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Ask A Vet: Why Does My Cat Meow At Me?

I think we can all agree that meowing is a form of communication. Animal experts agree that meows are attempting to convey a need, physical, emotional or social. People seem to accept that cats speak through meows, but actually, adult felines rarely communicate with each other in this way. However, everyone who lives with a cat knows that her meow carries meaning in the human-cat interaction. In fact, if you ask an individual cat owner to interpret the sounds of cats, he or she will be much better able to “translate” the meaning of the meows of their own cats than strange cats.  It seems to be somewhat of a personal language between a cat and their person and not universal “cat speak”.  No one knows if this is because the owner has adapted to what the cat is trying to communicate or if the cat has adapted to what the owner seems to understand and respond to.

Some of the time, meows will indicate a physical need like hunger, but not always, so make sure that you are not feeding your cat at times when she is not really seeking food.  Mistakenly feeding attention-seeking behaviors can lead to obesity for cats.

Emotional and social needs can also motivate a cat to meow. Some cats meow in greeting, there are also sounds in cats that convey more intensity, like a mating call or yowl or a fear scream. The people that are closest to the cat are the most likely to know the meaning of each individual cry for their cat.

Most cat lovers like that they and their cats have a communication, but if the meowing becomes extreme, there are things that you can do. Make sure that your cat is using her mind and her body to avoid boredom. Make a daily ritual of playing, stalking, and apprehending. There are a variety of toys that make cats chase and pounce. Give her an outlet for her natural restlessness. A busy cat is more likely to sleep well and a happy cat is more likely to be calm and quiet.

If your cat is meowing at your excessively, you may want to see your veterinarian to make sure that she is not attempting to communicate with you that something is wrong.  Cats are masters at hiding disease because they are not extremely evolved from their wild predecessors and they instinctively avoid flagging themselves as weak to avoid predation. All cats (even ones that seem healthy) need to have a full veterinary exam at least once yearly.

People without cats may not understand you and your cat’s language, but you do…and so do I!

 

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