Why Do Cats Meow? How to Decipher Common Cat Sounds

Why Do Cats Meow? How to Decipher Common Cat Sounds
  • Cats typically meow to humans — in greeting, to get awareness, and of study course, when they want food stuff.
  • The length and volume of the meow, and your cat’s body language, can provide clues about their mood.
  • To enhance your bond, converse calmly, check out their pupils, and let them rub against you to share scent.

Cats talk with a broad vocabulary of meows, howls, and purrs — but meowing, in particular, begun when human beings commenced keeping cats as animals.

Before domestication, cats mostly communicated by smells, usually by rubbing them selves towards objects, suggests Amanda O’Brien, a cat actions professional at The Discerning Cat

“Given that people do not have a fantastic perception of odor as opposed to felines, cats needed to find a different way to converse with us once they began their domestic ventures,” O’Brien says.

Considering that cats are additional probable to meow to individuals than each other, a vocal feline buddy is possibly vying for your interest.

Right here are the most frequent meows your kitty works by using to connect and what each and every of them might indicate.

Various varieties of meows

“Individuals use various tones of voice to communicate diverse emotions, and cats have designed the exact response,” O’Brien suggests.

This is what your cat’s telling you, in accordance to O’Brien: 

  • A fast meow: This is commonly a greeting, specially if you’ve just entered the exact same spot.
  • A lengthy, drawn-out meow: This ordinarily means your cat would like a thing, like foods or notice.
  • Recurring meows: If your cat is specifically excitable or welcoming, they could possibly continue to keep “chatting” just to get your notice.
  • A superior-pitched meow: This could indicate your cat is hungry.

“But it is not just the volume or pitch of the sound that issues — it is also how extensive they keep it up,” says Melissa Brock, a veterinarian at Pango Pets.

For occasion, a brief, higher-pitched meow could be an invitation like, “Hey, occur pet me.” But if your cat only meows at the time or two times and stops when you ignore them, they are in all probability just bored and want awareness, Brock claims. 

What do other cat appears indicate?

Other sounds like growling, hissing, and purring can also have a range of meanings. 


Cats get started to purr as kittens, and moms in some cases purr to permit their infants know that mother is home and there is no danger in sight. 

Purring often signifies that your cat trusts you and feels material. Having said that, purring can often reveal fret or agitation. For instance, your kitty could possibly purr to self-soothe. 

“Be conscious of their physique language when they are purring. If they flatten their ears and elevate their fur, they are undoubtedly not content,” O’Brien says. 

If your cat shows their tooth, trousers, or purrs in a greater voice than typical, they most most likely truly feel distressed.


A growl can point out everything from panic to terror. A cat who growls with abruptly fluffed hair on their back again or tail or a substantially arched backbone is in all probability incredibly upset. 

You shouldn’t touch your cat though they are growling, as they may well bite you when frightened. If they respond this way when they see yet another cat, it truly is a fantastic thought to speedily individual the two in advance of a combat breaks out.


A cat’s hiss seems like air leaving a tire. Hissing or spitting ordinarily usually means they’re exceptionally distressed. You may well also see your cat’s tail twitching or swishing in agitation. 

Hissing is normally the ultimate warning indicator just before they lash out with their claws or enamel. 

If your cat constantly hisses or looks agitated frequently, you may well want to verify in with your vet. Long-term nervousness can cause strain-relevant wellbeing problems like taking in way too considerably or a weakened immune technique, the two of which can lead to being overweight and infections.

Deciphering your cat’s meows

We tend to assume that when our cat meows in one way, it suggests just one matter, and when they meows another way, it usually means something absolutely distinctive, Brock claims.

But cats are a lot more nuanced: 1 meow can express a whole array of meanings — and analysis suggests individuals are not able to decipher specific information from cat vocalizations all that perfectly. Your interpretation of their cries tends to rely on issues like your encounter with cats, your gender, and your empathy towards them.

For example, scientists uncovered that woman members and all those who’d spent a good deal of time close to cats have been extra very likely to correctly translate cat appears.

But with a little function, you can learn to comprehend your kitty. To enhance your cat interaction techniques, try these a few guidelines: 

1. Share smells

Permitting your cat rub their chin, mouth, or head along your hand or leg aids you mingle your scents, making them sense extra connected to you. This boosts their rely on by aiding them distinguish you from a potential intruder or threat.

2. Hold your tone of voice and physique language dependable

Cats are very sensitive and can decide on up on your emotions from subtle cues, like a louder voice, stomping, or sweeping gestures. 

“Attempt not to allow your irritation demonstrate when speaking with them — they’ll decide on up on it regardless of how difficult you consider not to display it.” Brock states. 

Your anxiety can enhance their worry, so consider treatment how you display your stress subsequent time you occur property just after a extended working day. 

3. Check their pupils

It turns out your cat’s eyes also offer a window to their soul. Although their pupils commonly develop more substantial at evening and shrink in wide daylight, pupil dimension can give you insight into what they’re experience and how to react. 

Vast, dilated pupils could indicate your cat is afraid or thrilled. Test their ears if you might be not sure which a person your kitty is experiencing. Upright, ahead-experiencing ears counsel your cat is psyched or curious — they are prepared to perform and may well want you to join. Nevertheless, flattened ears may imply they are upset.

Scaled-down pupils at evening (like surfboard-shaped pupils) may suggest your cat feels unsure and  may possibly require a minimal reassurance. If they are staring at a new toy or individual this way, heading with them to investigate may enable soothe their fears.

Insider’s takeaway

“Cats meow as a consequence of domestication due to the fact it can be a sound that humans can comprehend,” Brock states. 

Just like people have different strategies of displaying emotion, cats have diverse ways of sharing thoughts through seems. Your cat’s meow could mean they’re hungry, frightened, or just bored and want to perform or cuddle. 

Listening and responding to your cat’s vocalizations can increase your capability to decipher a particular meow, earning you a improved cat whisperer.