5 Reasons Why Cats Meow

Whether you enjoy a soothing meow every now and then or you’re growing impatient with all your cat’s attempts to make conversation, the reasons why cats meow are just as fascinating as the kittens themselves. Find out more here.
ginger cat eating from bowl
ginger cat eating from bowl
ginger cat eating from bowl

As a proud cat owner, you are by now probably used to the daily soundtrack of meows and purrs your cat shares with you. But did you know that the way cats communicate with other cats is mainly via scent, and cat meowing is a language reserved for humans only? That’s to say, cats don’t meow at each other, only at humans, and meowing is a learned behaviour. Different meows tend to mean different things too and a subtle difference in one meow to another can indicate your cat is talking to you for a very different reason!

Why would cats, who are better known for their “can’t be bothered” attitude, go to all the trouble to communicate with us? They must have something important to say. So if your cat won’t stop meowing and you need help deciphering what this means, here are the top reasons why cats meow.

Why do cats meow?

1. To greet you

If you’re used to a short meowing burst just as you close the door after returning home, congratulations – your cat actually noticed you were missing. These quick meows are your cat’s way of saying “hi” and “where have you been all this time”. A bit of affectionate petting and a few warm words are expected in return before your feline friend goes back to the usual preoccupations. Ah, the joys of being a cat owner!

2. To get your attention

One reason why cats meow is to they can get your attention for play, petting or some nice treats. So if your cat keeps brushing up against you while belting out her signature meows, chances are you’re needed for some good old spoiling time. So if you’re wondering why does my cat keep meowing, that’s your cue to get the bag of treats out. If you need some inspiration, here are some cool cat games ideas to try. Have fun!

3. To get food

If your cat won’t stop meowing at certain times, it’s always a good idea to check the food bowl. If it’s empty, you know why your cat is meowing! However, don’t fill up the bowl straight away – a good trick is to wait until your cat stops meowing before getting the food out. Otherwise your cat will learn that they can meow and get fed, so they’ll do it more.

4. To tell you they’re unwell

Unfortunately, the reason why cats meow is not always easy to address, especially if the pitch and the frequency of your cat’s vocalisations are unusual. If your cat is meowing at night, they might be trying to tell you there is something wrong. In fact, many illnesses from kidney disease to urinary tract problems or arthritis can have your kitty meowing for help. If you notice anything unusual about the sounds your cat is making, it’s always better to visit the local vet to rule out a possible illness. However, be aware that it can be very difficult to read a cat’s body language and they often hide signs of pain, so just because they are not meowing doesn’t mean they are necessarily comfortable!

If your cat is not a youngster anymore, watch out for a common culprit showing up in older cats – Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. Some of the symptoms include confusion and meowing at night, so make sure you discuss this possibility too with your vet.

5. To indicate stress

If you notice extra cat meowing on top of the usual chat you’re expecting from your feline friend, think about any possible disturbances or changes in your cat’s environment. A new house, a new pet or a new baby can set off alarm bells in the mind of your furry companion. So be mindful of any changes and try to put your cat at ease by offering them more attention and some nice quiet time.

Cat breeds that meow the most

All cats meow at their owners, but there are certain cat breeds that are more predisposed to ‘vocalisation’ and like to constantly chit-chat. Here are the cat breeds known to meow the most:

Ginger cat being held

Siamese

An elegant and graceful cat that also likes to socialise - if you already own a Siamese cat you probably know by now that peace and quiet is just not how these cute kittens roll. These cats can get very loud but they are extremely fun to be around too and will immediately become part of the family.

Oriental Shorthair

Similar to the Siamese, the Oriental Shorthair cats like to make their presence known. This is a cat that likes to meow, play games and be around people.

Maine Coon

Maine Coon cats are known for the delightful quiet chirping sound they make. They are very playful and friendly and meow up a storm to let you know how much they enjoy your company.

Bengal Cats

Affective and very energetic, Bengal cats are known to be a very vocal breed as well. Their wide vocabulary will soon have you guessing what exactly is your kitten trying to communicate.

What to do if your cat won’t stop meowing

Here are a few do’s and don’ts for cats that keep meowing when nothing seems to make them want to stop.

cat climbing

Don’t ignore your cat

The main reason why cats meow is because they are trying to communicate with you. It’s true that they might not always have important things to say, but just in case this is their SOS signal, look out for other signs accompanying the meows. Your cat might be in distress or in pain and really needing your attention, so make sure you don’t write meowing off as idle chit-chat before ruling out any possible health or wellbeing reasons.

Don’t punish your cat

You’ve had a long day at work or you’re busy preparing a meal and the last thing you need is the cat incessantly meowing at you. But while meowing can be annoying, the best thing to do is to remain calm and avoid shouting or punishing your cat. Not only is this unlike to stop the meowing, it can also make your cat fearful of trying to tell you about problems in the future. Instead, go through the above list of cat meowing reasons and try to determine what exactly your cat is trying to say.

Break the habit

If meowing up a storm is the trick card your cat keeps playing whenever they are hungry or looking for some play time, the best thing to do is to discourage this behaviour. Avoid giving your cat any rewards for purely meowing at you. Just wait until the cat has finished saying their piece before getting out the food or their favourite toy.

Visit the vet

If your cat has always been noisy then there is probably nothing to worry about. However, if cat meowing becomes excessive and unusual in pitch, this might be a sign of an underlying illness. Make sure you visit your local vet and discuss any unusual symptoms or behaviours.

Find out more about your cat’s behaviour by reading our cat behaviour guides and discover how one of the most common cat problems can be solved by using cat calming tricks.