Meowing mysteries: What does your cat’s meow mean?

Cats use a combination of body language signals and scent patterns to communicate with each other and will rarely “talk” to each other with a meow. Because humans don’t respond to these patterns, scientists believe that they have developed vocal interaction specifically to “speak” to humans.

Have you ever wondered what your cat might be trying to tell you through their meow?

Why do cats meow?

Some breeds are big on “talking” to their owners. Oriental breeds such as Siamese cats are particularly prone to this and it doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with them. Some cats will meow to greet you when you return home, for example, and it’s common for cats to meow while standing by their feeding bowl to indicate that they’re hungry.

Two kittens on a sofa. One kitten is meowing. What does your cat's meow mean?

However, meowing can be a sign that your cat is trying to get your attention for a more specific reason, especially if he or she is meowing more than usual. Some possible culprits can include:

Illness: Your cat may be meowing because they are in pain or feel thirsty. Your vet can run tests to determine whether an overactive thyroid or kidney disease may be behind your cat’s vocalisms.

Pain: On a similar note, it can be a big cause for concern if your cat begins to become distressed during activities such as grooming, eating or using the litter tray.

Old age: As cats become elderly, they can become disorientated and confused. This can lead them to meow for no apparent reason, particularly during the night.

Stress: Stress can be a trigger for excessive meowing, especially if your cat has recently experienced a change to their normal routine (such as a new addition to the household, illness or moving to a new home).

Loneliness: If your cat is left home alone while the rest of the family is out, he or she may be pining for some company. Contrary to popular opinion, not all cats are content with their own company and will often “talk” to their owners to encourage play, petting and other interaction. This can be counteracted by making sure that you spend time with your pet every day, which can include playtime, grooming and general conversation.

Broodiness: If your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, a natural desire to breed may be the reason for their meowing. Females in heat will “yowl” to signal their availability, as will males who come across females who are in season. Getting your cat spayed or neutered will avoid this situation.

Cat insurance

It’s always wise to have a cat insurance policy in place in case of unexpected illness or injury. You can sort out your cat’s cover in a matter of minutes. Speak to our friendly UK call centre on 0808 164 8000 or buy online 24/7.

More pets = more fun!

Get your paws on a
5% multipet discount