All cats are different and each cat has his or her own preferences. That said, there are some noises that most cats hate. In this article we identify sounds cats hate and investigate why they hate them.

Common Sounds Cats Hate

Before we dive into the details, here’s a quick list of common sounds cats hate and find annoying or unpleasant:

  • Loud, unexpected noises
  • High-pitched / high-frequency sounds
  • Growling and barking
  • Hissing
  • Fireworks
  • Thunderstorms
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Lawnmowers and other gardening tools
  • And many more
frightened black cat

Types of sounds cats hate

Sudden, loud noises

You can probably tell from the above list of examples that noises cats dislike have a lot in common, with a few exceptions. Cats don’t like, and are often scared of, sudden loud noises. These include the likes of bangs, crashes, shouts and barks.

Why cats don’t like sudden, loud noises

Cats associate loud, sudden noises with danger. This is understandable. A lot of dangerous things are loud e.g. attacking predators, falling objects and heavy vehicles. Being scared by loud, unexpected noises and reacting to them (e.g. fleeing) is a cat survival instinct.

High-frequency / high-pitched sounds

High-pitched noises such whistling kettles, sirens and some phone sounds are examples of sounds that cats hate. Sometimes cats will pick up high-pitched sounds that we don’t even hear.

These include noises coming from electrical devices such as televisions, computers and fluorescent lighting.

Why cats don’t like high pitched sounds

Cats have very sensitive hearing and pick up higher-pitched sounds better than humans and even dogs. These sorts of noises are likely to make a cat feel vulnerable, put them on high-alert and annoy them.

Hissing sounds

Hissing sounds, e.g. other cats and animals hissing, humans mimicking hissing and hisses from speakers and appliances, are likely to frighten or annoy cats.

Why cats don’t like hissing sounds

If a cat is feeling territorial or threatened by other cats or animals, they will often hiss as a warning before choosing to flee or attack. If a cat hears a hissing sound, they’re naturally likely to associate it with a potential danger or attack.

a scared cat hiding

Growling sounds

Similarly to hissing sounds, growling sounds are likely to frighten or annoy cats.

Why cats don’t like growling sounds

As well as cats themselves, animals including dogs, wolves, badgers and foxes use growling as an aggressive warning to other animals. Cats are, therefore, naturally likely to associate growling sounds with potential danger.

New and unfamiliar sounds

Many cats dislike noises they haven’t heard before. These sounds can come in many forms. For example, they could be unfamiliar voices, strange noises from appliances or sounds from other creatures.

Why cats don’t like new and unfamiliar sounds

New and unfamiliar sounds can be stressful for cats because they’re distracting yet they don’t understand them. They may wonder where the noises are coming from and if they’re a danger. An unfamiliar noise could represent a new threat and upset the comfort of a usually safe-feeling environment.

Breakdown of common sounds and noises cats hate

Vacuum Cleaner Noise

Many cat owners know that when they start vacuum cleaning a room, their cat will scarper. This is because the noise that comes with vacuum cleaning is usually loud and startling to cats.

Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are very stressful to cats for a variety of reasons. The sounds of thunder are loud and come at random intervals which startle and frighten cats. During a thunderstorm, you can expect your cat to hide away in a place it feels safe.

Fireworks

Fireworks create a combination of noises that cats hate. They make loud bangs, they make long, high-pitched screeching noises, they hiss and crack. Plus, they happen suddenly, unexpectedly and regularly. As discussed above, these are the types of sounds that frighten and annoy cats.

Many cat owners come to dislike the likes of Bonfire Night, New Year’s Eve and other events that involve fireworks. The fireworks put stress on their furry friends and they have to put measures in place to comfort their pets.

Barking

The most common barking sounds that your cat is likely to experience is those of a barking dog. A barking sound is unpleasant to a cat for multiple reasons. Firstly, it is loud and sudden which we have established startles and frightens cats.

Secondly, barking is often a sign of danger to a cat. A barking dog, for example, can be seen as a threat to a cat and is likely to make them feel frightened or defensive.

Growling

Similarly to barking, cats dislike the sound of growling and noises that sound like growling (e.g. grunting and low, rumbling sounds). Cats associate growls with threats and dangers e.g. the threat of attack by dogs, wolves or other cats.

Growling sounds are likely to make a cat frightened, defensive or aggressive.

Banging

Banging sounds come from many sources e.g. doors slamming, loud knocking, hammering, heavy items being dropped, somebody falling over and so on. Whatever the source, banging sounds are likely to startle and stress your cat.

Aerosol spraying

If you spray aerosol, e.g. deodorant or hairspray, near a cat, the cat will possibly become shocked and run away. One possible reason for this is that the aerosol sounds like hissing which cats associate with danger.

They may also dislike the smells of aerosols and the sharp, cold blasts they give out.

Opening fizzy drinks

Opening fizzy drinks cans or bottles usually results in short, sharp hissing sounds which cats don’t like. What’s more, the poor puss might get sprayed with a bit of liquid which can be shocking and irritating.

