Do Owls Make Cat Noises?

Have you ever heard an owl make a meowing sound like a cat? It’s a curious question that has puzzled many bird and animal enthusiasts for years. Owls are known to make hoots, screeches, and other sounds, but can they really mimic the sound of a feline?

Believe it or not, hearing an owl make cat-like noises is not uncommon. These nocturnal creatures have an impressive ability to imitate sounds and can mimic a wide range of animals, including cats. However, the reasons behind why they do it might surprise you.

Contrary to popular belief, an owl making cat-like noises doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trying to communicate with their feline counterparts. In reality, it could be as simple as the owl practicing its vocalizations or trying to attract a mate.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the intriguing question “Do owls make cat noises?” We’ll explore the science behind why these birds can mimic other animals and what these sounds might signify. Plus, we’ll highlight some of the common cat-like sounds that owls can make and provide examples of when and why they might use them.

So if you’re ready to learn more about this fascinating aspect of owl behavior, keep reading.

The Different Types of Owl Sounds

Owls are known for their unique vocalizations, and each species has its own distinct calls and sounds. These sounds are used for communication, identification, territorial defense, and mating purposes. There are different types of owl sounds, and understanding these sounds can help to distinguish them from other animals and identify specific types of owls based on their calls.

The Hoot

One of the most recognizable owl sounds is the hoot. Great horned owls are known for their deep and resonant hoots that can carry for miles. On the other hand, the barn owl emits a distinctive screech that sounds like a high-pitched scream. Owls use hoots as a means of communication with other owls or to attract mates.

The Screech

Apart from hoots, some owls produce sounds that resemble cat noises. The eastern screech owl has a trill that sounds like a cat’s purr or meow. Meanwhile, the western screech owl can make a sound that resembles a kitten’s mew. However, the screech is usually made by smaller owls such as the eastern screech-owl and the western screech-owl. It is a high-pitched, piercing sound that can be heard from a distance.

The Hiss

Another owl sound that is commonly mistaken for a cat noise is the hiss. Larger owls such as the great horned owl and the barred owl make this sound. It is a low, raspy sound that is often accompanied by a bill snap or beak clacking. The hiss can be used as a warning signal to predators or other owls to stay away from their territory.

Whistles, Trills, and Barks

In addition to hoots, screeches, and hisses, owls can also produce whistles, trills, and even barks. These sounds are unique to different species of owls and can be used to identify them based on their calls. For example, the barn owl produces a distinctive hissing screech that has been compared to the sound of steam escaping from a pipe.

Unique Sounds

Every species of owl has its own unique sounds that are specific to them. For instance, the great grey owl makes a deep whoop sound that can travel for miles. The elf owl produces a sharp “whinny” sound. Understanding these unique sounds can help to identify specific species of owls.

In conclusion, owls make a variety of sounds that are unique to their species. While some of these sounds may resemble cat noises, they serve a different purpose and are not produced in the same context as cat sounds.

Do All Owls Make Cat Noises?

Owls are fascinating creatures that have long captivated people with their mysterious and wise image. When it comes to their vocalizations, many people are under the impression that all owls make cat-like noises. However, this is a common misconception – not all owls produce sounds that resemble those of cats.

It’s important to note that each owl species has its own unique calls and sounds that serve various purposes. While some owls may produce noises that sound like meows or purrs, these sounds are typically used for communication within their own species or for territorial purposes.

For example, the Eastern Screech-Owl is a small owl found throughout much of North America that may produce cat-like noises. Its distinctive call can sound like a horse whinny or a cat meowing, but not all individuals within this species produce these sounds. Factors such as age and sex can also influence the variation in their calls.

In contrast, other owl species such as the Great Horned Owl or the Barn Owl don’t typically make cat noises. Instead, they produce unique calls specific to their species that can vary depending on the situation. The Great Horned Owl produces deep and resonant hoots, while the Barn Owl produces eerie screeches.

The Eastern Screech Owl’s Meowing Sound

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This small owl species found in the eastern parts of North America has a unique and distinctive meow that has often been compared to that of a cat’s.

