What's in a Meow? Or Kitty Code 101: The Meaning of Meow

Cats are great communicators. They have so many ways to tell us how happy / displeased / upset / scared / sleepy / loving they are. Cats have more than 100 vocal sounds! That’s a pretty chatty kitty. The sound a cat makes that we are most familiar with is usually translated in English as “meow” (mee-yow). Cats have plenty of other sounds as well, like screeching, hissing, and whatever that noise is when they get wet. We know what meows sound like, but what about why a cat meows? We will crack the kitty communication code and give you the meaning of the meow.

The Meaning of “Meow”

Just about every language has a word for this cat sound. Most of them sound like the cat meow itself, just spelled in the native language alphabet. Meow's come in a variety of sounds; short bursts, growls, kitten mews, etc. There are a few distinct meows with different meanings. Cats don’t meow to signal other cats, it’s a special sound just for us humans! Some of the reasons a cat will meow are:

  • As a signal for things (they think) need your attention
  • In distress, ill, or hurt
  • Hunger
  • Let me in or out
  • Aging
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Bodily changes (e.g. females in heat)

The anatomy of a cat meow is pretty fascinating. They have two sets of vocal cords, larger and smaller. Smaller cords help make the purring sounds. When cats exhale, it forces the air through the vocal cords which creates  a vibration. The muscles surrounding the cords act as tuners and help create the different varieties of sounds. 

Kitties are special creatures and show love and affection in so many different ways. It’s pretty special to have an animal that has a special communication tool just for you! If you have any questions about our Kitty Kasas, you can use this tool to communicate with us! We’d love to hear from you.