Why do cats meow? Explaining your pet’s vocal expressions

  • Cats meow to communicate with you. Different noises can indicate a variety of needs and wants.
  • Some cats meow more than others. Elderly cats may do this because of cognitive dysfunction.
  • You can try communicating with your cat by using an uplifting tone to indicate friendliness.

Wondering about the cat’s meow? No, we’re not talking about the 2001 Kirsten Dunst flick. The English language is riddled with phrases relating to cats — “the cat’s pajamas,” “it’s raining cats and dogs” and “the cat’s meow,” to name a few. The third originated in the 1920s and means that something is enjoyable or desirable. 

But cat owners know that a real cat’s meow can sometimes be neither enjoyable nor desirable. Cute at times, excessive meowing can be a headache for guardians of these furry friends. Here’s what your cat’s meow is trying to tell you, and what to do if it becomes too much. 

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A cute ginger kitten peeks out of a wicker pod.

Why do cats meow?

The answer is domestication. Before cats began living alongside humans as pets, they communicated with each other using their sense of smell or by urinating or rubbing against trees, LiveScience reports. Now, the common household kitty meows to get its owner’s attention. 

Kittens meow to get their mother’s attention when they’re young. Older house cats do the same with their guardians, but feral cats tend to outgrow meowing. Cats also don’t meow to other cats — that function is reserved for their two-legged friends. 

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