Why do we cats meow?

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Meow! Meooow! Hisssss! Yowwwwl! Those are some of the little sounds you’ll hear us make over the course of our lifetime, whether if you live with us or you simply see us in passing. Don’t be alarmed every time you hear a cat meow, but did you know that if we hadn’t been domesticated, we would meow only during the first few months after birth, and then after reaching adulthood, we would communicate differently?

Yes, humans, our meows are generally for your own benefit … unless we are a month old or younger and need to exercise our throats to call out to our mothers.

Although we are able to use our throats to make up to 100 different sounds for getting your attention (dogs can only make ten, so just imagine what masters of verbal communication we are J), we usually communicate with one another using other means, especially marking our scents whenever we can. Hence, you’ll often see us rubbing up against the furniture, walls, toys and even up against you.  We like to rule our territory and have it well-marked, you know.

You’ll hear us purr, growl, spit and even catterwaul amongst ourselves when we’re in heat, but verbal communication among “wild” cats actually takes place only for a very short time. Only when we’re new-borns and depend on our mothers for eating and keeping warm do we manage to get her to pay attention to us by way of our short, high-pitched meows in order to eat our fill or we call out louder when we want her to cuddle us to keep us warm, but once we’re 4 or 6 weeks old, we stop communicating verbally with our mama.

So then you must be wondering why your cat meows after having reached adulthood. The answer is simple. We know that your sense of smell is not as good as ours, so we adapt to your needs. In other words, we meow for you, and the only thing we want is to get your attention and stop being lonely. If you’ve noticed, the meowing we usually use with you is quite similar to the meowing we use to call our mothers, and when we meow, it’s clear that we want something from you: to eat, drink, be made over, played with ….

So, now you know, we meow because we want you to be paying attention to us whenever we need you. Meow!


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