Facts about the animal kingdom

Why Does My Cat Meow When They See Me?

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. April 22, 2022
Why Does My Cat Meow When They See Me?

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Although they communicate mainly through body language, cats make all kinds of sounds that have different meanings. The meow is certainly the best known of all. If you share your home with a cat, you have probably asked yourself questions like “Why does my cat meow when it sees me?”, “Why does my cat meow a lot?”, or even “Why does my cat meow so funny?”. Meowing occurs in different contexts and can have different meanings. This characteristic sound reveals a lot about a cat's state of mind and how they react to the stimuli they perceive in their environment.

Our AnimalWised article explains why your cat meows, what it means, and how it can help you improve communication and strengthen your bond with him.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Cat Meow When I Pet It?
  1. Meows of cats and their possible meanings
  2. Why does my cat meow when it sees me? - 7 motives
  3. Why is my cat meowing more than usual?
  4. Why does my cat meow when it relieves itself?

Meows of cats and their possible meanings

A cat's meow can have different meanings, depending on the context in which the animal finds itself and what it wants to communicate to humans or cats. To interpret each meow, it is important to know the cat's body language, because the vocalization is accompanied by certain postures and facial expressions that “reveal” what the cat is feeling at that moment. In addition, we must also pay attention to the tone of voice, intensity, and frequency.

In general, the stronger, more intense and more frequent the meowing, the more urgent and important the message that the cat wants to convey.

For example, an aggressive cat meows loudly and intensely, possibly punctuated by a snort, and assumes a defensive posture that announces a possible attack (e.g., a fluffy, shaggy tail and ears set back). A cat that meows to announce its hunger, on the other hand, will emit a prolonged meow and stay close to its food, its guardian, or the place where its guardian normally keeps food.

During heat, unneutered or spayed cats emit a loud meow that is very high-pitched and insistent. This is a sexual call that resembles an intense cry. Since feline heat can occur at any time of year, these meows are common in stray female cats. The only reliable and safe way to control this meowing is to have the cat neutered.

If you want to know more about the behavior of neutered cats in heat, do not miss our article my neutered cat is in heat.

Why Does My Cat Meow When They See Me? - Meows of cats and their possible meanings

Why does my cat meow when it sees me? - 7 motives

Normally, a cat meows to get the attention of its guardian and to convey a message that it considers important. However, this message can express different moods, desires, or needs. To help you better understand cat language and communication and interpret why your cat meows when it sees you, we summarize below the 7 most common reasons for meowing:

  1. Your cat is greeting you: if your cat meows when you come home, it is a way of welcoming you. The meow has a happy sound and is accompanied by a similar friendly body posture, such as a raised tail, ears pointing forward, and a calm facial expression.

  2. Your cat is asking for something: In these situations, the meowing is loud and intense and the cat meows until they get the item they want. For example, hunger, a desire to go outside, a desire to get a treat, etc. Remember that cats cling to routines to feel secure, so always respect their feeding schedules and domestic habits. If your cat meows incessantly and in a loud voice when she sees you, she will ask you for something.

  3. Your cat is surprised: cats can also meow when something surprises, interests or pleases them. This vocalization is very short and resembles a short cry, like a positive exclamation. Cats may meow in this way when you take away their favorite treat, when you want to serve them a meal they like, or when you take away their favorite toy to play with them.

  4. Your wants to talk: each cat has a unique personality that is not only determined by their genetic heritage (although this is an important factor). The environment, care, and education provided by the caretaker also determine a cat's behavior and the way it expresses itself on a daily basis. If your cat is sociable and communicative, it may meow to communicate with you.

  5. Your cat is bored: if your cat is bored or wants to be petted, they are likely to meow to get your attention and to ask you to take some time attending to their needs and wants. However, if you notice that your cat is constantly showing signs of boredom, you should pay attention to their environment to ensure that your cat is finding ways to expend energy, entertain themselves, and exercise. An enriching environment is crucial for a positive environment that encourages your cat to play, engage in daily physical activity, and exercise their senses and intelligence. This helps maintain a healthy weight and balanced behavior to avoid the symptoms of feline obesity and behavioral problems that can accompany a sedentary lifestyle.

  6. Your cat is asking for help: if your cat is in pain, sick or injured, they may get your attention by meowing and asking for help. The tone, frequency, and intensity of the meowing will depend on the urgency, health condition and degree of pain the cat is in. If your cat is meowing deeply and constantly, you should not hesitate to take it to the veterinary clinic for examination. Also, we recommend that you consult your veterinarian if you notice a negative change in their appearance or usual behavior.

  7. Your cat is communicating dissatisfaction: You will hear your cat meow if its behavior is not to their liking. In this way, they express their dissatisfaction with your behavior or with unusual events at home.This meowing can also occur when you leave your cat alone at home without an enriching environment to occupy them. It may be accompanied by frequent crying.

However, despite advances in clinical ethology, there is no standardized and rigorous manual that you can use to understand your cat's meowing, as each cat is a unique creature with unique behavior. For this reason, it is important that you take the time to learn about your cat's personality, observe its behavior, and gradually learn to interpret its individual sounds and body postures.

If you want to know more about the different ways cats communicate, with people and other animals, read this article on how do cats communicate?

Why is my cat meowing more than usual?

Since cat meowing has several meanings, there are also many possible explanations for why a cat meows more often than usual. Older cats may start meowing more than usual because aging leads to a progressive deterioration of their senses and cognitive functions, making them feel more vulnerable or weaker and hyper-sensitive and reactive to all kinds of stimuli.

If your cat spends a lot of time alone and does not have an enriching environment to entertain and exercise in, excessive meowing may show up as a symptom of stress, boredom, or anxiety.

On the other hand, if you notice that your cat meows strangely or stops meowing, you should know that aphonia can be a symptom of a cold in cats, as well as of some laryngeal or respiratory diseases. For this reason, we recommend that you take your cat to the veterinarian if you notice a change in their vocalizations, posture, or behavior, such as a “clipped” meow that is deeper or weaker than it normally sounds.

If you want to know more about how to entertain your cat, read our article on toys for cats, ideas, and tips for playing with your cat.

Why does my cat meow when it relieves itself?

On the other hand, if your cat meows when they go to the litter box, you should be alert because this may be a sign that your cat is in pain and having difficulty urinating or defecating. Painful urination can be a symptom of some urinary tract conditions, such as a feline urine infection. Painful bowel movements or constipation, on the other hand, may indicate digestive problems or an excessive buildup of hairballs in your gastrointestinal tract. So, if you notice your cat meowing when they relieve themselves, you should urgently take them to the vet to have them examined.

It is really important to pay attention to your cat's diet and check that their feces or urine do not show any abnormalities such as blood or parasites.

If you want to know more about the most common urinary infections in cats, you should read this article on why is my cat urinating blood?

Why Does My Cat Meow When They See Me? - Why does my cat meow when it relieves itself?

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Why Does My Cat Meow When They See Me?