Why Do Cats Say No and Nom? (The True Meaning)

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Ever wondered why your furry friend starts to chatter, almost sounding like they’re saying “No” or “Nom nom nom“? Perhaps you’ve noticed it when they’re focused on their meal, or when they’re fervently expressing disapproval. Why do cats do this?

The Short Answer

Cats communicate through a variety of sounds, and these “no” or “nom” noises are part of their unique language. These sounds may be responses to stimuli, and the “nom” sound might be a subtle form of growling during feeding, indicating some level of food possession or insecurity.

With a diverse range of vocalizations, understanding your cat’s language can be a fascinating journey. Let’s explore this cute, quirky side of feline communication together!

gray cat eating food from the sidewalk

Why Do Cats Make Weird Sounds?

Cats have a diverse array of sounds in their communication arsenal.

Cats, much like humans, have different tones, pitches, and volumes for different situations.

Aside from the “no” and “nom” sounds, cats commonly purr, meow, hiss, chirp, and growl. Each sound has different connotations and is used by cats to express various emotions or reactions.

Here are some common cat sounds to know:

  • Purr: Contentment
  • Hiss: Threatened or scared
  • Chirp: Excited or interested
  • Growl: Displeased or agitated
  • ‘Nom Nom’ or ‘No’: Eating or expressing disapproval

These sounds are their way of expressing emotions, needs, or responses to their environment. Some noises may seem strange to us, but they are perfectly normal in the world of cats. 

Understanding these sounds can help you better connect with your feline companion and respond to their needs more effectively. One of those is “no no no” or “nom nom nom”.

Why Does Your Cat Say “No” or “Nom”?

Believe it or not, when your cat appears to be saying “No,” it’s not because they suddenly developed an understanding of human language.

Often, this noise is a form of vocalization that cats use to express disapproval, discomfort, or even fear. Similarly, if you notice your cat making a “nom nom nom” sound while eating, it’s usually a sign of insecurity, and it’s actually a growl. 

Cats are known to make this noise when they are enjoying their food, a bit like how humans might hum happily when relishing a meal. However, this ‘nom nom nom’ sound during eating might be misunderstood as contentment, while it’s actually a subtle growl indicating food possession or insecurity.

Remember, every cat is unique, so these sounds can vary depending on the individual personality of your feline friend.

Why Do Cats Say “Nom” While Eating?

Cats saying ‘nom’ while eating is less about expressing contentment and more about a possible sense of food possession or insecurity. It’s an intriguing aspect of feline communication that tends to be misunderstood.

This sound – a subtle growl disguised by munching – might be the cat’s way of indicating it doesn’t want to be disturbed during mealtime. Not all cats express this, as feline behaviors can vary widely. Some might remain silent, while others may vocalize differently.

Most of the time, it’s considered a growl, similar to how they growl when playing with toys. It does look cute, but it’s still a growl.

Always remember that each cat is unique, and understanding their individual communication patterns is key to building a strong bond with your feline friend.

Is the Sound ‘Nom Nom’ Pleasing to Cats?

The ‘nom nom’ sound made by some cats during eating isn’t exactly an indication of their pleasure or satisfaction. Rather, it could be a transformed version of a possessive growl, altered by the action of chewing and swallowing.

When a cat makes a ‘nom’ sound while eating, it may indicate a certain level of food insecurity – a concern that their food might be taken away. Therefore, it’s important to understand that this sound may be a sign your cat needs some space during meal times.

Can I Train My Cat to Say “No”?

Training a cat to vocalize specific words like “no” can be a rather challenging endeavor.

Unlike dogs, cats don’t naturally mimic human speech patterns. However, with patience and positive reinforcement, you can shape their behavior to some extent.

For instance, you may notice that your cat makes a specific sound or noise in response to certain actions or events. Reinforcing this behavior through rewards could potentially lead to a conditioned response. How to do this? Well through positive reinforcement, of course!

You’ll reward your cat with a treat or petting every time your cat does a sound you prefer, which will make the cat associate this behavior with a reward. Eventually, you can create the command from this, if you’re consistent and lucky.

Nonetheless, remember that cats have a distinct way of communicating, and it might not exactly match human speech.

Recommended Products to Understand Your Cat Better

  • ‘How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language’ by Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman: This National Geographic book provides an interactive and fun way to understand feline communication, ideal for first-time cat owners.
  • PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser: An engaging toy that stimulates your cat’s hunting instincts. By observing your cat’s behavior with this toy, you can learn more about their vocalizations and body language in different scenarios. Note: Not all cats will engage this toy 100%, but a large majority will, and it’s also cheap as hell.


Do all cats vocalize the same way?

Cats, much like humans, have their unique ways of communicating. The variety in their vocalizations can be influenced by breed, individual personality, and even their socialization experiences.

Do cats understand when we say “no”?

Cats may not understand the word “no” as humans do. However, they can associate the tone and context in which it’s used with a negative response. Consistent use can lead to a learned behavior, where the cat understands that “no” is linked to stopping of a certain activity.

How can I tell if my cat is upset or content?

Observing your cat’s body language is key in understanding their emotional state. Purring, relaxed body, slow blinking, and kneading are signs of a content cat. Conversely, hissing, flattened ears, dilated pupils, and a swishing tail often indicate that your cat is upset.

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