Do Cats Understand Human Meows


Feline language is totally different from the human language. Fortunately, this does not mean you cannot communicate with your kitty. She will try relaying messages to you using her eyes, the position of her eyes, the tone of her voice, and the motion of her tail among other things. As the recipient, you have to learn to decode the message by spending quality time with her and doing some research. Now, to make the communication two-way, how do you respond? Of course, giving her what she needs is a response but what about using your voice? I know I’m not the only one who meows at my cat, but can she understand me?

do cats understand human meows

Let us be honest; cats cannot understand human meows. Of course, they will learn to associate it with whatever you teach them to through training. But other than that, to them, it just sounds like the normal human language. This is because humans cannot make the exact meow that cats make, therefore each meow sounds different.

Meowing at cats allows one to mock them but on a level that they can appreciate. However, I have to acknowledge that all cats are different. Some will walk away once they realise it was a human meowing, others will interrupt immediately with an angry meow, while others will join in the meowing. It all comes down to their personality and the relationship with the human. Not all cats will engage you in a back and forth meow competition. Breeds such as the British Shorthair are not chatty and their meows are infrequent. How do you ensure your meow conveys the intended message? Keep reading to find out!

do cats understand human meows

Do Cats Understand Human Meows?

The feline vocalisation “meow’ has an all-purpose function in cats. It could be a command (I want food or I want to go out), an objection (don’t touch me), a greeting, or an announcement. However, the difference in the meaning lies in the tonal and pitch variations. If you decide to mimic your cat, make sure you know what that meow means when it comes from her. Don’t confuse your cat by contradicting her language meanings.

The greeting meow
As a cat parent, it is not insane to find yourself meowing back at your cat when you get home. Her version of the human ‘Hi’ is a truncated meow that often sounds like ‘aw’ or “ew’. This one is a happy meow that your cat is willing to share with you. It is some form of greeting and is mostly concise. They will expect a cuddle afterwards but the British Shorthair will not since they aren’t lap cats. They will just meow back and walk away or just walk away after your response.

do cats understand human meows

I have noticed that pro-social meows end on a high note so you should probably give a staccato or brief response. Otherwise, continuous meowing will sound like Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! This is quite irritating to cats and knowing them too well, they will be like ‘crazy human’ and stop responding then leave you. If you are unlucky you might get a head butt or an angry sound.

The call meow
My British shorthair calls her kitten by making a staccato sound before proceeding to meow. After realising this, I took advantage and used the same call on the mother and she came. Therefore, you can mimic your cat’s call meow and use it to summon her. She will come expecting you to do something for her. Instead of calling out her name, this can be the new call word. This is easier than naming her since she doesn’t have to be taught that the call refers to her. She naturally associates it with herself. Disclaimer, some cats will decide not to come but will at least give a meow for acknowledgement.

Random customised meows
I am convinced that every time you meow at a cat it sounds different. Some will try to understand you but give up and leave when they can’t. Oftentimes, they do pay attention to your response since they sought your attention in the first place. Your meows will, however, not mean anything to your cat until you teach her how to decode them. Imagine your cat meowing you to give her food then you meow back, quite irritating right?

do cats understand human meows

You need to train your cat what your meows mean since they aren’t similar to hers. For instance, you can use two meows every day before feeding her. After a while, she will consider two meows as a meal-time call. Try using different meow to signal different things and your intelligent kitty will learn. It is frustrating to listen to something you do not understand so don’t put your cat in that situation.

Why Do Cats Meow Only At Humans?

Cats simply do not meow at each other unless they are communicating with their kitten. They reserve meows for their human friends only. The main reason why they do so is that domesticated cats are dependent on humans. They meow to ask for food, to be cuddled, to be let outside, or just to seek attention. It is up to you to know what meow your cat is making and what it means.

Another reason why cats developed this is that human beings cannot understand most of their non-verbal language. Imagine having to figure out your cat’s olfactory communication, impossible right? Human beings are also not so keen on noticing the subtle facial expressions and body language made by cats. They happen so fast that you need them to pause to allow you enough time to interpret. Moreover, cats have small facial features that make it difficult to make out what expressions they make.

do cats understand human meows

Lastly, cats meow at their human friends just to get what they want. It is a sound they have refined over the years through evolution to manipulate humans. Have you ever realised that at times the meow almost sounds like a human baby crying? It sounds like a sharp desperate cry. That is not a sound you can just ignore. Your automatic reflex action will be to find that cute little animal and find out what she wants. And, cats being as intelligent as they are, they realised they can use it for their benefit.

Importance of Talking To Your Cats

Communicating with cats is beneficial to both parties. First, talking to your cat in an affectionate and caring way strengthens the bond between you two. It is a great way to display your love for her and her reaction shows how much she loves you.

When you decode and understand your cat’s message accordingly, it makes her feel understood. She will feel secure since you can detect what she wants whether it is food, cuddles, or to go outside. This is important since a domesticated feline is dependent on humans. Furthermore, communication and understanding is key in every relationship since learning what one likes or dislikes is crucial.

Communicating with your cat frequently makes teaching commands much easier. As long as you are consistent and use repetition, your cat will learn what you mean quickly. This is despite the fact that she cannot understand the words. Luckily, through repetition, she will learn what to associate the message with.

do cats understand human meows

Normalising talking to your cat will help you notice when there are changes in her voice. Signs of illnesses in cats can be very subtle. If you have mastered her normal tones and pitches, it is easy to recognise a slight change.

Back and forth communication between a cat and the owner makes them feel less lonely. It doesn’t matter whether actual words are understood and said or not, as long as either of them expresses their communication through tone, body language, and posture to the other.

My British Shorthair Cat

Hi, my name is Sarah and I would like to welcome you to MyBritishShorthair.com You will learn here everything you need to know when owning a British Shorthair cat. From a kitten to a fully grown cat, what to do and what to avoid to keep your cat happy and healthy. Enjoy the site!

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