Why Cats Meow
These are the most common reasons why cats meow:
To greet people. Your cat can be expected to meow in greeting when you come home, when she meets up with you in the house or yard, and when you speak to her.
To solicit attention. Cats enjoy social contact with people, and some will be quite vocal in their requests for attention. The cat may want to be stroked, played with or simply talked to. Cats who are left alone for long periods of time each day may be more likely to meow for attention.
To ask for food. Most cats like to eat, and they can be quite demanding around mealtimes. Some cats learn to meow whenever anyone enters the kitchen, just in case food might be forthcoming. Others meow to wake you up to serve them breakfast. Cats also learn to beg for human food by meowing.
To ask to be let in or out. Meowing is the cat’s primary way to let you know what she wants. If she wants to go outside, she’ll likely learn to meow at the door. Likewise, if she’s outdoors and wants in, she’ll meow to get you to let her back inside. If you’re trying to transition a cat from being indoor-outdoor to living exclusively indoors, you may be in for a period of incessant meowing at doors and windows. This is a difficult change for a cat to make, and it will very likely take weeks or even months for the meowing to stop.
Elderly cats suffering from mental confusion, or cognitive dysfunction, may meow if they become disoriented—a frequent symptom of this feline version of Alzheimer’s Disease. For more information, please read our article on Behavior Problems in Older Cats.
To find a mate. Reproductively intact cats are more likely to yowl. Females yowl to advertise their receptivity to males, and males yowl to gain access to females.
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