Ah, the meow: that most classic of cat sounds — other than the purr, of course. But generally speaking, cats don’t meow to communicate with one another. They do that with their body language and scent marking more than with their vocalization. The meow is mostly a tool for communicating with us rather obtuse humans, who may not be as clued into their body language as their fellow felines.
But which cats meow the most? Let’s break it down by breed, sex and age, and find out.
Do certain cat breeds meow more than others?
The Oriental breeds — Siamese, Tonkinese, Oriental Shorthair and even the Singapura — are known to love the sounds of their own voices. They sing for their people, and their sometimes ear-splitting yowls and meows are apparently for their own joy, too.
But they’re not the only ones. The gentle-giant breeds, the Maine Coon and the Siberian, love to share their love through a seemingly endless vocabulary of chirps and chortles. The Japanese Bobtail and the Turkish Angora are known to be chatterboxes, too: their chattiness is soft and sweet, much like that of the Maine Coon.
Do female cats meow more than male cats?
There’s no rule of thumb about whether male or female cats are louder or more talkative. In my household, all of my cats are talkers, and I have two females and a male.
That said, intact cats of either sex can be very vocal. Female cats in heat make a variety of noises, some of which even sound like cries of suffering, when they’re calling for mates. Male cats in search of mates can be pretty noisy, too, not to mention the yowls and screeches of the fights they get in when competing for the attention of a female.
Does age play into which cats meow the most?
Kittens meow quite a bit, but their cries are tiny and cute. They are meowing to communicate with their mother. When they’re vocalizing, that means they’re hungry or otherwise uncomfortable, which is why mama cat shows up when she hears her kittens calling her. For her part, the mother cat will also meow at the kittens, mostly in calming chirps and trills.
Mother cats will also meow if they have prey for their kittens. I call that the “Dinner’s ready” meow, and it’s a very particular sound: a trilling call that’s muffled by the prey in her mouth.
Cats get more vocal again as they reach their senior years. If your senior cat starts vocalizing excessively, it could be a sign of an illness like hyperthyroidism. Senior kitties also meow if they get lost or confused; declining eyesight and the possible onset of dementia might make a cat feel afraid, which will cause them to meow for help. If your senior cat starts vocalizing a lot, that’s cause for a trip to the vet.
How felines use cat meowing to communicate with people
As mentioned, we humans can be pretty dense when it comes to understanding the subtleties of feline body language, so our cats treat us like kittens and express their wants and needs with meows. My cats, for example, sing for their meals. They make an endless chorus of chirps and trills as I prepare their food and set it down for them to eat. They also chirp if they want to get on my lap, and they call for help if they get stuck in the closet or locked in a room.
Cats who are comfortable with people — and not utterly terrified by their circumstances — may cry for help if they’re injured or lost. When my cat, Dahlia, got out of my apartment and was injured in a fight with another cat, she meowed when I called her name. I was able to locate her hiding place because of her cries and get her to the vet for medical attention.
So, which cats meow the most, in your opinion? Do you agree with what’s written in this post? Do you have a cat who meows a lot? Why do you think they do that? Please share your meows — er, I mean, thoughts — in the comments!
Thumbnail: Photography by Okssi68/Thinkstock.
Read more about cat meows on Catster.com:
25 thoughts on “Which Cats Meow the Most?”
I think every sound my cat makes means something. I usually know what she wants as I will follow her. If she is hungry she meows at my feet and I follow her to her dish. If she want s to play she meows at my feet then goes to toys. Same thing, if she wants window open she goes to window. I never saw her hiss, but she has no reason to do so. My concern because she is so young she will outlive me and am hoping others will learn her language.
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I have 7 cats all with different personalities. They each have their own special voice. I can never tell when they are hurt or sick. I only know when they want foo d or treats. I have had kitties for more than 40 years. Any advice?
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Simba is one of our family. He is a 5 year old Siamese . He talks about everything and really knows how to ask and is always learning . It’s funny if you watch him you can see him try new ways to do things, almost dog-like behavior, but still a cat. A rock solid muscle 19 lbs. he love to go for walks as all cats do but some can’t handle the environment change. But in the right setting he does just fine on a lease. He cackles at birds and others critters with several different speeds according to e excitement level. I am a true believer if you love you animals as your family they will do as so. Watch “the lion in your living room” great doc on cats.
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I have a 15 year old male ragdoll who is very vocal. He talks to me all the times. He meows when i come home or come into the room. He meows for my attention as well as scratches at my shoulder. He is especially vocal when the bathtub faucet isn’t running for his drinks.
My cat Ellie uses the regular cat vowels as well as the consonants m g v k r and w. In no particular order. So just out of the blue she might say mevrerk
My long-haired calico was abused as a feral kitten and I was the second person to adopt her at 3 years of age. It was a huge adjustment for her to live indoors. But she never meows. She is basically silent except for purrs and an occasional hiss. If she wants something, she sits by my side until I notice her, then jumps up when she has my attention. She holds the handicap bar in the tub during bathing and doesn’t enjoy brushing, but tolerates it.
