fbpx Skip to Content

Why Do Cats Meow?

Why Do Cats Meow?

Sharing is caring!

If only cats could talk! Does it ever seem like your cat is trying to talk to you? It’s because they are.

Keep reading to learn why cats meow and what different meows mean.

Meowing is exclusively for humans

Meowing is a unique way to communicate with humans. Cats do not meow with other cats.

They might hiss or chatter with other cats, but “Meow” is a special language to communicate with us.

They even have different kinds of meows to tell us what they want.

Cats may seem like they don’t care, but they desperately want our attention. Meowing is a cat’s way of saying “Hey, I need to talk to you!”

Since adult cats don’t meow around other cats, this suggests that meows are mostly for communicating with humans.

Kittens meow to communicate with their mothers, but this stops once they reach adulthood unless they are exposed to humans.

The Baby Crying Theory

The meow wasn’t always around. When cats and early humans were first developing their relationship, cats needed a way to communicate with humans.

One theory some scientists believe is that cats learned how to meow because it sounds like a human baby crying.

They believe cats learned to mimic human babies to get attention. It’s an interesting idea to think about!

However, it’s possible that the meow wasn’t entirely developed for humans.

Other scientists believe that cats just naturally developed a noise to signal that they want something and this gave rise to the “meow”.

SURVEY: Do You Consider Your Cats Family?

SURVEY: Do You Consider Cats Family?

Your opinion matters!

  • Please provide your email address to complete survey.

Not all “meows” mean the same thing. There are different kinds of meows cats use to tell you what they want. Keep reading to learn how to understand why your cat is meowing.

Meow means “Hello”

Meow can be a way to say hello to you when you come home from work or enter a room. This meow will sound soft and subtle.

Meow means “I’m hungry.”

A repetetive and desperate sounding meow paired with a nice nip on your ankle means your cat is hungry and wants to be fed.

Meow means “Give me attention”

The same tone of meows for hunger are similar to the meows that seek attention.

Sometimes attention seeking meows are more playful, but your cat will still stalk you and swat or nip your leg to signal they want to play.

Check to see if their food bowl is full to make sure they’re not just hungry.

Meow means “Help me”

Cats can’t tell you when they are in pain. It is up to us to play close attention to our cats and determine if they are experiencing discomfort.

Cats can signal they’re hurt or sick with a wide range of meows. Sometimes these meows are deeper than their normal meow and sound like they are moaning.

Usually meows from pain, depression, or anxiety are distinctly lower and last longer.

But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes they signal they are in pain with their normal meow but their body language seems mopey and slow.

Always be attentive of your cat’s body language and take note of any behavior that is unusual for them.

Cats with hypertension or feline hyperethersia syndrome will meow more often to signal their discomfort. This is not always obvious.

Also, vision and hearing loss will cause your cat to meow frequently. If your cat is meowing more than usual, take them to your local vet to determine if there is an underlying condition causing them pain.

Why doesn’t my cat meow?

Since meowing is a unique language cats use to communicate with humans, cats that were not raised around humans do not feel the need to meow.

Feral kittens are young enough to learn to meow, but feral adult cats will not meow after being adopted.

It is important to pay even closer attention to cats that were formally feral because they struggle to communicate their feelings or discomfort to their owners.

Also, some cats are simply quieter than others. Just like people, cats have different personalities. There are quiet cats, loud cats, chatty cats, and cats that like to keep to themselves.

Other Cat Noises

Cats also purr to express comfort. They have a long, drawn out yowl to signal they are breeding. They also squeal when they hurt themselves or before they cough up a hairball.

QUESTION: Does your cat like to meow at you? Leave your answer in the comments below!

Get the best cat stories in your mailbox!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sharing is caring!

Debbie Mason

Wednesday 27th of November 2019

I have many cats. Lol. I've had all colors of cats and the orange tabbies, especially the boys, are the most vocal especially when they want food.

Deborah Mason

Wednesday 27th of November 2019

I have many cats. Lol. I've also had all colors of cats and orange tabbies are by far the most vocal when they want something. Especially food,

Debra G Wall

Tuesday 8th of October 2019

My cat will block the door and meow and purr and wrap himself around my legs when I'm trying to leave for work. I tell him I miss him already as well, give him loves and tell him I'll be home soon. Love that little bugger


Sunday 18th of August 2019

My cat never meows. When she wants something she head butts me or walks over what I am doing. I have raise her since she was a few days old. She is a spoiled bottle fed cat. She likes to bring me items like clean wash clothes. She puts her toys by her food dish. She loves to sit in the recliner rocker

Matt Wicinski

Saturday 10th of August 2019

Katie Purry likes to say hello when I get home. She also meows from a distance and wont let me pet her should her box need cleaned. She likes to meow while bringing her toys down so I can throw them back upstairs. Its our game of fetch.