While cats use a range of vocalisations such as yowling, hissing and growling to communicate with each other, meowing isn’t one of them. This is a behaviour they’ve adopted just for humans. But what are they trying to tell us?
Cats communicate by a combination of scent signals, body postures and vocalisations. While cat scenting operates on a level way beyond the capability of the human nose, and we often miss the subtle notes of feline body language, meows get our attention – which is exactly as our cats want it.
Although kittens meow to their mothers, adult cats don’t meow to other cats – probably because their mothers stopped responding once they were weaned. Grown up felines reserve this vocalisation purely to communicate with humans.
So what are they saying?
Cats often give a verbal greeting to their human when they come home, or even when they just meet them in the house.
I require some attention
Despite what some people think, cats don’t like being alone too much. Cats often meow to initiate play, petting, or to get you to talk to them. Spend quality time each day with your feline friend, playing, grooming, and talking to her.
I want food and I want it now
Some cats meow every time a person walks in the kitchen, hoping to get a bite to eat. And many cats become very vocal when it gets close to their feeding times.
I’m finding things stressful
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 a quiet cat into a talker. Try to discover what is stressing your pet and help her adjust to the change by giving her extra attention and quiet time to soothe her.
I’m feeling frisky
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. Getting your pet neutered will prevent this.
I’m getting on a bit
Cats, just like people, can suffer from deteriorating eyesight, mental confusion, or cognitive dysfunction, as they age. They may become disoriented and cry plaintively for no apparent reason, especially at night. Your vet can prescribe medications that help with these symptoms. Hearing loss can also cause a cat to vocalise louder than usual because she can’t determine her volume.
I’m not feeling well
There are numerous diseases that can cause a cat to feel hunger, thirst or pain, including overactive thyroid or kidney disease, which can result in excessive meowing. If your cat exhibits this behaviour, take them to the vet for a thorough check-up.
Sources: pets.webmd.com, independent.co.uk, humanesociety.org, thespr
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