Cats meow for a variety of reasons, but the most common is to let us know they want
something. Cats meow to let us in or out of the house, for instance, or to ask for something. If
your cat lives inside but wants to go outside, you may notice that she meows often for days or
even weeks, indicating that she is trying to get access to something. But what exactly does it
Usage of meowing as a form of communication with humans
It’s not clear exactly how cats communicate with us. They don’t meow in series, and it’s unlikely
that they will enter into a long dialog. The meowing may be accompanied by other behaviors,
such as fleeing, hiding, or begging for attention. But the meow does have nuances that can tell
us more about our feline companions than what we’ve been taught.
The study tested the ability of human participants to recognize the context of a cat’s meow.
Participants were asked to listen to single meows recorded in familiar environments. Cat meows
were recorded during a feeding, brushing, or isolation situation. Participants were also asked to
fill out an online questionnaire measuring their level of empathy towards animals, cat knowledge,
and kinesthetic perception.
For this study, the participants were asked to rate each meow in terms of its pleasingness,
appeal, and urgency. The results showed that cats respond differently to the same meow in
different contexts, and this difference is likely due to the way humans perceive meows. Besides
kitty meows in familiar contexts, the study also tested the ability of humans to recognize different
cat meows in new contexts.
Significance of meowing to cats
The meowing sounds produced by cats are made by vibration of their vocal cords located in the
larynx, also known as the voice box. While all mammals have anatomical parts that are essential
for speech, humans have a larger brain and more developed neural pathways than do cats.
Because they are unable to process language, cats have adapted a variety of vocalizations to
communicate their needs. A short, high-pitched meow means hello, while more meows in
a ‘sentence’ indicates excitement.
In addition to indicating various needs, cats also use meows to express their emotions. An
inordinately loud or prolonged meow can be a sign of discomfort or fear. A mewling cat may also
convey boredom or disdain. Cats with nonverbal communication skills may meow more often to
communicate a medical condition. Senior cats with cognitive impairment may also meow more
The meow is the most common sound heard by cats. Adult cats use meowing almost exclusively
to communicate with humans. Meowing is the kitten’s first vocalization, and while juvenile
vocalization may eventually fade away in wild cats, the meow continues to be a common part of
cat communication into adulthood. A meow is typically a request for attention, which can occur
anytime the cat needs food or access to a room. Meowing is also a cat’s welcome home
Significance of meowing to humans
What does a cat want when it meows? Meowing is the cat’s way of communicating with us, and
it can also be an indication of physical discomfort. Generally, cats meow in order to get
something from us, and the meowing sound can be as similar as a human baby crying, making
us reflexively look for the animal. It is very intelligent and may be trying to communicate with us
Cats make meows when they open their mouths, and the sounds can be friendly or demanding.
While all mammals have the anatomical parts necessary for speech, only humans have the brain
size and highly developed neural pathways to process language. Despite this, cats have evolved
a meow that is both familiar and unique. A study conducted by linguist Susanne Schotz and two
colleagues reveals that cats use meowing as a means of communication.
The meows of male and female cats are often associated with certain situations, including
isolation and hunger. Compared to male participants, female participants tended to be better at
identifying context. A meow emitted during brushing or waiting for food was perceived by
participants as more negative than a meow from a cat in a cage. Furthermore, female
participants were more likely to associate cat meows with their own emotions, and feline meows
were more often perceived as positive by their human companions.