Cat Meow
Meow! What’s your cat saying?
Although it may seem that cats meow in order to communicate with other cats, this isn’t normally the case. It’s most likely that your cat uses this sound (and others) to attract your attention - because he needs to, or because he’s frightened or excited. Furthermore, the meow will be accompanied by some kind of non-verbal communication, a look or hissing. In today’s post we’re going to decipher the meaning of your cat’s meow: by analysing his behaviour and the sound he’s making we can get an idea of what he’s telling us.
What does your cat’s meow mean?
Why might your cat be meowing?

It’s easier to work out what he means if we look at the context of his miaowing – his behaviour, the situation. For instance, if your cat’s meowing in front of a closed door, you can be pretty sure that he wants you to open it for him. If he’s meowing in front of his empty food plate, he’s attracting your attention because he wants you to feed him. When you get home your cat will no doubt give you a short meow to say hello. Or if you’ve left him alone for too long, he won’t stop meowing to let you know that he’s angry with you.

However, your cat doesn’t always meow just to get your attention. There are other reasons, such as when a cat is in heat: this is one of the few times when your cat will meow to attract other cats. Although you may think that only the females meow, the males normally do too, but in the case of females it goes on for a bit longer than usual.

Another reason your cat might meow is because he’s still a kitten: a short, sharp meow, ideal for getting his mother’s attention whether it’s because he’s hungry, cold, frightened or in pain.

What do the different sounds your cat makes mean?

As well as the usual ‘meow!’, there are other sounds your cat might make.

  • Purring: one of the most typical, low and rhythmic, usually when your cat is happy or relaxed.
  • Hissing: generally accompanied by non-verbal language such as an arched back and flattened ears…
  • Growls: are usually longer and deeper. They are used as a threat, and to avoid fights with other cats.
  • Sharp, high-pitched meow: normally an expression of a specific pain – for example ‘you’ve just stepped on my tail!’
  • Chattering: this sort of meow comes with situations where your cat is excited, generally due to the proximity of prey, or the frustration of not being able to catch that prey. As they ‘chatter’, their jaws quiver in a very distinctive way.

Apart from hunger, wanting a door opened, or to say hello, your cat may miaow for many other reasons:

Dirty litter tray

As you know, cats are very clean animals, and if his litter tray isn’t clean enough for him, he’ll meow to let you know.


Although cats don’t generally express pain verbally, it may be that a specific pain leads him to get your attention to ask for help. There will be other signs at the same time, and the tone of the meow will be different to the usual one.


Another of the most common reasons. Cats are creatures of habit, and if something or someone causes a change in their routine, they’ll surely let you know by persistent meowing.


You know what cats are can be like, one minute they’re playful, and the next they decide they’ve had enough. They’ll let you know with an aggressive meow. 


No doubt more than once your cat has felt affectionate and has attracted your attention by miaowing softly, asking to be stroked.

Now that you know what you cat’s saying when he meows you’ll be better able to understand him and have a better relationship. As your cat gets older and you become more familiar with his habits, you'll be able to identify what he's clamouring for when he meows. Although he may seem very independent, deep down your cat needs your presence, and your attention.

Cat Meow