Feline Mysteries: Why Do Cats Meow? What Are They Saying? 

Contrary to popular belief, cats are excellent communicators! While we can certainly intuit what they are trying to say with head bumps, slow eye blinks, and a flicking tail, perhaps the most useful tool is a cat’s voice. They meow at us, or in our general direction, but what exactly are they saying?

Again, we can guess at the meaning of certain sounds, but could there be a better explanation behind why cats meow?

Their Very Nature

Cats typically reserve their meowing for the people they know, however, some domesticated cats will certainly use their voice box (in addition to chirping, hissing and yowling, etc.) to get a point across to another feline in the house. Feral cat experts say it’s quite rare to hear a stray cat meow to another stray or feral cat

Connecting the Dots

With natural feline nature in mind, it seems likely that pet cats meow only to get what they want from the humans controlling the food, water, and access to either the outdoors or to warmth and snuggliness. 

Endless Vocalization

Some cat owners are highly accustomed to constant meowing, and accept it as part of the territory. Like purring, meowing is simply something that is expected. But excessive meowing can signal something more serious than a simple request for attention. 

Cat owners should try to connect excessive, repetitive vocalization with something else going on, such as problems in the litter box. Take an inventory of their environment, noting water and food levels. Make note of any changes in grooming or other habits. We are always happy to help you get to the bottom of your cat’s over-the-top meowing. 

Cats Meow for Good Reasons

Owners of cats can usually discern what their cat wants simply by listening closely to tone. Even without looking into their cat’s beautiful eyes, owners can tell whether their cat wants out, up, down, or a meal by simply listening. It’s really amazing!

What Not to Do

Even if your cat’s meows aren’t linked to a larger medical concern, and they have all their needs met, please never scold or punish your cat for meowing. Doing so may just reinforce the behavior, or it could really compromise the bond between you.

Likewise, giving in to what your cat thinks they want may not solve the issue of constant meowing. For example, many older cats meow for food even after they’ve finished a meal. If you give in, you reward the behavior and negatively influence their weight. 

Stay strong, reward quiet behavior with loads of praise, and as long as you’re convinced meowing isn’t a sign of a larger problem, ignore it. They’ll figure it out over time.

Cat Love & Communication

Dogs usually get the credit for being great communicators. While they are definitely expressive in lots of ways, they aren’t any better than cats at getting what they want. Indeed, our feline friends are unmatched at speaking their minds, we just have to know how to listen. 
If you have further concerns or questions about feline behavior, please let us know. Our veterinarians and staff members at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates are always here for you.