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Open AccessArticle

Only When It Feels Good: Specific Cat Vocalizations Other Than Meowing

Animal Welfare Laboratory, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba 80035-050, Paraná, Brazil
Department of Literature and Linguistics, Federal University of Paraná, Curitiba 80035-050, Paraná, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(11), 878;
Received: 31 August 2019 / Revised: 30 September 2019 / Accepted: 14 October 2019 / Published: 29 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Positive Aspects of Animal Welfare)
Among carnivore animals, domestic cats are those with the most extensive vocal repertoire. This is due to their social organization, nocturnal activity and long period of contact between the mother and the offspring. In order to identify vocalizations other than meowing in two different situations, a study was performed with 74 cats divided into two groups, one associated with a pleasant situation and another with an aversive situation. Only the group exposed to the positive stimulus of being offered a favorite snack produced specific vocalizations other than meowing: recognition or trill, squeak, purring and chatter. During the aversive situation of car transport, no vocalization other than meowing was observed. The present study indicates the relevance of applying the study of vocalizations to determine the state of emotional valence in cats.
Our objective was to identify and characterize the types of vocalization other than meowing (VOM) in two contexts, a pleasant and an aversive situation, and to study the effect of the sex of the animal. A total of 74 cats (32 tom cats and 42 queens) living in the city of Curitiba, Brazil, participated in the study; in total, 68 (29 tom cats and 39 queens) were divided into two groups according to the stimulus they were exposed to: either a pleasant situation (PS), when they were offered a snack, or an aversive situation (AS), with the simulation of a car transport event. The other six animals (three tom cats and three queens) participated in both situations. Only the PS group presented VOM; of the 40 PS animals, 14 presented VOM, mostly acknowledgment or trill and squeak. No correlation was observed between vocalization and cat sex (p = 0.08; Pearson’s Chi-Square). Results show that VOM is exclusively associated with positive situations, suggesting that these vocalizations may be relevant for understanding the valence of cat emotional state. Further studies are warranted to advance knowledge on other VOMs and on the generalization of our findings to other situations. View Full-Text
Keywords: cat behavior; Felis catus; phonetics; welfare cat behavior; Felis catus; phonetics; welfare
MDPI and ACS Style

Fermo, J.L.; Schnaider, M.A.; Silva, A.H.P.; Molento, C.F.M. Only When It Feels Good: Specific Cat Vocalizations Other Than Meowing. Animals 2019, 9, 878.

AMA Style

Fermo JL, Schnaider MA, Silva AHP, Molento CFM. Only When It Feels Good: Specific Cat Vocalizations Other Than Meowing. Animals. 2019; 9(11):878.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fermo, Jaciana L.; Schnaider, Maria A.; Silva, Adelaide H.P.; Molento, Carla F.M. 2019. "Only When It Feels Good: Specific Cat Vocalizations Other Than Meowing" Animals 9, no. 11: 878.

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