Why do cats meow? The reasons change as they grow from kittens into cats. Kittens meow to their mothers when they’re hungry, cold, or scared. But once cats get older, they use other vocalizations — such as yowling, hissing, and growling — to communicate with each other. Meowing is reserved for their communications with people. Of course, the amount of meowing varies by breed and even cat. Oriental breeds, especially Siamese cats, are known as great “talkers,” so anyone who doesn’t like meowing probably should steer clear of these breeds. And some cats just seem to like to hear their own voices, while others seem to want to carry on a conversation with their owners. If your cat is talking a little more than you’d like, try to figure out the cause first. Once you know the reason, you can then work to get your cat to meow less. Why Does My Cat Meow So Much? Cats meow for many reasons, from the serious to the attention-seeking. They include: Illness. The first step is a thorough checkup by your veterinarian. Numerous diseases can cause a cat to feel hunger, thirst, or pain, all of which can lead to excessive meowing. Elderly cats also can develop an overactive thyroid or kidney disease, both of which can result in excessive vocalizations. Attention seeking. Despite what some people think, cats don’t like being alone a lot. Cats often meow to initiate play, petting, or to get you to talk to them. If you want to cut down on attention-seeking meows, stop responding when it happens. Only give her attention when she’s quiet. If she starts to meow again, look or walk away. But don’t ignore your pet. Spend quality time each day with her, playing, grooming, and talking to her. A tired pet is a quieter pet. Wants food. Some cats meow every time someone walks in the kitchen, hoping to get a bite. And many cats become very vocal when it gets close to their feeding times. If this is your problem, don’t feed your cat when she cries. Wait until she quiets to put down food, and don’t give her treats when she meows. If this doesn’t work, get an automatic feeder that opens at set times. Now kitty will meow at the feeder and not you. Greeting you. Many cats meow when their people come home, or even when they just meet them in the house. This is a hard habit to break, but look at it as kitty saying she’s happy to see you. She’s lonely. If your pet spends too many hours a day alone, think about getting a pet sitter to drop in during the day, or find other ways to enrich your pet’s life. Put a bird feeder outside a window she can watch. Leave foraging toys out with food inside. Get her a kitty condo and rotate different toys that you leave out for play. A stressed cat. Cats that are experiencing stress often become more vocal. A new pet or baby, a move or changes to the home, an illness or the loss of a loved one can turn your cat into a talker. Try to discover what is stressing your pet and help her adjust to the change. If that’s not possible, give your cat extra attention and quiet time to help soothe her. Aging cats. Cats, just like people, can suffer from a form of mental confusion, or cognitive dysfunction, as they age. They become disoriented and often cry plaintively for no apparent reason, especially at night. A nightlight sometimes can help if your cat becomes disoriented at night, and veterinarians often can prescribe medications that help these symptoms. Cats that want to breed. If your cat isn’t spayed or neutered, then you’re going to hear a lot more noise. Females yowl when in heat, and males yowl when they smell a female in heat. Both can be maddening to live with. Getting your pet spayed or neutered will prevent this.
The cat’s meow is her way of communicating with people. Cats meow for many reasons—to say hello, to ask for things, and to tell us when something’s wrong. Meowing is an interesting vocalization in that adult cats don’t actually meow at each other, just at people. Kittens meow to let their mother know they’re cold or hungry, but once they get a bit older, cats no longer meow to other cats. But they continue to meow to people throughout their lives, probably because meowing gets people to do what they want. Cats also yowl—a sound similar to the meow but more drawn out and melodic. Unlike meowing, adult cats do yowl at one another, specifically during breeding season.
But cats can meow at varying frequencies, pitches, tones, volumes, and lengths. A meow imploring you to open the back door, for example, can sound completely different from the excited, “I’m about to be fed” meow, which is totally different from the meow that happens right before you scratch her right behind her ear at bedtime.
Why do cats meow? The reasons change as they grow from kittens into cats. Kittens meow to their mothers when they’re hungry, cold, or scared. But once cats get older, they use other vocalizations — such as yowling, hissing, and growling — to communicate with each other. Meowing is reserved for their communications with people.
When does meowing become excessive? That’s a tough call to make, as it’s really a personal issue. All cats are going to meow to some extent—this is normal communication behavior. But some cats meow more than their pet parents would like. Bear in mind that some breeds of cats, notably the Siamese, are prone to excessive meowing and yowling.
Interestingly, some experts say that the sound “meow,” as we know it, developed at least in part because we humans associate it with the needy cry of an infant. But it’s also undeniable that kittens meow when they want something. So it’s no stretch to assume cats didn’t learn to associate meows with requests.
3) I’m ticked off – “Angry, agitated cats will often erupt into a screaming match if they feel threatened enough to attack,” says Moore. She describes this mad meow sound as more of a yowl. 2) I don’t want to be alone – According to The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Indoor Pet Initiative, when some cats are left alone for lengthy periods of time, they may become anxious and, among other things, meow excessively. 1) I’m getting older – “Increased vocalization is fairly common in senior cats,” says Dr. Arnold Plotnick of Manhattan Cats and veterinary expert to catchannel.com. As cats age, Dr. Plotnick explains, they may display a decrease in cognitive function, demonstrated in a variety of ways, including loud meowing.
10) I’m hurt – If your cat suddenly begins to meow excessively, take him to be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately. Your cat’s meows may indicate that there is something medically wrong, especially if the behavior isn’t typical. “Numerous diseases can cause a cat to feel hunger, thirst, or pain, all of which can lead to excessive meowing,” advises Web MD.
Of course, as any cat parent knows, sometimes cats meow for some unknown reason. Perhaps because the sky is blue or he wants you to change the channel on the television. Since cats can make a variety of vocalizations, your cat will likely use distinctive sounds in different occasions with different meanings. Paying attention to the circumstances in which your cat meows or vocalizes, and the sounds he makes can be fun and help you understand your resident feline a little better.
And some cats just seem to like to hear their own voices, while others seem to want to carry on a conversation with their owners. If your cat is talking a little more than you’d like, try to figure out the cause first. Once you know the reason, you can then work to get your cat to meow less.
As anyone who’s ever heard two different cats meow knows, no two feline voices are ever exactly the same. But beyond the vagaries of voice box machinery, most of the variation comes from the cat’s own personality. And there’s no predicting how the interaction of any given human-cat personality pairing will affect meowing. After all, when some cats learn that meowing brings them satisfaction, the very act of meowing can become satisfactory in its own right.
8) I want food – The “I’m hungry” meow is likely one all cat parents know well. “Lots of cats know just how to tell their families that it’s time for dinner,” says pet blogger, Jane Harrell. “My cat Mojo would run around after me, meowing the whole time if she thought dinner was going to be late.”