What Sounds Do Cats Respond To?

What Sounds Do Cats Respond To?

It might seem like your cat friend doesn’t respond to anything but the can opener and their food bag being opened. But when you try calling your cat, they don’t respond and won’t give you the time of day. Do cats respond to any sound besides those that benefit them?

As it turns out, cats respond to certain human words like their names and “treats.” Because cats’ ears are very sensitive, they hear and respond more to higher-pitch sounds like a woman’s voice or meows. Cats will also come running when they hear a can opener or a crinkling bag.

It may seem that cats have selective hearing, but they do hear you when you call them, but they might not want to respond just then. There are a lot more sounds that cats respond to, so let’s get started, shall we?

Cats Understand Certain Human Words

When you’ve had your cat for more than a few months, they are bound to pick up on certain words that mean something to them. For example, if you give your kitty treats every day and say “treats” to them daily, they will know what that word means and come running. Or, if you say their name regularly when you first get your cat, they will eventually respond to their name.

As with human babies, cats will eventually learn some human words with repetition. With time, cats start understanding certain words that they often hear and associate with something beneficial. “Food,” “treats,” “snacks,” or other words that indicate food are words that cats pick up rather quickly because the object the word implies is given immediately.

They also respond to their name when used frequently. It’s not that they can distinguish words as words per se, but they associate their name and other words with human behaviors and other positive things to cats. Dogs are the same way, as well as other domesticated animals.

Babies are taught in much the same way domesticated animals can be trained for learning the language. But since cats and other animals lack the capabilities to form words and sentences, they likely won’t be able to respond to you in human language anytime soon.

Higher-Pitched Sounds Resonate With Cats Better

Cats hear at a higher frequency than humans do, so deep voices or sounds fall into the background noise for your cat. Higher voices, like a female’s voice, show up on the cat’s radar more easily. If you’ve ever tried your cat in a deep voice, then in a higher-pitched voice, you might have noticed that your cat ignores your deep voice but then recognizes your higher voice.

What Sounds Do Cats Respond To?

Cats hear sounds at 85kHZ, while humans hear at 20kHZ, meaning that sounds that you might not be able to hear will irritate your cat. Why can they hear at that frequency? It’s an evolved function for predatory animals. They have small skulls and long, funneled ears that allow them to hear the squeaking of mice, the cat’s natural enemy.

That’s why, when you use a high-pitched voice to say “here kitty, kitty,” they come running sooner than if you used a normal pitched voice.

Cats Come Running When They Hear a Can Opener

If you frequently use an electric can opener to open their food cans or get tuna when they hear that sound, they will come running when they hear you using the can opener to see if they get more food. You might be using it to prepare your dinner, but to cats, it means they get more dinner.

While this point is not usually studied scientifically, anyone who’s had cats in the past knows how willing they are to come to you when you use a can opener. Most cat food cans today, however, tend to be a pull-top can, so you won’t use a can opener for their food. But if you’ve ever opened a can of tuna and given them some of the juice, they will still know that sound and respond to it.

Cats Respond to “Cat-Like” Sounds

Each mammal is more likely to respond to their own species’ sounds than any other sounds, and your cat is no exception. If you’ve ever played a video of cats meowing for your cat, then you understand this. Your cat probably comes to the computer, looking for the other cat and, perhaps, getting frustrated that there isn’t another cat.

Purring, meowing, or hissing at your cat could create several responses. You could get a look like you’re out of your mind, or you could get a panicked look, depending on the sound you make. But cats do not respond to you making “cat-like” sounds as much as if they heard another cat, either inside or outside.

They Respond to Their Human’s Voice More Often

Cats learn to respond to their human’s voice because they get rewards if they come when called. Normally, cat parents adopt their cats as kittens and spend a lot of time talking to them, playing with them, and cuddling with them. Kittens that grow up learning to trust their human become cats who respond more often to their human’s voice.

Try this experiment: have a friend come to your home who hasn’t been there very often. Tell your friend to call your cat by name and see if it comes to your friend. Chances are not very good that it will come and will instead stay where it is at. Then, you call your cat by name. More than likely, your cat will come to you if it is not afraid of strangers.

Of course, if a cat is sleeping or not very interested in getting up right then, your cat might not come to you when called. You might try clicking your tongue or make kissing noises to see if they will come to you. Kissing noises are on a higher frequency that cats hear and respond to better. Sometimes, though, your cat just does not want to get up for anyone and will stay put.

Does Meowing At Your Cat Cause Them to Respond?

Humans meowing at their cats is like a human baby trying to speak the language it hasn’t mastered yet. It’s all gibberish and doesn’t make sense. When you meow to your cat, does it look at you like you don’t make any sense? Or does it ignore and go back to its nap?

Humans can meow or make noises like their cats, but to them, the meowing is most likely gibberish. However, there are times when cats will respond and will go back and forth with their humans in a meowing contest. But that might be a cat trying to educate their human in the finer points of the cat language.

At any rate, cats might respond to your meowing if they feel like it. If they don’t, well…they don’t.


Cats respond to several sounds when they feel like it. As they are fiercely independent, they get up and come to you on their own time. While they are social creatures, they still like to be the boss in their homes and territories.

Remember that cats hear on a higher frequency, so if you want them to come to you, try making kissing sounds or clicking your tongue. They can also be very sensitive to loud noises, which might drive a cat into hiding until the loudness is over.

Yelling will cause your cat to either hide or come at you with their own yelling.