If you are more than average interested in animals, and in cats in particular, you have probably read many articles about this subject already. This might not come as the discovery of the century, but knowing that your kitty can speak to you (and you to your kitty) is not the same as actually understanding your kitty (or them understanding you)! We do not understand much if you start meowing to us… just keep it plain and simple – preferably in a light, soft voice – and we´ll reply if we feel like it… In addition, every kitty is different, and after a while you learn what they mean just by knowing your kitty. Still, in the beginning it is helpful to have a few guidelines that are almost universally applied.
The meaning of ´meow`
The word ´meow´has four syllables – ´m´- ´e´- ´a´- and ´ow´- and depending on where the cat places the pressure on the word you hoomans can interpret approximately what we mean…
– pressure on ´m´, often accompanied with some r´s, making the sound more like ´mrrrr´is a furriendly gesture which means ´hello´
– I use this particular sound when my hoomans get out of bed in the morning, comes home from work, or after I´ve taken a nap under the stairs – this is also my sound for ´Jenny´whenever I meet her or see her through the window.
– pressure on the ´e´means that the kitty´s stressed out or is in some kind of pain.
– I don´t use this sound very much – in stead I lay down quietly and observe the surroundings or try to find a hiding spot when I´m stressed out. I have used the sound from time to time when hoomans accidentally have stepped on me/ my tail because they are too ignorant to see me waiting impatiently right behind them for my dinner or something…
– if the kitty places the pressure on the ´a´sound of the meow he/she is in demand of something. It could be ANYTHING and it is your job as a hooman to figure out what!
– I use this sound when my food bowls are empty or when there´s a closed door that I need to be opened. (I don´t need to enter the room to which that door leads to – I just need the door to be open) I may also use the sound when I see Jenny outside and I would very much like to accompany her on her adventures!
– if ´a´doesn´t work the pressure goes to ´ow´and it is accompanied by a low voice. Kitty is starting to belive demands aren´t being fullfilled!
– Do I need to tell you when I use this demanding voice?
Meowmy is so lucky to have me, ´cause I am more than happy to let her know my demands. And I usually let her know in a vocal way. I know that some kitties don´t speak as much, but pay close attention to their tail and general attitude and you can see that they do speak – even though they don´t vocalize!
In fact, we kitties don´t usually use vocal interaction amongst ourselves – that is a trait we´ve learned to be able to communicate with hoomans! Although, I love to say ´hi´ when I meet Jenny outside! (she, however, doesn´t say a word, but I know she likes me even so!)
This is a trait special for Maine Coons – we speak A LOT! And you can easily have a two-way conversation with a Maine Coon. Ask us any question and we´ll reply with a ´meow´or a ´mrrr´(and the last one often sound like a question ´mrrr?´)
Hope you enjoyed my little lesson in speaking cat!
The first one is from a Norwegian professor working at the University NMBU and an expert on cat behavior. The latter web-site has several professional articles about cats and understanding cats!