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Home > Cats > How Loud Is a Cat’s Meow in Decibels (dB)? Facts & FAQ

How Loud Is a Cat’s Meow in Decibels (dB)? Facts & FAQ

abbyssinian cat meowing

Though typically much quieter than their canine counterparts, cats can be noisy little things! They’re not afraid to meow or hiss at you to communicate their satisfaction or agitation. Though some sounds that escape a cat’s mouth are more jarring than others, it is the meow that you’re likely to hear most often.

The average cat’s meow is around 45 dB in intensity. But what does that mean? It means little to the average person with no understanding of decibels. If you’re wondering how a cat’s meow stacks up to other sounds like ticking watches or whispers, you’ll need to keep reading.


How Loud Is a Cat’s Meow?

Most cats meow at an intensity that registers around 45 dB. However, expressive cats or those that really want to get your attention can meow as loud as 80 dB. On the other hand, dogs can bark anywhere between 60 and 100 dB.

If you’re not an audiologist, the talk of decibels might fly over your head. So, what exactly does 45 dB sound like? For comparison’s sake, let’s look at everyday noises and their decibel levels.

Noise Decibel Level
Ticking watch 20 dB
Leaves rustling, whispers 30 dB
Library 40 dB
Moderate rainfall 50 dB
Background music, normal conversations 60 dB
Office noise, vacuums 70 dB
Alarm clocks, power lawn mower 80 dB
Lawnmowers, food blenders 90 dB
Snowmobiles, ATVs 100 dB
Chainsaw, leaf blower 110 dB
Jet planes during take-off, concerts 120 dB
Ambulances, stock car races 130 dB
Gunshots, fireworks 140 dB

Permanent hearing loss can occur after exposure to sounds over 85 dB for extended periods.

Why Do Cats Meow?

Cats meow as a way of communicating with humans. They develop a repertoire of different meow sounds and pitches to express their needs and feelings. They’re a little manipulative in a way as they quickly learn that when they meow at you, you get them what they want.

There are many reasons they're trying to communicate, such as:
  • Saying hello
  • Trying to get your attention
  • Expressing happiness
  • Displaying distress
white fluffy cat with multicolored eyes sitting and meows
Image By: Helen Bloom, Shutterstock

Which Cat Breeds Are the Most Vocal?

Even though cats of specific breeds share many of the same personality traits, every cat is unique. Some individual cats may naturally be chattier than others, while certain breeds are known for their vocalness. Some of the most vocal breeds include:

  • Bengals
  • Burmese
  • Orientals
  • Siamese
  • Japanese Bobtails
  • Sphynx
  • Turkish Vans
  • Turkish Angoras
  • Maine Coons

How Loud Are Other Cat Sounds?

Cats don’t just meow, either. Studies suggest that they can make up to 21 different vocalizations. They make other happy sounds like trills, squeaks, chatter, and purrs; each sound can vary in intensity by gender.

A 2019 study compared the length, frequency, and intensity of four common feline vocalizations by gender.

  • Trills varied in intensity from 52 dB (male) to 56 dB (female).
  • Squeaks varied in intensity from 56 dB (female) to 61 dB (male).
  • Chatters were not noted in males but were found at 50 dB for females.
  • Purrs varied in intensity from 45 dB (male) to 47 dB (female).

That said, the average cat purr is around 25 dB. Merlin, a happy little kitty from England, took the Guinness World Record for the loudest purr recorded at 67.8 dB.


Final Thoughts

Though cats are significantly quieter than dogs in general, any cat owner can tell you how loud they can feel when their meows are incessant. So if your kitty has been meowing a lot lately, remember that it is trying to communicate something with you. What is it trying to tell you? Check out this blog to find out.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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