Any cat owner has probably wondered about what their cat would say if it could speak. When cats meow, they are speaking to you! You’ll probably have noticed that your cat has a range of different meows, each meaning something different. But, what exactly do these meows mean? Why do cats even meow in the first place?!
In this article, you will learn:
- Why cats Meow
- How to interpret your cat’s unique sounds
- Cat meow meanings; What the different types of meow could mean
Why Cats Meow
The Meow: the staple of any cat repertoire. The ‘Meow’ is simple, short and effective. A pet cat will often meow whenever their humans are around. It’s the cat’s friendly way of saying “Hello humans!”
Sometimes, cats just want to alert you to their presence and remind you of their existence.
“I am here!” is what your cat is saying! Presently announcing themselves.
The Meow has many variations that I will discuss in this post. But, remember that cats will make whatever noises or actions draw the desired attention. Many people get frustrated with their cat meowing or scratching at the door at night, for example. This encourages you to take action, the cat knows how to provoke a response. The manipulative little things!
So, actively ignoring a cat’s vocalisations will either cause them to change the tone, pitch, or volume of their meow. Or start to use the other more physical tools at their disposal. If I slept with earplugs in and didn’t hear my cat meowing in the night to respond to her, she would, no doubt, start scratching the carpet to pieces.
Clawing at a door or a carpet near a door can very effective as it gains the most attention (we humans are quite reactive when it comes to damage)
Although some see it as the cats attempt to ‘dig’ under something to gain access, but its noted that cats prefer to climb or go around obstacles rather than dig under them so it truly can be seen as the last resort of a desperate cat attempting to see what’s beyond the closed door.
Different Types of Cat’s Meow
These are just a few of the different types of meow you’ll hear your cats make, and why they could mean.
Chirping, Chirrups, and Trilling
These odd little noises, that vary from cat to cat, are learned during kittenhood.
The chattering and chirps can sound very bird-like. They’re first used by mother cats to alert kittens to pay attention or follow, and the same goes for your cat, he or she may be trying to gain your attention to get you (the human) to see something that they feel is pretty important or interesting.
So, that little chirping noise is your cat’s way of saying “follow me!” or even “Watch me!“
The chattering sound made by cats sometimes confused with chirps and trills. Chatters are usually a display of things like frustration and annoyance that they can’t follow or get to whatever it is that they can see.
It’s usually when your cat is looking through a window or looking up in to an inaccessible area at a bird or moth. They’re frustrated because they can see a perfect catch, but they can’t get to it. Cats are excellent at judging distances and have impeccable depth perception, so it’s very frustrating for them when they’re trying to hunt.
The Chatter can be mixed with the chirps or even small cries, this makes it difficult to understand exactly what your cat is trying to say. So, try to look where the cat is and what s/he is looking at and that will be your answer! They could be showing frustration because they want you to pay them attention, that’s always possible!
Now your cat really wants your attention, the long Meeeooowwwwwwww sound will be used when they’re right next to the cause of their frustration and ONLY YOU CAN SOLVE IT!
It’s either going to be a closed door or an empty food bowl in most cases.
This means that your cat is becoming really distressed, you should take it as a sign to either leave that door open or refill their food bowl more often!
Purr Crossed with a Meow
This is when you’re doing something right and the cat wants to tell you about it. A cat’s purr is a very well-known sound of a happy cat. Although, some have come to think that cats can purr while stressed because it has a comforting and healing effect on them.
Cats will often make a purr/meow sound when they’re being petted, stroked, sitting on your lap or very happy and comfortable in some other way. A cat who makes this sound a lot is a very contented cat.
Why Cats don’t Meow at Each Other
It’s simple, your cat meows for you. Kittens meow to tell their mother that they are hungry, scared or about other environmental issues that cause them discomfort. As they age, and in most cases separate from their mothers, the meow is utilised for their new ‘parent/owner’ for similar purposes as before.
Cats are usually quiet with each other and only use hisses, yowls or growls in extreme situations where the usual physical displays fail or are caught off-guard.
Neighborhood cats don’t usually cross-paths for many different reasons, usually because their owners put them out at different times of day or night, so cats tend to ‘timeshare’ their territories with each other! If your cat does spot another cat, that’s when you’re likely to hear your cat’s yowl, hiss or growl. If you’ve never heard it before, it can be quite unnerving! Your cat will also likely ‘puff themselves up’ and let all of his/her fur stand up tall, making them look bigger and scarier to other cats.
Cats who have become more socialised with use other physical signs, such as ears position, pupil dilation, slow blinking, tail position and stance to react to other cats.
Still, they do not meow at each other. The elusive meow is reserved for humans only.
Get to Know your Cat’s Meow
As your cat joins you in their new territory, he or she will soon understand that the Bi-pedal providers of food and comfort use sounds to communicate and react to sound therefore it’s probably a good idea to reflect this.
Cats are very intelligent and your cat will try his or her hardest in trying to communicate with you, so that’s why you should try your hardest to listen and understand their needs to improve your relationship.
From the start of your time with the cat, s/he will begin to associate a particular meow or other vocal cue to a particular need or alert. Sometimes they will sound the same to our mere mortal ears, but your cat will know the difference. Understanding your cat’s routine will help you to identify why you cat is meowing and what it means.
Cats can’t hold a conversation with you (no matter how much we talk to them) so most of the time your cat will take you to what s/he needs, coupling this with meows or chirps to get you to follow them (remember they are intelligent) they know that we will react to their vocal cues.
Ignoring your cat’s vocalisations will inevitably cause issues, some much worse than others. It will lead to other tactics as we’ve discussed previously, things like clawing at carpets and doors. When your cat is meowing in a prolonged way or being excessive, then they’re probably very distressed. As a responsible pet owner, you should try to find out the cause of their distress. Once you’ve eliminated everything, you could ask a vet or cat behavior expert for advice.
About Cats who Don’t Meow
Not all cats are vocal. Some cats just don’t meow, ever. Certain breeds are known for being very quiet or silent, including British and American Shorthair cats. It’s nothing to worry about, some cats, just like some people, prefer to live the quiet life 🙂
Some cats, on the other hand, prefer to do this…
Tell us About Your Cat!
Is your cat especially vocal? Does s/he have a unique sound? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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