Meow! Meow! I wonder if my human has noticed my meowing? We cats often meow as a form of communication when we want to say hello, tell you that we want something or even that there's something wrong!
Meowing is something that we tend to reserve for our favourite humans rather than other furry friends, and along with our body language, it's our way of letting you know how we're feeling.
Some cat breeds - and some cat personalities - are more talkative than others; my Siamese friend is very vocal about how he's feeling!
A little more about why I 'meow!' so often
When I was in the litter, I used to do a little kitten 'meow!' (often called a 'mew') to let my mother know that I was hungry or cold. But when I moved to my new forever-home with my human parents, I realised that I could try and communicate in the same way to get their attention and let them know that I want something! It's more effective than just communicating through body language alone.
Meowing is the easiest way to get my human parents to do something for me - in fact, I think I have them wrapped around my little paw! They find it cute when I communicate with them in this way and will often stroke me around the ears, and give me more playtime with my favourite toy or a small treat when I meow at them for long enough.
Us cats tend to use other forms of vocalisation to communicate with our feline friends - such as hissing, yowling, our pheromones, body language, and facial expressions.
Here's when you might hear me meow!
- I like to meow my greeting! If you've been out for the day, or just when I've not seen you for a little while because I've been exploring outside, I like to say 'Hi!' If you say hello back to me, I'll often speak back because I'm happy to see you! I'm interested in what you have to say and I like to let you know!
- When I want some attention! Sometimes you might notice that I meow when I'm feeling like I need some attention from my favourite human; perhaps I want to play a game or be stroked behind my ears. I particularly like to do this when my human parent is engrossed in looking at the computer so that she gets a break from the screen and can play with me instead. I quite often sit on the keyboard too - just to make sure she gets the message!
- It's time for food‚ I love my tasty treats so sometimes I simply meow to request a little snack! Although I know I'm not allowed too many snacks in a day because my human parent is careful to feed me the right amount; when they venture into the kitchen I get hopeful that there might be some food for me too. She sometimes cheats a little and gives me some of my kibble as a treat - but I don't mind, she's only looking after my sleek feline figure! I also like to remind my human about breakfast in the morning by greeting them with a big meow!
- Sometimes I want to go outside or come back into the house so I need to get her attention - I meow next to the door or in a certain place to let her know what I'm thinking.
- Have you noticed that older kitties sometimes meow! for no apparent reason? My kitty friend Bob down the road has certainly become a bit more vocal in his old age. Apparently older cats do this as their brain changes when they get older and if this is during the night it can often sound plaintive.
- Sometimes we cats meow! because we're uncomfortable; we might do it to let you know we're feeling stressed (for example, when we have to go in the car to the vet - I don't enjoy that!) or even if we're in pain. Our meow might vary when we're in pain, depending on the cat - it could be a loud high-pitched meow! or a quiet meow! depending on the situation.
Listen carefully to our 'Meow!'
Kitties make all sorts of different sounding meows! Our human parents often know what our meow means - whether we are hungry, want attention, or just want to be let out - so they'll often recognise if our meow has changed or we're meowing more often than usual. If that's the case then it's best to take us to the vet for a check up to rule out any underlying medical reason - for example kitties that meow for food more than usual could have an increased appetite associated with hyperthyroidism.
Sometimes I get a bit carried away with my meowing Sometimes I do it to try and get a few extra treats! But, my human parent knows not to give me too many treats or too much attention every time I meow! Instead they wait until I am calm and quiet - but that doesn't stop me trying!
My human parent has also started giving me new food challenges like the activity feeder so it takes me longer to eat my food and I don't immediately meow for more! They've also just installed a microchip-controlled cat flap so I can come and go when I please and, as only I have the microchip, other cats can't get into the house. Result!
How to respond to meowing!
We cat's don't like to be ignored - so please respond to our meow! (unless you're trying to reduce your feline friend's meowing, or you really can't understand what they're asking for). Usually, though (unless we know there are treats!), we're meowing for a good reason and are trying to tell you something. If your kitty is distressed or unhappy, try and resolve the situation as soon as possible.
For situations that we find difficult, FELIWAY Optimum can help support us and provide reassurance - I was feeling a bit out of sorts when my human parents introduced a new kitten into the home but since they plugged FELIWAY in I've been feeling much more serene and don't worry about the kitten so much.
Make sure you never punish a kitty for meowing as this will just be confusing for them and damage your friendship - we cats only respond to positive reinforcements.
How many of these different kitty sounds have you spotted?
- Chattering - we often do this if we see prey but aren't able to get to it. It's very frustrating watching the birds through the window and not being able to pounce!
- Chirrup - a short trilling 'hello' sound. Although mummy cats use this to call for their kittens, we cats sometimes also use it to greet humans. Next time you hear it, try returning this sound when they chirrup to you!
- Yowling - similar to meowing but more drawn out and melodic, this sound signifies we're trying to find a mate. Kitties that haven't yet been neutered are more likely to yowl during mating season to attract a potential mate or when they've detected a mate. An unneutered female will come into heat every 18-24 days during the breeding season so consider getting female cats spayed if you don't wish to have kittens!
- Growling - take a step back when you hear us growl, often accompanied by a low pitched meow, as this is a warning that we're feeling threatened and may need to protect ourselves.
- Hissing - this is also a sign that we'd like to be left alone and a warning to give us some space!
- Purring - usually we purr when we're feeling very content, but it can sometimes mean we're stressed and trying to calm ourselves.
- Have you noticed the silent meow? It looks like we're meowing but you can't hear us - this is because the frequency is too high for humans to hear!