Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Cat's Meow

What does it mean when your cat Meows?  

* A short meow or mew indicates a standard greeting.  You cat is saying "Hi!"

* Multiple meows or mews indicate an excited greeting.  "I'm so happy to see you!!"

* Mid-pitch meow indicates a need for something. (If your cats are like mine, it is usually food! lol)  "I want what you're having!!"

* A long drawn out Mrrrrrrooooooooowwww is a demand for something.  "I want that ice-cream NOW!!"

* A low pitch drawn out Mrrrrroooooowwwww is a complaint.  "My bowl is empty!!"

* A high pitch RRROOOWWW indicates anger or pain.  "Get off my tail!!!"

A friend of mine recently brought to my attention that although cats may collectively meow in unison, cats only meow directly to humans - and not other cats, beyond kitten-hood.  This really took me by surprise, as I have had cats for most of my life.  Upon thinking about it and watching my own two (Pictured above) and doing some research.  It's true!

When cats are kittens, they meow to get their mother's attention and indicate a need.  "I'm hungry." ... "Groom me." .... "I need a cuddle." .... "You're squishing me!"

As cats become adults, they communicate with other cats (and other animals) through body language, facial expression, position of ears, positioning of tail and scent.  Because most humans miss these subtle signals, domestic cats have evolved the meow language from kitten-hood in order to communicate with their owners.  

In my research I came across an interesting study where meow sounds were played for a group of people, and they were asked to identify what the cat was trying to convey - without the benefit of seeing the cat.  They were only able to listen to the audio.  78% of the people (most of whom were cat owners) were correctly able to identify the need of the cat.

I found this fascinating. To me it is almost like a mother who can identify the need of their infant's cry.  Whether the baby is hungry, uncomfortable, needs a cuddle or a diaper change.

So the moral of the story; the next time your cat meows at you,  you should feel honored!  Your cat has developed this language especially for you!!