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Why do cats meow?

ginger cat meowing advice
© Unsplash

Some felines can be extremely vocal. But what are they trying to tell you when they call and shout? You can understand a lot more about your pet by listening to a cat’s meow

By Dawn Parrish

In the first place, a meow isn’t a natural sound for a cat to make. Felines don’t meow at each other as a way of communicating. This meow cry is purely to mimic a human’s conversation. Because of this, when your cat meows loudly, she is trying to get you to notice her by communicating, especially with you. When a cat is constantly meowing, she is obviously trying to tell you something specific.

An individual cat’s meow

It’s obviously rather difficult to tell, but each cat has her own, individual voice, just like us humans do. You may have a chatterbox of a cat or possibly a cat that hardly ever makes a sound. Likewise, different breeds of cats can sound different. Similarly, cats from the Siamese breed often meow with a high-pitched wail. It is thought that a cat can make up to 30 different sounds which include more than 19 variants of the meow jangle.


Is this an angry meow? ©Pixabay

Here are 10 possible interpretations of why cat’s meow

No 1. I’m hurting

Certainly, your cat won’t yowl excessively unless there is something wrong. If her behaviour isn’t typical and she continues to meow without real reason, there could be a medical issue. Different health conditions can cause a cat to feel pain, thirsty or hungry, each situation which can make a cat cry constantly.

No 2. Just to say hello

As your cat becomes accustomed to your company, she will often meow as a greeting to say “hi”. This could be just when you meet in the house, or when you return home.

No 3. I’m hungry

This is a cat’s meow that you probably recognise more than any other. Your pet will know to yowl to ask for her dinner, especially if the meal is late.

This cat meows when she needs attention ©Pixabay

No 4. Give me some attention, please

Perhaps your pet is just giving you a nudge that she needs your attention. She will soon realise that by constantly meowing you will very soon speak to her, initiate play or pet her.

No 5. Open the door and let me in

Quite often, a cat will meow to let you know she wants to come inside. Likewise, some cats don’t like having doors inside the house closed. They prefer to walk around freely.

No 6. A mating meow

Because a female cat is in heat, she will possibly meow and howl relentlessly. One good reason to have her spayed to prevent this!

No 7. I’m feeling stressed

A cat facing a stressful situation, perhaps a visit to the Vet’s surgery, will often meow loudly.

No 8. Leave me alone – I’m annoyed

Although this situation usually warrants more of a loud yowl than a cat’s meow, if a cat is irritated or angry she will generally let you know. If she feels the position is quite threatening and there is a chance of attack, perhaps towards another feline, she can scream continuously.

No 9. Please don’t leave me alone

Often a cat that is left alone for long periods may become quite anxious. This will often result in a cat meowing constantly as she is worried or anxious.

No 10. I’m an old cat – I’m allowed to meow

As senior cats get colder, feline dementia and a loss of cognitive function can cause your cat to meow. Increased vocalisation and loud crying sounds are often more common in older felines.


Do you recognise your cat's meow? ©Pixabay

Certainly, it’s not always obvious why cat’s meow. It does help if you can recognise the different sounds your cat makes, with distinctive meanings for different occasions. Any cat owner that asks “why does my cat keep meowing?” will know that many cat sounds are different. A cat call can be of different length, volume, tone and of certainly, frequency. It takes an acute hearing to interpret when your cat is happy, or in contrast, upset.

Be observant during the changing circumstances when the cat vocalises or meows, together with the sounds she makes. Being able to understand “cat-speak” will certainly help you to understand your resident cat much better.