Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

A meow is not just a meow: learn how to understand your feline friend

Have you ever listened to your cat and wondered what they’re trying to say? Well experts may have discovered what your cat means when it lets out a “meow.”

More: This cheat sheet makes it easy to understand your crazy cat

Sweden’s Lund University has been trying to decipher the feline code. According to The Telegraph, the phonetic experts involved in the studies claim that wild cats do not meow for long. They only tend to do this when they are very small and then grow out of it when they no longer need to attract their mother’s attention for milk. Instead they rely on visual and olfactory signals from other cats.

On the other hand domestic cats still meow. The researchers reason that they do this to attract the attention of their human companions.

What’s more, they’re not just trying to attract your attention but also communicate their feelings — whether they be happy, sad or hungry.

Lead researcher Susanne Schötz, a reader in phonetics, revealed that she has found differences in the sounds of a cat’s meow.

“I found with my cats, they have a different sound to their music when they are sad, compared with when they are happy,” Schötz said, according to the Metro.

More: It’s actually good news that cats don’t need their owners

“It kind of seems that cats can change intonation or melody consciously, perhaps, to convey a certain message or to boost the urgency of the message or to convey emotions.”

Schötz hopes to examine these differences in a cat’s meow and see how the cats react to their owners.

“For example we want to know if you [they] prefer cats pet directed speech, or prefer to speak like adults,” she said. “We still have much to learn about how cats perceive human speech. We will do some listening tests to see which they prefer. They prefer children’s voices for adults? We do not know. [sic]”

With the help of 50 cats in different areas, researchers are hoping to decipher what the cats are saying so that they can help cat owners better understand their pets. It’s going to be a few years before the findings are published but, for now, you can learn to better understand your furry friend by interpreting the general meaning of certain sounds.

More: 7 reasons owning a cat is good for your health

Soft meow: According to BandofCats, this tiny sound means your cat wants attention and could be a plea for sympathy.

Hiss: Perhaps one of the most haunting sounds you can hear come out of your cat, a hiss indicates a very unhappy feline who feels threatened and is willing to fight if necessary.

Yowl: The yowl is usually a longer, drawn out moan which, according to ModernCat, indicates that your feline is worried or in discomfort. If a yowl is to another cat this could mean that they want to mate or they don’t want the other cat in their territory.

Snarls or growls: These noises usually accompany a hiss and, according to ModernCat, they suggest that your cat is afraid, angry or being territorial.

Trill: According to Catster this a friendly greeting that sounds somewhere between a purr and a meow.

Chatter: If you see your cat gazing longingly out of the window at a bird, squirrel, mouse or some other prey while making a sort of chattering noise this, according to Catster, indicates their frustration and/or excitement.

Purr: Most people will agree that a purr, that deep throaty rumble, signifies that your cat is happy and content. However, according to professor of veterinary behaviour at the University of Georgia Dr. Sharon Crowell-Davis, purring indicates a plea from the animal saying, “don’t go anywhere please” and is often used when the cat isn’t well.

Does your cat make any other sounds not in the list above? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

21 times Taylor Swift totally nailed being a crazy cat lady
Image: Taylor Swift/Instagram

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.