Why does your cat meow? Why do they meow so much?! Is it normal for cats to be meowing as much as they do? These are all questions that I get asked all the time. I tend to respond with quick answers such as, ‘it depends’ and ‘depends on when they are doing it’.
I hate to be the person who gets asked a question and goes into a half hour conversation about the topic. So short answers, or more questions are usually my response, unless I have already written a blog post about it. However, I feel like these answers usually lead people to more questions and they go searching the internet. So, I wanted to give all of you that have questions, an actual source where I can send you without boring you. (Hopefully).
There are a lot of different potential reasons why cat’s meow at humans. And there is some research you need to do about your cat in order to understand why they are doing it. Questions such as when they meow, how often, what their age is, and what your house environment is like.
The very first thing you need to know about a cat’s meow is that they are very rarely directed towards other cats. As kittens, they meow to communicate with their mothers, but it is normally something they grow out of. However, they will continue to meow to humans as a way to try and communicate. Their meow mimics the cry of an infant as that is known to get humans attention.
There are some instances with multiple cats where they are meowing at each other but the vast majority of the time, it’s the humans they really are wanting. I like to do the analogy of when two cats are looking at each other and one is meowing. In most instances, they are not meowing at the other cats, but it is similar to when two kids are looking at each other going ‘MOOOOOM!’
Another unique thing about cats is that each cat has their own unique meow. Their pitches vary from cat to cat but also based on the reasoning behind their meow. Very rarely do cat’s only meow for one purpose. Often, their type of meow will vary based on their reason for meowing. So let’s get into the real reason you are here. The different reasons why cat’s meow:
1. They want attention
A good portion of the time, cats will meow at their humans because they want their attention. There blog post over. Reason 1 and only reason. Kidding of course. But this is probably the main reason why your cat is meowing. If your cat is still relatively young, and is following you around meowing, but stops when you pet them, they are wanting attention.
I always love to relate animals to humans, because I feel like most people can understand it easier that way. (And right now, animals are my children so it’s like a 1:1 ratio right?! Sorry moms, don’t hate me!) But cats will meow at you when they want your attention similar to when kids follow you around going, ‘Mom, mom, mom, MOOOOOM, hey mom’. The kid sometimes wants something. Or they want to tell you a story or just let you know that they are there. Cats are the same way.
2. They Want to Play
If your cat is following you around, meowing, and doesn’t seem to stop when even after your pet and give them attention, they probably want more. More of what? They probably want to play. Cats, like humans, need mental stimulation. Oftentimes, this is done with toys.
Experts often recommend that people play with their cats every day, even if it’s only for ten minutes to keep them active, mentally stimulated, and prevent destruction.
If you are someone that plays with your cat on a regular basis, chances are they have gotten into their own schedule with playing. If you miss that schedule, they feel it is their duty to remind you that it is now playtime. They have too much energy right now that needs to be used up…and that toy is not going to fling itself. At least not in the very special way you do it.
Again, if we were to relate it to a child. Imagine if you have a kid who likes to throw the baseball around. You throw the ball every evening for a half hour. Guess what is going to start happening? They are going to start expecting it, looking forward to it and waiting for it. If you are late one day, they are going to be waiting for you with the ball in hand ready to play catch. Or very disappointed when the day is missed.
Cats, unlike children, are not able to show you they are disappointed you forgot. In fact, they don’t understand that you are busy or don’t want to play. The way that they see it is, hey human, you forgot. Here, I’ll remind you. It’s play time. You’re welcome!
3. Hungry or Thirsty
Like I’ve said before, cats meow as a way to communicate with humans. They have no way to tell us their food bowl is empty or that they are hungry. So they meow. This act is very similar to the way a baby will cry when they are hungry, or even thirsty.
When I notice my cats are walking around meowing at me a lot, this is always the first check that I do. We can just go to the fridge and eat when we are hungry or thirsty. Cats are not able to do that. They rely on us to feed them and keep them fed. So, if I notice my cat is meowing, I check their food or water bowl and make sure that it is full.
One thing that is important to call out though if you want to make sure you don’t overfeed your cat. Cats don’t see the world in the same way we do. They are not trying to be thin and fit like many humans in this world. Sometimes they eat when they are hungry, but other times they eat when they are bored. If your cat is meowing, has already been fed, and has water, then you need to let them be. They need to understand that meowing won’t get the excess food. You want to keep them healthy and an overweight cat is not healthy.
4. Stress or scared
Sometimes, when a cat is stressed out, they meow. They meow to let them know they are stressed out. If they see you moving boxes, that can stress them out and cause them to meow more than normal. There is not a lot of things you can do to help them with this besides acknowledging it, give them attention, and try your best to help them.
