Sometimes a meow isn’t just a meow, not all cat sounds are the same! Let’s take a look at six different cat meow sounds and the meanings behind each one.
Recognize any of these six cat meowing sounds kittens make when talking to their humans? Even in a house with six cats, a distinctive wailing meow leaves no doubt that my orange tabby , Tinsel, is lurking nearby with some simulated prey in his mouth. “What you got for me?”
Within seconds, Tinsel appears around the corner with a pair of socks in his mouth or the occasional soft cat toy . Obsessed with socks, she loves to “hunt” and bring mates around the house. I consider Tinsel’s ersatz hunt to fuel his predatory instinct while living the life of a strictly indoor cat .
Why are there different cat meow sounds?
We cat owners, particularly those with talking cats, hear a lot of vocalizations, but is a cat’s meow just a one-size-fits-all kitty word? Or do cats have a vocabulary of cat meow sounds, with different pitches, pronunciations, and rhythms of the same basic sounds denoting different messages? Felines seem to speak to us with various cat meow sounds , says Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behavior consultant . And some breeds even have their own distinctive cat meow sounds, such as the Siamese, known for a voice that sounds like a baby’s cry.
“Generally speaking, the meows and the different ones you hear are for people,” says Marilyn. “They are so capable of so many different types of vocalization.”
If we respond to those cat meowing sounds, like feeding him when he makes a certain vocal demand, then that sound adapts to you, because it produces results, says Marilyn. She has two Bengals named Olivia and Jinniyah, and a Savannah named Sudan, each of whom has unique cat meow sounds to communicate with Marilyn.
However, I have identified six different cat meow sounds, as anecdotes from people have confirmed, many cats have highly individual noises that are not necessarily part of all cat vocabulary. It’s hard to spell a sound with a made-up onomatopoeia, but I’ll do my best.
1. The “I caught it” moan: “Owwww”
Inspired by Tinsel’s sock obsession, this is one of those cat meowing sounds that sounds like a low moan. Imagine a little weak “Owwwww, Mowwwww”, and you will get the idea. Many cats use this when stuffed mice, socks, and anything else that feels like prey are in their mouths. I assume they are celebrating their capture and showing it to their humans.
2. The mother cat laughs: Rrrruuh
You will hear these cat meowing sounds when mother cats communicate with their kittens or sometimes if your cat is just being friendly. I hear this sometimes when my cats jump onto my couch or bed, as a “Here I am!” Greeting. A cat’s laugh is an endearing bird-like sound, somewhere between a screech and a purr . It has a bit of vibrancy, perhaps spelling something like “Rrrrrrruh.”
“It’s almost like we’re rolling our Rs somehow, but it’s a soft roll of Rs,” says Marilyn. “That’s a sweet kind of affectionate vocalizing type.”
3. The growl: “Grrrow”
Growling may be mostly a dog thing, but cats have their own version of the low, menacing sound. A cat growling sound is not happy, unless it is part of the fighting game. Heed the warning. If your cats flinch, growl “Grrrrow” at each other during their meal, they feel stressed by another cat hunting for food. You can solve this problem by not putting each cat’s bowl too close to another, says Marilyn. Cats are by nature solitary hunters and eaters.
4. The ‘Feed me now, human’: “Meow! Meow!
Different cats have different ways of communicating their impatience and hunger. In my house, the louder and incessant meow of the cat sounds like: “Meow! Meoww! Meowwww! “It means,” Come out and feed me now, human! “You will also hear this warning if your cat is asking for something else, to be let out of a room, for example, and you are not listening. The longer you ignore it, the louder and more insistent these cat meow sounds are heard.
5. The Squeaky Kitty: “Meeew!”
Oh, that high-pitched squeak of a kitten meow. Keep in mind that if an adult cat lets out a loud meow, it is a squeal rather than a cute kitten, and the cat is upset about something.
6. The screech of a syllable: “Meh!” Or “Hey!”
This is a fast sound, “Meh!” Or “Hey!” Which seems to serve as a filler or conversational greeting. My cats often make these cat meow sounds when they approach me out of affection or just have a dialogue with me. St. Louis area resident Jaime Ingle has two Maine Coons , Pumpkin and Daisy.
She hears this “Mia, huh!” She makes a squeak from Daisy when she wakes up her human in the morning, as if she is saying “Good morning, Mom!” (As for Pumpkin, he employs a distinctive scratch “Me-yowww!”, While Ella rubs herself against Jaime’s legs, begging for treats.
Amanda Tatala, who lives in the Pittsburgh area, has recognized in her Tiger a short “Mrra!” Meow, which translates as a recognition based on “Ah, there you are!” Or “Yes, you noticed me!”
“I’ve found that he does it more often when I know he’s hungry”
Cat Meow Sounds: Conclusion
While all those different cat meow sounds can provide fun listening, take note if your cat’s meow changes, Marilyn cautions. It could indicate a disease, such as senility or a thyroid problem.
“If the cat starts to meow incessantly or a different type of meow, something that is unusual and does it several times, there may be something wrong, and the cat should be examined by a vet,” she says.
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