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Why Do Cats Meow? The Many Meanings Behind the Meow

July 26, 2018 3 min read

dog with little child

Cats are supersmart creatures. They have many unique personality traitswhich very few people know about.

Did you know that cats do not meow to cats but only to people? So why do cats meow? 

Communication is very clear between cats, not so much between cats and humans though. The ‘catty’ language includes deciphering each other’s scents, facial expressions, touching and even body language like gestures.

The vocal cat communication is also another aspect of their communication. In this, they can shriek when they get scared, chatter when they spot any prey and have unique sounds for mating.

‘Meowing’ is not really a lingo which cats use.

As per different studies conducted on cats, the ‘meow’ seems to have originated after cats came into contact with humans!

The Origin of Meows

Basically, cats do meow when they are playing and cuddling their kittens. When the little cute kitten meows, she does it to grab her mom’s attention and care. The kittens also stop the meowing once they grow up and no longer require their mom’s assistance.

Another time when a cat meows, is when they are interacting with humans. They are meowing to gain your attention as humans cannot understand cat language.

Humans cannot understand any aspect of cat language which includes gestures, scents and body language.

So, let’s say a cat expresses something with gestures to a human, who doesn’t understand it and hence does not reply. She may even repeat the gesture with no effect and starts meowing as a result.

Now, with meows, humans pay attention.

Slowly, the meows develop into a language of their own. Slow meow, soft meow, fast meow, loud meow, screaming meow, you get the drift right. To continue interacting with humans, cats developed a unique language of their own!

Who says humans are the smartest breed on the earth?  With cats being so smart and clever, humans do have competition in the wings.

 

The Different Kinds of Meows

Volume, length, pitch and even tone are factors which make the meowing cats sound different from each other.  With time, Cat owners can learn the different kinds of meows pretty easily.

A short and high tone ‘meow’ might mean a cat wishing the human ‘hello’. In another instance, a series of short and high pitched ‘meows’ may mean that your cat is happy once you are back home.

While one kind of sweet and soft meow may be to ask for food and in another type of meow, she may be asking you to take her outside or even pet her and cuddle her!

Higher pitched, and loud meows can express anger, disagreement and even that she wants something which is not being given to her.

 

Cat Owners Understand Cats Language Better

People who have cats at home are good at understanding the different kinds of meows.  People who do not own cats are not so clear and sound at identifying the meanings of the different meows.

In a research done on the cat meowing to humans, many questions were asked to the respondents. They were asked an equal mix of general questions and specific ones but were not shown any actual cats. So, the respondents did not benefit from seeing the cats live to understand their body language and gestures.

People with no experience with cats performed very poorly as they did not understand any cat meows. People who owned cats estimated the correct meaning of meow 40% of the time.

Isn’t it great to know so much your kitty has gone through just to be able to love you and be more communicative with you? Necessity and affection for humans both were equal contributors to the development of this special meow language.

Let’s round up this lovely blog by summarizing the ‘meow’ language for new and old cat owners.

Listening carefully to different meows can make your life easier.

Short and soft meow can mean ‘hello’ or a greeting to its human owner. Short and Multiple meows may mean that she is excited to see you after so long and want to be with you.

A little louder meow can mean a demand for food as she may be hungry. A prolonged meow may indicate a request for you to do something for her. A high pitched, loud meow can be to show her disagreement or complaining about something.

Ok, so all the cat lovers should be rejoicing at how much their cats love them, as they ended up developing a new language just to communicate with their human friends!!

 

 



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