Any cat owner may know the call of a hungry cat. Cats make many sounds, but why do cats meow?

You’ll likely see your cat meow at you, but that’s not a sound their likely to make toward other cats.

If you’re wondering why cats meow, continue reading below.

Why Do Cats Meow?

Cats can meow for several reasons. Cats meowing to a human is what is interesting, however. Cats will rarely meow to each other, as they reserve that simply for human interaction. But why is this the case?

Meowing is an extension of a kitten’s mewing. A mew is a tiny sound that kittens make to get the attention of their mother. Usually by the time a kitten is four or five months old they will stop mewing all together.

The kitten’s mew is replaced with a full meow. This is the sound an adult cat makes specifically to communicate with humans. But why is it the case that cats meow?

Reasons Cats Meow

There are several reasons why a cat would meow. Usually meowing is to get attention or to tell you about how they are feeling. Here are some of the most common reasons:

They’re Sick

Adult cats lose the mew of kitten-hood and develop a full-fledged meow. Your cat is going to let you know when they’re having a problem. If your cat is feeling sick, you can expect to hear about it.

If you suspect your cat is meowing because they are sick, your first step should be toward your vet’s office. Your cat can be telling you their illness is making them hungry or thirsty. They can be in pain as well. If your cat suddenly develops some overactive vocal cords, your cat might need help.

Want Attention

While cats may not be as social as dogs are, they still get lonely. Your cat might come up to you and meow because they want you to pet them, or they may want to play. Your cat may feel like they are not receiving quality time with you. Be sure you’re giving them enough attention.

As a side note, if you only give your cat attention when they meow at you, you’re going to teach them that being loud gives them what they want. It’s a better idea to ignore your cat’s attention seeking calls and only give them quality time once they’ve stopped. Or better yet, give them your time before the calling starts.

Want Food

If your cat begins meowing around breakfast or dinner time, there’s a clear pattern. A cat may also meow when someone walks into the kitchen in hopes that they get some scraps. If this is your cat, they’re probably just hungry.

Again, just be careful when you give your cat what they want while they are meowing. This can reinforce that meowing gets what they want. You can also consider getting an automatic feeder to keep your cat from meowing directly at you.

Just Saying Hi

Did you just come home from work to a meowing cat? Take it as a compliment. Cats often will meow when their family comes home. Your cat might meow at you just because they bumped into you in the house.

The good news is that if your cat meows when they see you, it means they are fond of you!

They’re Stressed Out

If you’ve ever seen someone who just had a stressful day, they can certainly make groans and sighs as they ease onto the couch at the end of the night. Your cat is really no different.

If there is something stressing out your cat, they’re going to let you know about it. It could be the birth of a baby, moving into a new house, illness, or even someone leaving the house for an extended period. Any big event can be a source of stress for your cat.

The best thing to do is try to figure out what is causing your cat stress. If possible, try to remove or reduce that stress from your cat’s life. If you cannot remove the stress, try to set some extra time aside with them instead. Make sure your cat feels comforted and secure.

They’re in Heat

If your cat has not been spayed or neutered, they are going to let you know about their feelings. Female cats will meow incessantly to try and gain the attention of male cats. A male cat will also become very vocal when they know a female is nearby.

The only way to prevent this is to get your cat spayed or neutered.

They’re Growing Older

Elderly people can suffer mental degradation, and the same goes for cats. For cats who are aging, any kind of confusion can be met with meows. Night time is especially hard for cats who are prone to confusion.

You can help them by getting a nightlight to help them orient themselves.

What Other Sounds Do Cats Make?

Cats make a bunch of other sounds besides meowing. Here are some of the sounds they make:

  • Purring – Purring is probably one of the cuter sounds a cat can make. It signifies that your cat is in a good mood.
  • Chirring – Mother cats often use this sound to gain the attention of their kittens.
  • Growling or Hissing – These aggressive sounds are used to warn those around them of threat. It’s a warning to back off.
  • Moaning or Wailing – This is another aggressive sound that cats make when they feel threatened.

Something important to remember is that cats all have their own voices. Some cats are will make more noise than others. Keep an idea of what’s normal for your cat. If their amount of noise changes suddenly, be sure to act accordingly.