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Q. Why do cats meow?

Answered By
DANA KOCH, VMD, MLAS

A. Cat parents often wish they could better understand what their favorite feline friends want or desire. A cat’s meow can be interpreted in many different ways and can indicate an array of feelings and needs. Here are some of the most common reasons for your cat’s vocalizations:

1. Greeting- Many cats will meow as a greeting when you enter your home or walk into a room. Cats will also meow at another cat or animal in the household to extend a hello and acknowledge the other animal’s presence.

2. Attention – An exuberant meow followed by leg rubbing or another attention seeking behavior may indicate your cat is looking for some quality time spent together. Some petting or rubbing behind the ears may be in order.

3. Hunger – A meowing cat is often a hungry cat. This is one of the most common reasons for a cat to vocalize to their owners. A cat will meow to get your attention at feeding times or even when they want extra food.

4. Sickness – A sick or hurt cat may begin to meow excessively, warranting a visit to the veterinarian. There are numerous reasons for a cat in distress to meow—whether it is related to an upset stomach, an injured leg or a urinary blockage. These meows should be carefully investigated.

5. Entering or leaving – Most cats will vocalize when they want to be let in or out of a room. You may notice when you are in the bathroom or behind the closed door of a room that your cat begins to meow, scratches at the door, and often reaches its paw under the door. This is a clear indication that the cat wants to be where you are.

6. Angry – An agitated cat may meow to warn their owner or another household pet that they are upset and would like to be left alone. This angry meow may increase in sound volume as the cat becomes more stressed or agitated. Often a cat will exhibit this type of meow at the veterinary office when they are unhappy with their examination or restraint.

Each feline is different and so are their vocalizations. Learn to understand the variety of meows your cat uses on a daily basis. This will help you develop a better relationship with your cat and help them live a more trusting and happier life.


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