We have 3 9-year old cats, all siblings, who have lived indoors with us since we discovered them living under a hedge when they were about 5 weeks old. We also have an outdoor calico guy who used to be entirely feral, but finally after 3 years decided we were okay (He’s maybe six). The indoor siblings are all different as far as what they say to us. Smudge (anxiety-prone, asthmatic and diabetic) frequently says “OH, NOOOO!” especially when it’s time for his meds. Benjamin Burt, gives off warnings at night if he thinks I may be getting to close to the end of his bed (BURT, BURT, BURT) and tells me if I haven’t topped off his crunchies (Rack OWWW! Rack ack OWWW!) Their sister, Diva Mae, simply chatters all the time. But Oliver, the outside guy, always meows a polite greeting and loudly says “OYYYY!” when something happens he doesn’t expect.
My 13-1/2 year old Ragdoll male is generally quiet, but when he meows, I answer, and that usually satisfies him. He always chirps to let me know he’s in my path or nearby, and he hollers if he wants his water dish filled. He will bellow the loudest when carrying a sock from room to room, and he won’t stop till he sees a human!
I have 5 cats. All breeds, all found as tiny babies in dire circumstances. Opie, the MC is very needy and a tattletale, he is my most vocal. The minute I walk through the door he has to tell me about his day and doesn’t stop until bed time. Tony de Toeso & his sister Josephine are pretty quiet, Jo rarely makes a sound, Tony has an odd meow when he has his mouth full of whatever he just caught. Critter was a feral for at least the 1st year of his life. He has a cute little chirp. Creature is my foundling Savannah, 21 lbs of lean hunter with a voice that makes his demands very clear.
I have two cats, same litter, brother & sister. They are both vocal but in different ways. Their mother was a barn cat so who knows what their lineage is but my male cat, aptly named “Marley” is very talkative to the point that if I call him, he answers in a tone as though to say, “yes, I’m coming”! He also howls but the reason for it is unknown – sometimes just to make noise, I think. We think he may have some Main Coon in him as he has many similar physical and personality traits.
His sister, Missy, is also vocal but only when she wants to emphasize something. She too is bigger than the average cat but not as big as her brother – more finely boned.
They both have very loud purrs.
I firmly believe that if animals are talked to when young they will learn to understand if not words then tones and actions and will react accordingly. I base my beliefs on not just my two current cats but I grew up on a farm with a variety of animals and have had many pets over the years.
I have brothers, they were born in my house and have always been indoor cats. You would never be able to tell they are brothers and were born the same day. One acts like a new born baby always whining he is a Russian Blue. We say he is a mammas boy. He will stare at me and meow so pathetic until I actually tell him to come up. He is also very skittish and runs from noises. Ironically his name is Macho!
Then we have Diablo who rules the house, he is my 12 year old daughter best friend! He is more like a dog following commands. He will sit at the open door with her and not flinch or move. They have full meowing conversations that are so funny and he even holds her hand.
I have a Siamese cat that has a vocal range bigger than mine. She meows, chirps, squeaks. She sputters at birds and squirrels she sees in the window and can’t get to. None of her sounds are quiet and she gets quite insistant about things she wants.
I have Chucky a 16 year old white oriental short hair and he meows all day every day, even when he is sleeping and you say is name he will meow, if I’m having a conversation with someone he is in on it and as to chat and be acknowledged by everyone. Thankfully he does sleep quietly at night.
My beautiful 2 yr old black cat talks to her self. I can’t mistake when she is talking to me. She also goes roaming the house apparently looking for trouble meowing softly to herself. When she finds trouble she gets quiet. She takes something of mine or knock it to the floor to play. My other girl, a brown stripe, I call Birdsong. Her name is PJ cause she wears jammies. Her meow sounds more like a quiet bird tweet
My big, fat male orange tabby (acts like a Garfield or Morris) was a stray/rescue from the neighborhood. I reckon his age to be around six or seven. He is quite vocal, especially when he wants me to rub his ears or give him a kitty cat massage or get his wet food and treats. Very smart. I have figured out some of his mews and chirps.
Over a long life with cats most of them were fairly vocal, of course, I encouraged it. My Maine Coon, Lucy, Would put her paws on my shoulder, look me on the eye and tell me all about it.
But, my Bombay, Trinket, talks all of the time. Lol She is 11 yrs old, and helped me with the loss of my husband.
We live with my son and Trinket rules the house, she thinks. Cats are unbelievably intelligent if you teach them certain things, too.
We have two cats, brother and sister, and they are so different. Thinking maybe different father’s. Both cats were raised with a Labrador retriever. The female is a typical American Tabby, but with a white muzzle and feet. She follows ‘her’ human(my daughter) everywhere, just like the Lab, who is my daughter’s dog. If my daughter leaves the house, the female will sit at the window and cry for her. The male is long haired and husky. He’s grey W/white muzzle, legs, and belly. You can see the faint striping in the right lighting from his American Tabby heritage. He rarely talks, but only when asking a human where his sister ,or ‘his’ human is. Otherwise they are silent.
My spotted Bengal is very vocal..he is 14 yrs old now . I guess he has lots to say..
I have a female Maine Coon who meows fairly loud at times. It seems to me that she’s lost or doesn’t know where she is. When this happens, I call to her and she’ll come running to me. The vet said she’s probably “calling for her mate,” even though she’s spayed; vet also said she was pretty sure she’d had a litter of kittens before I got her from a rescue center, and brought her to the vet to get her spayed. This girl is very vocal about things and she lets you know if she’s okay or upset about something!
Mine does that a lot too unless I ignore her, then she gets as loud as it takes. She’s a talker. She is 18 and started the whisper or silent meowing only about 3 or 4 years ago. She is a Siamese mix.
Why do some cats never meow above a whisper?