

What Is My Pet Saying?

The Language of Cats

The wide range of vocabulary of cats is as varied as cats are themselves – and they may mean different things to different cats! Learning what they most commonly mean can help you decipher your cats code!

Some cats may rarely make any noise at all, and others might gab your ear off! Like we said, the nature of how your cat communicates will vary. Kittens who are handled and socialized frequently or even certain specific breeds may be more vocal than others. Age can play another role in increased vocalizing due to poor eyesight, hearing loss, anxiety, or age-related dementia. 

In instances where the behavior is a clear and obvious change you should seek out your vet right away to be sure your cat isn’t in pain or sick.


Meowing is an all-purrpose sound. Your cat may meow to get attention, say hello, or more. Some owners event say they have seen their cats meow to themselves!

Chirps and Trills 

Chirps and trills are typically how a cat mother will speak with her kittens to get them to follow. If your cat is chirping or trilling at you they may want you to follow them 


Purring is usually a sign of contentment. Cats purr when they’re feeling good and happy. 

We go over a few other on this blog just about cat sounds.

The Language of Dogs

Dogs speak more with body language than actual sounds, that said there are still some sounds they make that can tell you something, if not everything.


Dogs can pant, even slightly, in all manners of situations. They may pant quietly while calm, they can pant when they are happy and bursting with energy. Dogs may also pant when nervous.

This is all for light panting. If your dog is panting more heavily, something may be wrong. Dogs pant heavier when they are overheating or if they have an illness.


Whining is a type of sound that varies wildly. While it might seem negative, the root of the whine is the desire for attention, or asking you for something. The dog knows you’ll pay them attention when they whine so they associate this sound with getting your attention to get what they need, whether it’s outside to use the restroom or to eat. 

If your dog is whining without those other cues, there may be a healthy concern that needs attending to.


Barking is to dogs what yelling is to humans. It’s your pooch expressing themselves loudly. What the bark means may vary by the type of barking it is. A rapid, non stop bark is usually an alert – your dog spotted someone and needs everyone in the house to know “Watch out, someone else is in our territory!” Deep, loud barks are typical defensive warnings, your dog isn’t just alerting you to a stranger’s presence, they’re letting the stranger know “Don’t come close to me I don’t know you and I don’t trust you.” 


Not all breeds are howlers but boy howdy some sure are! Howling is often similar to barking, and used to communicate with other dogs in the area. 


Some dogs can vocalize their barks and howls into something similar to sounding like singing. This is usually only done when your dog is feeling extra happy, this is a playful type of vocalizing that’s your pooch just showing you how good a mood they’re in!

If your pets are making sounds, look to the other cues, their body language, what they seem to be doing at the time of the noise, to better understand their specific type of language! If you notice any drastic changes – call your vet! There may be an underlying health concern that can help!

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