The secret language of cats

Are you more of a ‘dog person’, or would you say you’re a ‘cat person’?

While many ‘dog people’ might believe cats can be a little antisocial and standoffish sometimes (even Winston Churchill said, “Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us”), the opposite is true!

According to an Oregan State University study, most cats prefer interaction with their human over food, toys, and interesting scents. The study also suggests the better we know our cats, the better we get along.

So, does your cat share their secret language with you?

Cats communicate through body language and miaows

Body language vs meow

Have you caught your cat communicating with their feline friends through body language, without using their voice?

Although kittens will make sounds to let their mother know they’re hungry or want attention, adult cats don’t need to meow at each other to show their feelings. In fact, it’s believed our cats are so intelligent that they’ve learned to tell us what they want with their voice; meaning your cat’s meow is meant just for you!

What does it mean when a cat meows a lot?

You might be wondering why your cat is whining so much, or whether there’s a cause for their constant calls.

There may be many reasons your cat suddenly starts meowing a lot. It could be linked to excitement at seeing you, though if your cat is meowing more than usual, there could be an underlying health reason:

  • Stress.
  • Pain.
  • Changes in their vision.
  • Hearing issues.
  • Hunger (caused by hyperthyroidism, for example).
  • Thirst (caused by diabetes, for example).
  • Behavioural changes (e.g cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or CDS).

If you’re concerned about your cat’s meowing, please contact your vet.

What do different meows mean?

Just like dogs have different barks, cats have different ‘miaows’ or ‘meows’.

Your feline friend might meow to ask for something or ‘mew’ to greet you, they can growl to let you know to keep away or make their meows match the urgency of their request – when it’s dinner time and they want food, for example!

The cat growl

Cats can growl.

It’s quite low-pitched compared to our canine friends, though your cat’s growl is used as a warning. If you hear your cat growling, they aren’t happy about something.

Often, cats will growl at other cats while they’re eating to warn them to stay away. Should you hear your cats growling at each other, it’s best to separate them to prevent a fight from breaking out!

The best way to avoid arguments between your cats at feeding time is to place their feeding bowls at a large distance from each other.

The creaking door meow

You might hear this strange sound when your cat is hungry!

There may be more than one meow at a time, as your cat communicates their impatience when they want their food straight away.

All cats have a different way of trying to tell you it’s feeding time, and you’ll likely learn to recognise this meow as a pet parent.

The one-syllable meow

The one-syllable meow is a greeting you might hear in the morning, or when you come home from work. These are short and sweet, as your cat creates “meh”, “eh”, or “mew” sounds!

Owners get to recognise their cats different miaows

Miaow after miaow

As long as your cat is in good health and isn’t stressed, meow after meow might mean your cat is excited about something.

Whether they’re happy to see you, or delighted to hear the rustling of a treat packet, you’ll soon recognise your cat’s cheerful meowing!

The caterwaul

Cat howling – what does it mean?

If your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered and you hear them performing this shrill, wailing noise, they could be signalling to other cats that it’s time to breed.

Sadly, many kittens end up in rescue centres because there aren’t enough homes for them. To protect your cat, and others, from unwanted pregnancies, please speak to a vet about getting your cat spayed or neutered.


By learning your cat’s unique meows, you’ll be better able to communicate with them!


Looking for more cat advice?

We’ve written some handy cat advice guides, to help you unlock the secrets of your mysterious moggy.


Need cat insurance?

Cat insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your cat gets injured or falls ill.


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