Everyone who has ever owned a cat has been in this situation before. You're spending some time with your pet, and your feline friend starts meowing. You look at them, and they're very clearly trying to communicate something with you. However, you don't understand. Nobody speaks "cat," so what do cat meows mean?
While there's no "human-to-cat" translation guide, when your cat meows at you, they are trying to communicate with you. Cats are some of the best companions so it's only fair to try and understand them Read on to see how you can deduce what your cat is trying to tell you!
What Do Cat Meows Mean? More Than You Might Imagine!
You might think that a cat's meows seem random at times. Or perhaps you might notice that your cat only meows at you when it wants something. Every cat is different in the frequency and times when they meow.
However, what all cats have in common is that the meow sound they make has genuine meaning - it'll just take some deducing to figure out what it is.
First, you should know that those meows you hear are almost exclusively for humans. Cats seldom meow at other cats or other animals. Cats meow at humans as a way to get their attention, communicate with them, and express something. Sometimes, they even use cat body language.
Cats will meow when they're trying to tell you they're hungry. They'll meow for water. Cats will even meow to say "welcome home." Ultimately, when your feline friend meows at you, think of it as them trying to tell you something. Pay attention and take the non-verbal cues to ascertain what they want. For example, if they're walking around the food cans meowing, there's a good chance they're hungry!
How Do Cats Learn To Meow at Humans?
Given that cats don't frequently meow at other cats or animals, the question is: why do cats meow at humans?
Meows originate as kitten sounds. When a kitten needs to grab the attention of its mama, it meows. Very young kittens don't have the sight or strength to find their mama, so the easiest way to call her attention is to meow. Of course, the mama cats know and understand their offspring's meows and can come right over to assist.
Under normal circumstances, cats grow up in the wild, and there's no reason to keep meowing. They can meow at a dog, but it's not like the dog will get them food or water! So wild cats lose this instinct to meow altogether.
Domesticated cats, however, keep meowing because they learn that - like mama cat - their human companions respond well to sound. We hear the meow, give them attention, and start looking for things they might need, like food, water, or toys. We're effectively doing what mama cat would have done when they were kittens.
As such, domesticated cats retain the ability to meow because it's a useful skill to have!
What Do Cat Meows Mean: When To Worry
Your cat meowing is not usually a sign of anything wrong. Frequent, fast meowing is often your pet's way of getting your attention (think lots of meowing near the food bowl when they're hungry). Slower, quieter meows can sometimes suggest that they're lonely, want attention, or maybe feel hungry. Cats can also meow when they feel anxious, skittish, can't see well, or would like their humans to make sure they're alright.
Cat meowing can also be a sign of illness or injury. If you have a cat that will not stop meowing no matter what you do, there's a chance that they might be trying to tell you that they are in pain or are feeling sick. In this case, check your pet over to ensure that they are not exhibiting any of the symptoms of common cat diseases. If your pet is in a lot of pain, you may also hear cat howling, which is different than meowing. Howling is much more frantic and sounds "panicked" or "painful."
When in doubt, trust your instinct. If you feel like something might be wrong with your pet, take your feline friend to the vet. It's better to be safe and catch problems early than have to deal with much more complex issues later. If you do catch problems with your cat, be sure to consult your vet for treatment options. You can also look into holistic methods to treat your feline companion.
Pay Attention To Your Cat's Meows
Your cat has learned to meow to get your attention. Sometimes that's just saying hi, while other times, it's to alert you of illness or pain. No matter what the case is, just like a baby that cries, you should try and deduce what the reason might be when you hear your cat meow. Search for non-verbal cues and use logical reasoning to figure out what your furry feline friend might want.
Also, when you do figure out what your pet wants, keep a mental note of that meowing sound. There's a good chance that your pet will return to it when they want the same thing in the future. After all, if it worked once, why not try it again and see if it gets the same result?
The next time you hear your cat meow, pay attention. Your cat wants to tell you something! After all, part of caring for your cat is ensuring that they're well, free from any illnesses, and happy.