Cats communicate vocally by meowing, hissing, purring and yowling. Cats also chudder. A chudder is generally perceived as a friendly greeting. Cats will also chudder when given attention and even sleeping cats have been said to chudder when contented. By imitating a chudder, you can usually elicit some favorable responses from your cat.
What is a chudder? It is a close-mouthed grunt that originates from the back of the throat and combines a purr with a mew.
According to Merriam-Webster:
chudder(noun) : a throaty, trilling vocalization used by domestic cats and tigers as a greeting. Sometimes rendered as the onomatopoeias ‘mrrt’ or ‘prrt’ or described as a ‘purry meow’. Verb form: The act of producing a chudder.
When I learned of this particular type of catspeak, I decided to experiment with it.
I noticed one of my cats would chudder when she knew I was about to feed her or she jumped into my lap or she rolled over for me to rub her belly – definitely a sign of contentment and trust. Like all conscientious cat owners who mimic their cats and talk back to them, I decided to try answering in kind. My deep-throated hum proved to indeed have a positive affect and my cat would inevitably chudder back her approval.
My cat and I carry on extensive conversations by chuddering at each other. I will experiment with modulating my pitch and tone to determine if various inflections mean different things. Sometimes, my cat will cock her head at me as if to say “What did you say?”. Other times, I think I may be sending some kind of love message, because she will start kneading or give me little affectionate head nudges. Then again, there are times she will head for the food bowl, so I might be saying “Want to eat?” I haven’t quite figured out exactly what I am communicating by changing the tone or pitch yet, but a longer chudder seems to indicate I want to give her more attention and a short, sweet chudder seems to mean everything is good.
I have never heard my other cat chudder, she seems to prefer the small, open-mouth mew, but if I chudder at her, it must signal playtime. She comes running, full of hijinks, and throws herself at my feet.
In my experience and experimentation, chuddering produces different reactions in individual cats, but it always communicates friendliness and trust, never hostility. So you want to be your cat’s best friend? Or maybe you want to befriend a standoffish cat or feed a scared stray. Just chudder.
Chudder | Reference.com