what does that meow mean?

Does your cat talk to you? If you’ve spent quality time with your feline, the answer is probably Yes. Cats have a wealth of sounds, body languages, and behaviors to let you know what they’re thinking and feeling.

Of course, each cat puts their own spin on how and why they communicate. A chatty cat isn’t necessarily telling you something is wrong, and a quiet cat may be keeping their problems to themselves. But if your cat decides to share, we have a quick guide on what their meows might be saying. (Key word: Might. If anybody out there knows exactly what cats are trying to communicate, all we can say is… Wow.)

“Help me out?”

Cats are smart. If they associate you with care giving, they may seek you out with meows if they need help with hunger, thirst, or discomfort from certain diseases or conditions. Your cat-owning ear is the best interpreter in these situations. If you suspect your cat is ill or in pain, your Banfield Pet Hospital veterinary team can help.

“Me me me!”

Some cats love being petted, groomed, or admired, and will let you know when they are open to these attentions. Have you ever been reading a book, or working on your computer, or even been on a video conference call, only to have your cat plop themselves down right in the way? This is that meow. 

“Feed me!”

Cats have amazing internal clocks when it comes to mealtime. Forget the early bird getting the worm – many cats will not only know when it’s time to eat, but they may show up early, with many verbal reminders, just in case you forget. You might notice these cries get louder and more frequent as the time grows near, and transition to shorter, faster meows when food is actually approaching the bowl. 

“I’m stressed!”

Cats can be sensitive to change, whether it’s a new home, a new pet or baby, or schedule changes around the house. These sorts of lonely meows can be solved just by spending time with them (see “Me me me” above). Petting and reassuring can help ease the adjustment and reduce stress – for both of you. 

“I’m confused!”

Some cats may experience a decline in cognitive function as they get older. If you suspect your cat’s excessive meowing is due to age, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your Banfield veterinary team.

“Mine!”

Cats have distinct noises they make when other cats come into “their” territories (even if they only see them through a window). These sounds may be less like a meow, and more like a scream or a yowl. You may not want to interact with your cat while they’re in this mood, but we recommend checking out the situation before it devolves into a real catfight. 

“Hey good-lookin’!”

When a non-spayed cat goes into heat, and a unneutered male gets the notion, expect a lot of noisy cat serenades. In addition to preventing unwanted kittens, spaying or neutering your pet can prevent a lot of seasonal screeching – it may sound like love songs to your cat, but can be really rough on you, not to mention your neighbors.

We recommend your male pet be neutered and your female pet be spayed before they reach sexual maturity, which can also reduce the risk of fights and the spread of infectious diseases. Banfield Pet Hospital's Optimum Wellness Plans® include a spay or neuter option. It makes doing the right thing for your pet easier on your budget.

Besides these common meows, you probably will find your cat has many other meows for many other situations. Maybe sometimes they’re just saying “Hi!” And who wouldn’t want to hear that?

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