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Paws for Thought

We had a recent paws for thought: What is it cats want from us when they meow?

Meowing is our way of impersonating cats; It’s the sound we most commonly associate them with. Despite this, cats are not one-trick ponies and are actually very chatty animals, staggeringly capable of producing about 100 different vocalisations for different scenarios! (For comparison, a dog has about 10; cats are complicated, folks!)

In fact, cats have so many vocalisations that even their reasons for meowing differ depending on the scenario they may find itself in. Ok, we don’t expect them to pick up their grasp of the English language any time soon, but what on earth are they doing having so many meanings? We at Kitty Café explain what your cat may be trying to tell you... (Although, does anyone really know?)

What is a meow?

We think most of you likely know already (particularly considering you’ve made it onto a blog exclusively about cats!), but for those presumably having lived under a rock, we’ll tell you. A meow is a cat vocalisation expressing emotion, which can be assertive, friendly, bold, welcoming or even complaining.

Funnily enough, cats actually do not meow to communicate between themselves, so it is only us humans who actually hear it from them. This is most likely a result of domestication, as prior to being introduced to humans about 10,000 years ago, cats rarely ever encountered other members of their species, so they merely used smell. Since humans do not communicate with smell like cats do, they instead communicate through vocalised meows to us!

Moreover, meowing at humans is partially learned behaviour, as kittens all meow to get attention from their mothers for various needs. However, once they have grown and understand the differences between their own species and humans, they merely tailor their meows at us humans only! The amount a cat meows often depends on the breed, with Siamese being particularly notorious meowers, although it is through their affectionate nature!

“Meow you doing?”
Greeting People

The most obvious reason a cat tends to meow (at least indoors) is to greet somebody. Meowing in this sense indicates comfort with the human and even contentment and excitement to see them (similar to how a dog sometimes whines when they are excited to see their owner after a long day). It’s their way of saying “What took you so long?!”

“Purr-lease pay attention to me!”
Soliciting Attention

Cats enjoy social contact with people (mostly), and lots will be pretty vocal in their requests for attention from their humans, and very persistent in doing so! They may want to be played with, petted or even just talked to. In a lot of ways, this is similar to a baby crying for attention from its mother (I mean we don’t just call them fur babies for no reason, right?) This is particularly common with cats who are left alone for long periods of time each day due to their owners being busy at work and out of the house.

“Bowl Appetit!”
Demanding Food

Initially we were going to title this section “Asking for Food”, but let’s be honest, cats simply don’t do that, they implore us to feed them, whether it be their own standard food or food from the table!

Many cats are clever enough to learn to meow at people whenever anybody enters a kitchen area, just in case there's the merest possibility of an early or extra meal incoming for them! Others are clever enough to wake their owners for an early serving of breakfast! Some even are dastardly enough to try the old Puss-in-Boots trick and disarm their owners by staring straight into their souls, begging them to give them human food!

“Let Meow-t! Let Meow-t!”
Asking to be let outside

Cats also meow at us as a way of letting us know they want to go out into the great outdoors. Again, we say they ask, but they’re being pretty clear what they’re demanding from us by standing by a door! Cats learn very quickly where their potential escape spots are and they will quickly let you know by meowing! Similarly, once they have made it outside, if they want to come back in, they will simply meow at the door until we have let them inside!

So, remember, whenever your cat next tries to talk to you, please remember your meows from your meows to your meows! Sound simple enough? Adios Mew-chachos!

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