But before we dive into this fascinating topic, let’s clear up a common misconception – not all owls make cat-like noises. While some species may produce meow-like sounds, others have unique calls that vary depending on factors such as age and sex.

Now, let’s explore the Eastern Screech Owl’s meowing sound. These birds use it as a common way to communicate with each other. During mating season, these calls are often louder and more frequent as a way to attract potential mates. The meowing sound is also used as a warning signal to alert other owls of potential danger in the area.

What’s interesting is that the pitch and volume of the meowing sound can vary depending on the situation. During times of danger, the calls may be softer and less frequent, while during mating season, they are louder and more frequent.

Despite its similarity to a cat’s meow, it’s important to note that the Eastern Screech Owl’s meowing sound is still distinctly different from that of a cat. Owls and cats may share some similarities in their vocalizations, but they have evolved to communicate in different ways.

In addition to their meowing sound, Eastern Screech Owls communicate through various other vocalizations such as hoots, trills, and whinnies. These birds also use non-vocal cues such as head movements and body postures to convey their messages.

Understanding the Difference Between an Owl’s Hoot and a Cat’s Meow

Although these sounds may seem similar, there are clear differences that set them apart. As an expert in animal vocalizations, let me enlighten you on the dissimilarities between an owl’s hoot and a cat’s meow.

First and foremost, the most noticeable difference is the pitch of these sounds. Owls produce a deep, resonant hoot that carries over long distances. Their unique vocal structure allows them to produce low-frequency sounds that are well-suited for communication and territorial defense. Meanwhile, cats have a higher-pitched meow that is more suitable for close-range communication with humans and other cats.

In addition to pitch, the rhythm and pattern of these sounds differ significantly. Owls tend to hoot in a repetitive pattern, with several hoots in quick succession followed by a pause. This rhythmic pattern can vary depending on the species of owl, but it is generally more consistent than a cat’s meow. A cat’s meow can take on various tones and pitches depending on the context, ranging from a high-pitched squeak to a low growl.

Furthermore, understanding why these animals make these sounds provides insight into their behavior. For owls, hooting is primarily used for communication and territorial defense. By hooting loudly and consistently, an owl can stake its claim on a particular area and warn other owls to stay away. On the other hand, cats use their meows to communicate with humans and other cats when they need attention or food.

Why Cats and Humans Should Be Careful Around Owls

Owls are magnificent creatures that have captured the hearts of many for centuries, but they can also be a danger to both cats and humans. With their sharp talons and beaks, owls can cause serious harm to cats who venture outside at night. It’s important for cat owners to take precautions and keep their pets indoors or supervised when outside to reduce the risk of an owl attack.

Humans should also exercise caution around owls, especially near their nesting sites or young ones. Owls are known to attack humans who get too close, so it’s best to admire them from a safe distance. Trying to touch or handle an owl can result in serious injuries from their sharp talons and beaks.

Owls also make noises that can be confusing for both cats and humans. Their hooting can resemble the sounds of a distressed cat, leading curious felines to approach them. Humans may also mistake the noise for a cat in distress and attempt to intervene, putting themselves at risk of an owl attack.

To ensure everyone’s safety, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep your cats indoors at night or supervise them closely when they’re outside.
  • Avoid getting too close to owl nesting sites or young ones.
  • Do not attempt to touch or handle an owl.
  • Be mindful of the noises owls make and avoid mistaking them for cats in distress.

How to Identify an Eastern Screech Owl

These small owls can be found throughout North America and are known for their unique calls that can sometimes be mistaken for a cat’s meow. Here are some tips on how to identify an Eastern Screech Owl:

Size and Features

One of the most noticeable features of the Eastern Screech Owl is its size. They are small, with a body length of only 6-10 inches and a wingspan of 18-24 inches. They have a rounded head with large, yellow eyes, and no ear tufts. Eastern Screech Owls can be either reddish-brown or gray in color, and they have intricate patterns on their feathers that can help them blend in with their surroundings.

