Why do Cats Meow ?
I was recently transporting a cat to the Vets in my car. Something that amazed me was that although this was a beautiful young kitten, she had a very loud “meow”. Perhaps I should clarify that statement … she had a very loud and endlessly repeating “meow”!! Whether Kitten or mature, Cats can convey a lot of emotion in their cries. We always get to hear them in action when photographing cats in Melbourne.
We could be cynical, and say that Cats only meow when they we have something they want! But of course, it’s not quite that simple. :o)
Using the example of that recent visit to the Vet, the majority of meowing is simply trying to gain attention. Perhaps it’s just a mild concern, or a need to let us know that they are there. Typically the longer the “mmeeeeoooowww”, the more they are emphasising the need for some kind of response. Normally, a few months together means that both cat and carer can understand each other needs 90% of the time …
… but then there are those important exceptions ..
If another cat is nearby, and poses a genuine threat, then we will sometime hear more of a deep and guttural “yowl”. If there is any hissing or spitting mixed in there as well, then it can seem as confronting for nearby humans, as it is for other cats. Luckily, the majority of territorial disputes are sorted in this non-physical way.
The next stage up from there, is that incredible “caterwauling”. This is an unmistakably long and unbroken cry that vibrates in tone and volume. It is usually a pre-cursor to a fight with a nearby feline.
I hope we never hear this ourselves, but let’s be honest, accidents happen! Have any of you (like me), accidentally trodden on your furry friend’s tail, while walking across the bedroom in the dark! That sound of ‘pain’ is a very short screech. Far worse still is a repeated screeching if the poor feline is very ill, or had an encounter with an object stronger than our feet! In the case of a kitten, the screech is actually more like a high-pitched and short “squeal”. Like caterwauling, this sound is very different from a conventional meow, and deserves immediate investigation. This is irrespective of the time of day or night that we hear it.
Here are some wonderful photographs of a selection of our more recent cats from around Melbourne:
If any of you are up for a challenge, and want to try ‘training’ your cat to meow less, then here is an interesting article.
Meowing – Cat Photography Melbourne