Why Do Cats Meow? (The Answer May Surprise You)

Picture of a cat meowing - why do they do it?

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When most people think of cats, the first thing that comes to mind is their cute little meows. But why do cats meow in the first place? What are they trying to communicate to us when they make these noises? This article will explore why cats meow and what each type of meow might mean.

Get Attention

One of the most common reasons why cats meow is to get attention from their human companions. If your cat is staring at you and meowing, it is probably because they want you to pet them or give them a treat.

This is especially true if the meow is accompanied by rubbing against your leg or reaching up with their paw. They will continue to meow until they get the attention they are looking for, so it is best to give in and give them what they want.

Get Fed

Why do cats meow at night? Cats will also meow when hungry and want you to feed them. If you have a set feeding schedule for your cat, they will learn when it is time to eat and will meow accordingly. However, some cats may try to manipulate their owners into feeding them more often than they should by constantly meowing or crying.

Express Pain or Discomfort

Cats will also meow when they are in pain or feel uncomfortable. If your cat is meowing more than usual, it could signify that they are sick or injured. If this is the case, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. While some pain or discomfort can be treated at home, it is always best to avoid caution and have your cat checked out by a professional.

Cats also meow when they are in heat. If your female cat is meowing excessively, it could be because she is ready to mate. If you do not want your cat to have kittens, getting her spayed as soon as possible is vital.

Seek Reassurance

Why do cats meow at humans? Cats also meow when they feel insecure or scared. This is most common in kittens who are meowing for their mother’s attention. However, adult cats may also meow for reassurance in a new or unfamiliar environment.

One of the best ways to calm a scared or anxious cat is to pet them and talk to them in a soft, reassuring voice. In addition, you can try giving them a safe space to hide in, such as a cat cave or a blanket fort.

Say Hello

Why do cats meow in the morning? Finally, cats also meow as a way of greeting their human companions. If you come home from work and your cat meows at you, they are probably just happy to see you. Cats are generally not as vocal as dogs, but they still like to express affection for their owners.

Tips from Our Vets

Cats make excellent companions and bring so much joy to our lives. Unfortunately, however, they cannot speak to us.

If your pet exhibits odd behavior, it can be worrisome and difficult to know if the behavior is normal or a reason for concern.

Not sure why your cat is exhibiting a specific behavior?

  • Some behaviors can seem very odd but may be completely normal.
  • Others could signal illness or injury.
  • Due to the lack of ability for a cat to communicate with us verbally, it is imperative to pay close attention to what the cat is telling us through their behavioral changes.

The most important takeaway is that if you are ever concerned about a behavior that your cat is displaying, your best resource for information is your veterinarian.

In general, a new behavior that is not typical for your cat should be investigated. Examples would be:

  • Not eating
  • Suddenly sleeping more than usual
  • Becoming aggressive or grumpy when interacting with other people or pets

These behavior changes most commonly indicate that something is wrong, and your pet needs to see their veterinarian as soon as possible. It is much easier and more likely to be successful, to treat an illness early in its course as opposed to waiting until the cat is very sick.

Other odd behaviors include:

  • Eating feces or vomit
  • Chasing their tail
  • Sudden bursts of activity

These may be completely normal. However, if you notice a drastic change in your cat, for example, they never exhibited one of these behaviors, and now they suddenly are, it is prudent to have them examined by their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Even if the behavior is normal, it may lead to unintended issues.

For example, young cats consuming their feces or the feces of other cats can be a normal behavior but can lead to gastrointestinal upset as well as intestinal parasitism.

Parasites from your cat can cause serious health complications, not only for your cat, but also for you and your family, as many are transmissible to humans.

Licking of the feet or scratching may seem like normal cat behavior but typically indicates a health issue such as allergies, fleas, or skin infection.

Left untreated, these issues will worsen and cause additional discomfort for your cat.

Remember that your best source of reliable health information for your cat is your veterinarian. Because cats cannot verbally communicate with us, it is essential to be proactive with any possible health concerns.

Working with a trusted veterinarian as your partner will ensure many happy and healthy years for both you and your cat.


So there you have it. These are just a few reasons that cats meow:

  • For attention
  • Because they want food
  • To express pain
  • Seeking reassurance
  • To greet you!

 Next time your cat makes noise, take a moment to think about what they might be trying to tell you.

If you’re wondering about other behaviors of your cat, we have a series of guides that explain why your cat may be doing what they’re doing:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.