Listen to Their Calls

The Eastern Screech Owl’s call is unique, consisting of trills and whinnies that sound similar to a horse or cat. However, it’s essential to note that while they may make noises resembling cats, they do not actually make cat noises. By listening to their calls, you can differentiate them from other owl species.

Check Their Habitat

Eastern Screech Owls prefer wooded areas, parks, and suburban areas with trees. They also tend to roost in tree cavities or nest boxes. If you have a birdhouse or owl box in your yard, there is a possibility that one may be living there.

Consult With an Expert

If you’re having trouble identifying an Eastern Screech Owl, it may be helpful to use a field guide or consult with a local bird expert. They can provide more detailed information about the specific characteristics of Eastern Screech Owls and help you differentiate them from other owl species.

Remember Their Importance

Owls are essential for maintaining ecological balance and controlling rodent populations. By correctly identifying these fascinating creatures, we can better appreciate their role in the ecosystem and work towards protecting them.

Common Misconceptions About Owls Making Cat Noises

While it’s true that certain owl species produce sounds that may resemble cat noises, such as the screech owl’s high-pitched whistles or the barn owl’s hissing, it’s crucial to note that these sounds are not identical to those made by cats.

So why do people mistakenly think owls sound like cats? Perhaps due to a lack of awareness about the distinct vocalizations of different owl species. It’s essential to remember that these sounds are exclusive to each species and not interchangeable with those of felines.

Moreover, not all owls are nocturnal creatures that hoot all night long. Some, such as the burrowing owl, are active during the day and are diurnal. Additionally, some nocturnal owl species make clicking or whistling sounds instead of hooting, like the pygmy owl.

Lastly, let’s debunk the myth that all owls are solitary animals. While some prefer to live alone, others live in communal roosts or hunt in pairs or small groups. Each species has its unique social structure and behaviors.

Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe From Owls

Owls are fascinating creatures, but they can pose a serious threat to your cat’s safety. In this blog post, I will provide you with some crucial tips on how to keep your cat safe from owls.

Keep Your Cat Indoors at Night

The easiest and most effective way to keep your cat safe from owls is to keep them indoors at night. Owls are nocturnal creatures and tend to hunt during the night, so keeping your cat inside can minimize the risk of them being attacked. This will not only protect them from predators but also from other hazards such as cars and diseases.

Supervise Your Cat When Outdoors

If you do allow your cat outside, it’s crucial to supervise them. Keep an eye on them and make sure they are not wandering too far from home. Consider using a leash or harness to keep them close.

Provide a Safe Shelter for Your Cat

Owls are most active at night, so it’s important to provide your cat with a safe shelter to sleep in at night. This can be a covered porch or enclosed area where they can sleep safely. By providing a safe shelter, you can minimize the risk of your cat being attacked by an owl.

Trim Trees and Shrubs Around Your Property

Owls often perch in trees and shrubs, so it’s important to trim them back to reduce hiding spots for predators. This will make it difficult for owls to perch and hide while waiting for their prey.

Install Motion-Activated Lights

Installing motion-activated lights in your yard can help deter owls and other predators from approaching. This will make it less likely for owls to come near your property and potentially harm your cat. Motion-activated lights can be an effective way to keep your property safe from predators.


In conclusion, the answer to the intriguing question “Do owls make cat noises?” is both yes and no. While some owl species can produce sounds that resemble cats, such as the Eastern Screech Owl’s meowing sound or the screech owl’s high-pitched whistles, these sounds are unique to each species and serve different purposes.

By understanding the various types of owl sounds, we can identify specific species and their behaviors. Owls are fascinating creatures with distinct vocalizations used for communication, territorial defense, and mating purposes.

It is crucial to keep our feline friends safe from owls by taking necessary precautions such as keeping them indoors at night, supervising them when outside, providing a secure shelter, trimming trees and shrubs around your property, and installing motion-activated lights.

Debunking common misconceptions about owls making cat noises and learning how to identify specific owl species’ calls can help us appreciate these magnificent creatures’ role in maintaining ecological balance. Owls play a vital role in controlling rodent populations and contribute significantly to our ecosystem’s health.

So next time you hear an eerie hoot or a haunting screech in the night sky, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of these majestic birds.