Truth or Myth: Cats Only Meow to Humans
If you’ve spent any time around cats, you’ll be familiar with all the adorable sounds they make.
There is purring, usually a sign of contentment as your kitty is curled up on your lap. There is chirping and trilling, which are used by a mother cat to tell her kittens to follow her (or perhaps when your kitty wants you to follow him to his empty food bowl). There is hissing, which hopefully you don’t hear too much of!
But without a doubt, the most common and recognizable cat vocalization is the meow. Have you ever stopped to think about when or why your cat meows?
Do Cats Only Meow to Humans?
Yes! Cats have reserved the meow just for us. Cats typically do not meow to other cats. But why do cats meow at humans? Normally, a kitten would meow at his mother when he needs something from her.
As the kitten grows up and becomes more independent, the need to meow generally fades away. But as cats tend to think of us as their slightly-less-furry parents, cats meowing for attention continues into adulthood for those raised around humans.
So why do cats meow at people? Cats meow to humans to communicate with us and let us know they need something, whether it’s to be fed, to be let into another room, or to be petted!
What Does It Mean When Cats Meow at You?
Learning how to understand cats meowing is easy, but may require looking at context clues. Is your cat trying to lead you somewhere? Is it close to dinnertime? Has your cat not been played with in a while? Just like a baby crying, it’s up to you to decode the meaning of the sound.
However, you can safely assume that your cat is meowing for attention from you of some kind. He might just want a couple of pets, or he might want his dinner. Some cats will develop different-sounding meows for different situations. If you listen closely, you might hear one kind of meow for food and a different meow to ask to go outside!
Why Do Cats Meow Back at You?
If you’re lucky enough, you may even have a cat that knows how to hold a conversation with you. You might say something to him, and he meows back. And the back and forth continues from there. Cats are very perceptive of human behavior and body language, and they notice things we don’t even think about.
Although it’s debatable whether or not our cats think of us as big, clumsy, hairless cats ourselves, they definitely notice that humans spend a lot of time “meowing” at each other.
They know it’s how we communicate, so they’re just trying to fit in!
Do Cats Meow to Each Other?
Typically, you won’t ever hear cats meowing to other cats. You will occasionally hear other types of vocalizations between felines, but cats in harmonious multi-cat households are typically pretty quiet around each other.
Cats have learned that humans like to communicate verbally, but they tend to use body language to communicate with their own species. You may not hear anything when two friendly cats encounter one another, but if you understand feline body language and pay attention to their tail, ears, and the rest of their body, you’ll see plenty!