Loud music

As we previously mentioned, cats have very sensitive hearing. This means that music that is loud to us sounds even louder to our feline friends. Loud music can cause anxiety and stress to cats.

If you own a cat, you may find your cat moving to another room or hiding if you start blasting out loud music.

What’s more, prolonged exposure to loud music can be bad for your cat’s health. Loud music exposure is associated with health issues for cats including hearing loss, hypertension, heart palpitations, digestive issues and seizures.

Be mindful of your cat’s mood and health when considering playing loud music.

Loud instruments e.g. electric guitar and drums

As mentioned above, cats often don’t like loud music. Loud music includes instrument noise you make yourself by playing the likes of electric guitars or drums.

Electric guitars create loud noise through speakers and high-pitched noises too (including horrible screeching feedback sounds).

Playing drums creates loud and sudden banging sounds as well as high-pitched sounds from cymbal hits. These sounds can be unpleasant to cats because of their sensitive hearing.

If you’re a musician who plays a loud instrument, you may want to look into sound proofing your practice room to protect your cat (and your neighbours!). If you’re a drummer, an electronic kit is likely to be kinder on your kitty’s ears than an acoustic set.

Balloons popping

The sound of a balloon popping is loud, startling and unexpected. A balloon popping can easily make a human jump and the same can be said for cats. If a balloon pops near a cat, you can expect them to jump and flee.

Noises from electrical devices

As we mentioned previously, some electrical devices such as televisions, computers and fluorescent lighting emit high-frequency sounds. Even remote controllers emit high-pitched noises.

These sounds can be unpleasant to cats because of our furry friends’ sensitive hearing.

Doorbell ringing

The ring of a doorbell is a good example of a sudden, loud noise which cats don’t like. The unexpected sound can make a cat frightened or uncomfortable.

The doorbell ringing sound is also associated with the unknown because it usually follows with an unexpected person being in a cat’s territory. This can add to a cat’s negative association to the sound.

Loud vehicle noises

Vehicles can create loud, sudden noises that many cats find frightening. Some vehicle sounds can be particularly loud and startling to cats.

Common offenders include bin lorries (AKA garbage trucks), motorcycles and backfiring exhausts.

Vehicles are, of course, dangerous to cats so being scared of such sounds is important to their survival.

Shouting and arguments

Arguments usually involve shouting. Cats don’t like shouts because they’re loud sudden sounds which are likely to make them feel stressed or anxious. Arguments may also come with other unpleasant noises like the sounds of banging doors or items getting thrown.

When an argument occurs, a cat may even assume that the aggression and shouting is aimed at them. This can make them frightened.

What’s more, arguments break the calm, safe feeling of a home environments for cats and make them suddenly alert and uncomfortable.

During a loud argument, cats will often flee, hide, meow or carry out destructive behaviours like causing damage or messing where they shouldn’t.

Some lucky humans may find their cats coming to comfort them during or after an argument.

Lawnmowers & other gardening tools

Lawnmowers and other gardening tools such as strimmers, leaf blowers and chainsaws make quite a lot of noise which cats don’t like. The noises of these tools can be startling and stressful to cats.

The dislike of such noises can be even more pronounced if a cat hasn’t become accustomed to them from a young age.

Washing machines and other household appliances

Washing machines and other kitchen and household appliances can create loud and stressful noises that cats dislike. Noisy household appliances creating such noises include, but aren’t exclusive to:

  • Washing machines
  • Vacuum machines
  • Hair dryers
  • Blenders
  • Tumble dryers
  • Printers
  • Kettles

Babies crying

The sounds of a baby crying can be stressful to some cats. This is unsurprising because a baby’s cries are often loud and high-pitched. On top of that, if the baby is a new arrival, the cat won’t be used to the drastic changes to its environment yet.

The sounds of babies crying are also similar to the sounds of cats fighting which your cat may associate with conflict and danger.

Despite the above, some lucky cat owners have cats that will comfort crying babies and children.

Gunshots

As sudden and loud noises go, they don’t get much more extreme than a gunshot. Unsurprisingly, the loud sound emitted by a gunshot is likely to startle and frighten a cat, much like it would a human or other animal.

Sounds cats hate – final thoughts

Unfortunately there are a lot of noises and sounds that cats hate. The common themes with these sounds is that they’re usually loud, unexpected, high-pitched, come across as threatening to our feline friends or a combination of the above.

Usual cat reactions to such sounds include fleeing, hiding, meowing and aggressive, defensive or destructive behaviour.

While sounds cats hate are sometimes unavoidable, it’s the duty of a cat owner to do the best they can to protect their little friends from unnecessary unpleasant noise around cats. Doing so will help the cat to have a happier, and possibly longer, life.

For more help and guidance on cats, be sure to see our other cat articles which cover topics such as diet, hydration and preferences.

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