Stress is felt in both humans and cats and is not easily removed. Usually, it’s time, or the stressor passing that helps the cat feel better. So, if you’re going through a big life change and notice your cat meowing more than normal, just be patient. Perhaps give them a little extra love and remind them that as life changes, you don’t. You need to be their constant.
The other emotion that can cause meowing is fear. Now, this is not really a happy, high pitched meow. Now, this can be a hiss, or yowl or some kind of obvious indicator that your cat is not comfortable. This is one of the times that cats will do this to other animals. They are working to communicate with the other animal that they are scared and to leave them alone.
If you notice your cat hissing at your, a stranger, or an animal, it is scared. They are trying to let the animal know to back off and give them some space. I like to lump this into the meowing section because it is their form of communication. Sometimes cats will meow and hiss back to back as a way to tell their human they are scared. I plan on talking more about scared cats in the future, but if you notice hissing, it is usually fear based.
5. Loneliness or Boredom
If you only have one cat, are not home often, and do not have a lot of things to keep them stimulated, your cat may be trying to tell you they are bored! Or worse, lonely! While cats are known to be loners, no being does well in complete isolation. They need some interaction with other beings. Imagine if you were locked in a house all day, no TV, no phone, nothing to do and no one to talk to. You would start to feel a little crazy.
Cats are the same way. They can get bored and lonely. If you only have one cat, are gone for long periods of time, and notice they meow a lot when you are back, you have your answer. Your cat is lonely, or bored, or both. And they are trying to tell you they are bored.
If you have to be gone for extended periods of time, I usually recommend either a friend, having a lot of interactive toys for them to play with, or both. If we went back to the human example. How much better would it be to be stuck in a house if you had another person, or something to do, or both! That would make any human much happier and take the stress of you needing to be gone.
6. Your cat is in heat
If you have not spayed your female cat, and notice excessive low-pitched meowing, this could mean your cat has gone into heat. Excessive meowing is very common for cats in heat and it is their way of telling you, and the world, that they are ready to have kittens.
This is usually followed by agitated behavior, sticking their butts up, and less sleeping than normal. The good news about this is it is easy to identify. If your cat is meowing excessively, not been spayed, and exhibiting any of these behaviors, they are in heat.
I would equate this to a female’s times of the month. They are more emotional than normal and it passes with time. However, if you have spayed your cat, then is section can be completely ignored as your cat cannot be in heat once they are spayed.
Ugh, I hate this one. If I am being honest, this was the last section I wrote in the blog post. I hate to even think that my sweet girls could be trying to tell me they are sick. But sometimes this is the case. Cats who are older could be meowing to tell you something is wrong.
If you notice weight loss, excessive hunger, older aged cats who are meowing more than normal should be taken to the vet. If this excessive meowing is not typical behavior for your cat, then there could be a hypothyroidism issue.
The other option that could be happening is if you notice an older cat meowing more at night. This could be a sign of deafness or blindness. When the lights are off and they cannot hear you, they could become confused. They would then begin meowing as a way to signal you and to let you know they are lost. If this is something that has started happening, especially during the night time or when it is quiet, I would recommend a vet visit. Explain to your vet what could be happening and let them test their hearing and eyesight. This will help you better care for your cat if it is, in fact, a loss of the senses.
Regardless of what the illness is, your cat is trying to tell you something. Taking them to the vet when something is not normal will help put your mind at ease, and keep your pet healthy.
8. You Have a Vocal Cat – Wanting to Say Hello
Finally, if you are a talkative person, or if you have a talkative cat, then excessive meowing in normal. Cats watch their humans all day, if you are a talkative person, sometimes cats will mimic you as a way of joining the conversation. The other option is that you may just have a talkative cat on your hands.
Perfect examples are my two cats. My kitten was already a talkative kitten, but I am also a talkative person. I notice when I am talking on the phone, she tends to be more talkative. I like to pretend that she and I have conversations, but she will look at me and meow, I’ll respond back, and she will meow back. It is almost as if she is mimicking what she sees other humans do.
And then, my other cat tends to be less vocal. She will meow when she really wants something, but other than that she was always pretty quiet. Well when the kitten starts meowing a lot, I have noticed my other cat will start to meow too. She is following along in the kitten footsteps and almost saying like ‘yeah! Yeah! Me too! Me too!’
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Every single cat is unique. Some cats will only meow when they’re hungry. Some will have full conversations with you. But the most important thing is to understand your pet, their norms, and work on the reasoning behind it.
Hopefully one of these has helped answer your question as to why your cat is meowing or meowing excessively. If not, my inbox is always open. Shoot me a message or talk to your vet and see if they can help provide clarification. At the very least, this should be a starting point to understanding your cat a little better.