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Why do Cats only Meow to Humans?

September 04, 2018

Tabby cat sleeping on the sofa

Does your cat like to talk to you?
What do you say in response to them? 
Is their meow a happy chat or more like they are giving you a piece of their mind?
Did you know that it is only to humans that cat's strike up a conversation with?

tiny kitten asleep on mummy cat

As kittens, a cat will use a high pitched 'mew' to attract their mother's attention. As get older this stops as they begin to use their body language and sense of smell to communicate between other cats.

However domesticated cats realise that humans cannot communicate through subtle movements such as smell or body language so have adapted their communication skills through meowing - similar to kittens to their mothers - as we have effectively become their life-mothers and they depend on us for food and attention but we only register their needs when they talk to us.

Kitten meowing amongst some daisies

the softer and cuter the 'mew' the more likely you are to give your undivided attention to the cat and do as they wish. It is suggested that cats have adopted a manipulative manner to their lifestyle and know which pitch to use to get you to do their bidding. It, therefore, makes sense that those who own cats begin to understand and 'chat' with their cat once they recognise certain meows and pitches mean to set things. 

pawfect blue eyed cat

What Type of Meows Can I Expect from my Cat?

Although every cat will be different, there are certain meows you cannot mistake for anything but what they are meant to be:

Feed Me:

Do you feed your cat at set times in the day? Well if it its nearing 'food clock' you can expect a very impatient cat waiting at your feet meowing away! It's just your furbaby's way of letting you know that they are hungry and you're slacking on your duties if it is one minute past the feeding time. This meow will be constant and deep as if to say  "Feed me there's a hole in my bowl!".

Play Time:

These can be heard in the soft chirping of expectation "Hey, play with me!". They intend their mews to be delicate and inticing hoping to grab your undivided attention for a short while. But make sure to watch their body language as play fighting can turn to a real tussle within moments if they so choose.

Leave Me Be:

This is an unmistakable low pitch sound often in the form of a growl and in extreme cases a hiss. "Leave me Alone!" At this point, you probably have not noticed the change in body language - which a cat would have seen and smelt before the hissing began - and it's time to give your cat some space.  They will be making more of an effort to inform you that they need you to back away because you have misinterpreted their natural and more subtle language beforehand. 

Where are You?:

If like me, you have an elderly cat who has become a lot more talkative over the years, this could be due to confusion or disorientation over the years. It might be that they are struggling to hear or see you and are calling out for you to come and find them or it could be because they feel lost and need rescuing to an area that they know well.

two colour eyed cat

 I'm Not Feeling Right:

It could be that your cat is talking because they need to let you know that they are unwell, unhappy or hurt. This meow could be weak or sound painful. To determine if this is the case, check for signs of distress, cuts or wounds and see how they hold their posture. If anything looks wrong you should check them over with your vet.

Let me in/ Let me out:

This type of meow is constant and can be thought of as 'annoying' as this usually low pitched complaint will not stop until a door or cat flap is opened for them to peer outside and make their decision.

ginger tabby cat snoozing

Of course, cats meow for all sorts of reasons, the more you know and understand your cat and their habits the easier it becomes to understand what they are trying to tell you. It could be they are hungry, it could be because they are excited to see you and can't wait to tell you about their day.



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