Cat owners like to talk to their cat and almost all cats meow back. That way you can have fun conversations. But why does a cat meow and do we understand when she does?
Why does a cat meow?
The answer to this question is amazingly simple: a cat meows because we talk back. It is learned behavior. A cat knows very quickly that meowing is the best way to get attention.
Cats hardly meow, if at all. Because of their solitary past, cats communicate with each other through scent and body language. Kittens are an exception. They meow (or call?) To their mother when they are in need or accidentally too far away.
You won’t hear wild cats meowing. That is of no use either, if solitary animals are calling a bit wildly in the forest. A wild cat will also want to scare another cat away. A sound is made, but that can be described as ‘crying’ or screaming.
Talk to you
There is a big difference between cats. Some are extraordinarily talkative and comment on everything, others limit themselves to silent opening and closing the mouth.
Siamese and other Eastern cats are known for their strong voice, but also for the fact that they talk a lot and like to talk.
Whatever the case may be: a cat has a whole repertoire of meows, often specific to that individual.
Do we understand meow?
As an owner you understand meow because it takes place in a (visible) context. A piercing meow at the closed kitchen door is a clear hint. It becomes a lot harder if you don’t see your cat. From research shows that owners still do not know so well what the cat. Cat owners do hear the difference between an agonistic (negative) and an affiliative (friendly) meow.
Your cat meows a lot
Sometimes meowing is considerably less pleasant, for example at 5 o’clock in the morning. Then remember that meowing is learned behavior. Your cat meows a lot because she knows that you always respond.
Calling ‘no’ or ‘stop’ from your warm bed is exactly what the cat wants. It is a confirmation that you are still there and that you respond to her behavior. Getting up and feeding the cat out of sheer misery is of course the ultimate reward for her …