Not all cat meows are the same, and not all cats meow the same! Anyway, each meow has many different sounds and there are many different meanings behind each meow. Why are there so many different meows? Well, it turns out that “meow” is an easy catch-all for the many vocalizations of felines. Cats have an entire vocabulary of meows, with varying pitches, pronunciations and rhythms. What’s more, different breeds have unique meows and individual kitties have their own meows, which is equivalent to humans with different accents, depending upon where they come from.
Meows are used to speak to people. Cats communicate with each other without meows. Over time, they learn that if they want food or attention, the meow is the best way to get what they want. If a certain meow gets them food, then that particular vocalization is used every time Kitty wants to eat. With this in mind, you can see how an entire cat language develops through these various meows. Often, cats have highly individual noises that aren’t necessarily part of other cats’ vocabularies. Let’s examine some of the meows that are common to most.
“Owwww,” or “I caught it!” Sounding a bit like a moan, it is used when their prey has been caught and they are showing it to you. The prey can be a toy, a sock, or a mouse in the house.
“Rrrruh,” or the Happy Chirp. When Kitty greets you at the door or jumps on the sofa to see you, she does a bird-like chortle, indicating she is pleased to see you. This is somewhere in between a chirp and a purr, with a bit of vibrato thrown in. This is the sweet, affectionate vocalization.
“Grrrow,” or the Growl. Not a happy sound, this one is low-pitched and is meant to be menacing. As cats were originally solitary hunters, this sound is meant to scare you and protect her. Best you take heed of this as it can mean Kitty feels threatened and is ready to pounce.
“Meow! Meowww!,” the Feed Me Sound. This is the way cats communicate impatience and hunger. If you hear increasingly louder and constant meows, she wants you to feed her or pay attention to her… right now! The word “caterwauling” comes to mind, even though that is the sound that developed from the female cat’s loud mating sounds.
“Meeew!,” or the Kitten Squeak. This one is high-pitched and squeaky and the cutest thing you’ve ever heard! It’s a shame little kittens have to outgrow it!
“Meh!” or “Eh!,” The Chirp. It’s quick and staccato, and it seems to be conversational. When Kitty just wants affection or just a bit of conversation with you, this seems to be her best way to encourage that.
The meanings of the various meows are entertaining and informative as you learn to decipher them. However, please be aware of the following: If your cat’s meows change considerably, this could denote illness. If the unusual meowing persists, it could be a sign of senility or thyroid problems. If this is the case, you should get her examined promptly by your veterinarian.
So, as it turns out, learning your cat’s various meows is not only the key to better communication with your favorite fur friend, but it is also a good way to understand her moods as well as a window into her health.
For more information, please go to: