A Cat begins meowing at you for several reasons. hunger, boredom even pain. Being vocal is a form of communication. Sometimes it is cute however in the middle of the night it can become a problem. Knowing the why behind the meow can be useful.
From birth, kittens can make a noise or a “cry” similar to a meow. Kittens depend on their mother for their immediate survival. They cry or meow to express their needs. A kitten cries when they are hungry, thirsty, cold, scared, or lost. If you have ever heard a lost kitten, you know it one of the most effective ways to let mama cats know where they are hiding.
As kittens get older and don’t need their mother as much, their vocalization changes. As they become more independent, the need to cry for their mother cat dwindles.
Enter their human pet parents.
Dare I admit, as a new kitten owner, we take on the role of a mama cat and baby our furry ones. We become responsible to feed nurture and care for our new family members. We speak to them often they also often hear television or radio. When they meow we respond. They notice how we talk to each other. In the wild a feral cat vocalized less often just to warn others.
Common Reasons for being Vocal
How often do you chat with your cat? I personally talk to Pizza the Wonder Cat all the time. Studies have shown cats mainly meow to humans, not to each other. In addition to imprinting and purring, over time we have taught cats that vocalizing is a great way to communicate with us. (Who has trained who?)
What is my feline buddy trying to say?
Hunger or thirsty
I often get reminded that it is breakfast time ( or dinner time….or snack time ). I get a meow to remind me that my guy is hungry. There is a quick meow and a happy insistent chirps as I open the wet food can. ( occasionally he will even offer a little paw for help… I’d be in trouble if Pizza had opposable thumbs). Undoubtedly though, if he meows enough he will get fed, or get a treat. ( Yes, I have spoiled him)
To make it known they want out
We live in a “blended household” which means we spend a lot of time in our space. There is a beautiful dog at home BUT given our unique circumstances, time with the cat and dog needs to be supervised. Occasionally my cat will meow at the door to be let out of the room. Sometimes I think it is because he is talking to the dog.
Hello, I missed you
Pizza is very quick to show that he missed me. Often he can hear me come in the front door and begin calling to me. This has been a lifelong habit of his, one he had done throughout all the different places we have lived.
Fear or Pain
I don’t hear this type of meow from my guy very often. However, lately, if the dog does bark unexpectedly at him and scares him, he does let out a different meow than normal. It’s louder and with more “cattitude”. In our case, it is not usually accompanied by any other signs of fear (raised hackled or claws drawn) so I just make sure the dog and cat are monitored when together in a room. It is a warning to “watch out you are scaring me.”
Some breeds are just more vocal than others. Bengals, Siamese are known for their propensity to be more vocal.
Sometimes products like Feliway can be useful. It is plug-in diffuser that mimics the pheromones, promoting a feeling of calm.
Worrisome reasons the cat is meowing at you
Is your cat suddenly meowing more than usual? It is possible they are extra thirsty because of disease. Thyroid or kidney disease can result in excess thirst. If you are concerned it is best to get your kitty to a veterinarian to rule out an issue.
At times medications or supplements like CBD can oil cause dry mouth. Be aware and make sure your cat has enough water available.
It is quite common for older cats to begin more frequent meowing as they age. Cognitive function lessens and old cats become more vocal because of it. They may forget what they want and verbalize their confusion. Perhaps it is equivalent to walking into a room and forgetting why you went.
Sometimes if your kitty is starting to lose their hearing they may yowl more than normal.
Desire to mate
An unaltered male or female cat also meows or more likely yowl, when the urge to mate hits. I have heard the long loud, meow from feral cats outside. It is an undeniable sound, designed to attract a suitable mate. An altered cat generally doesn’t do this.
As you can see, cats are pretty smart. We have taught them the fine art of communicating to get their desires known. I think that is pretty clever. Cats definitely have a lot of things on their mind and are not shy about letting us know about it. It is fun and informative to pay attention to the ways your little buddy is trying to communicate with you.