The Cat’s Meow..
28 November, 2011

If you’ve ever lived with a vocal cat, you’ve almost certainly asked yourself the inevitable question of why your cat is meowing. After all, who could resist wanting to know what your feline friend is thinking as she meows at your sleeping face early in the morning or weaves her way between your legs while crying herself hoarse?  Or maybe she or he just walks around meowing and you are left to figure out what your cat is saying.

Most of the typical cat sounds like hissing, spitting, growling, and that hair-raising high-pitched screaming thing cats do when they’re fighting and mating are fairly self-explanatory.  They could be angry, scared, or hoping to impress. But the plain-old meow can seem confusing to most of us.

Cats meow when they want something

Some experts say that the meow sound developed at least in part because we associate it with the needy cry of an infant. But it’s also undeniable that kittens and cats meow when they want something. And, more importantly, meowing gets results.  My cat, Sammy, meows in front of his food bowl until I end up feeding him. (Yes, he has control over me!)

Some say that cats meow at humans because they want something and, more importantly, because meowing gets results.  My cat, Sammy, meows in front of his food bowl until I end up feeding him. (Yes, he has control over me!)

I’m hungry!

Different types of meowing

Cats meow at varying frequencies, pitches, tones, volumes, and lengths. A meow begging you to open the back door can sound completely different from the excited, “I’m-about-to-be-fed” meow.  A meow when your cat just wakes up next to you is a different sound than when he or she is scared.

As anyone who’s ever heard two different cats meow, you know that no two feline voices are exactly the same. Beyond simply genetics and breeds, most of the variation in a cat’s voice comes from the cat’s personality. And, of course, there’s no predicting how the interaction of any given owner-cat 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.

Excessive meowing

If your cat’s meowing becomes excessive and repetitive, it’s time to schedule a visit to your veterinarian.  If your veterinarian doesn’t find any physical problem, you might want to look for an animal behaviorist to get his or her opinion.

But most cat owners don’t need to worry as the vast majority of vocal cats are not pathologically affected.  In fact, most of the cats are simply voicing their demands in a way they hope we owners can understand.  And sometimes they meow a lot and sometimes one meow does the trick.

I hope these tips help you understand the basics of the great sounding cat’s meow!

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