In French, it’s meow. Espanol? Miao. For anglophones, it’s the “meow”. Yes, you certainly hear your cat vocalize. But what exactly does your feline say?
In short, a meow (no matter the language) is essentially a request: feed me; scratch me; entertain me! And yes, this sound is for you. As mothers begin to ignore the kittens’ meows as soon as cats are weaned, adult cats do not communicate with each other aloud. Unless one cat grunts or whistles against another, they usually talk about perfume, movement, and eye contact. So this meow is everything for you, human mom!
And usually, kittens start with short, direct, high-pitched noises to reveal their secrets: “I’m bored and hungry.” As Nicholas Nicastro discovered during a study at Cornell University, cat sounds are less of a language are emotional expressions. You can hear the same meow for food as for the game. This means that cats have trained us to answer calls, no matter the noise. Hmm. Well done, cats.
If your cat’s meow gets weaker, longer or more urgent, it means he loses patience and you do not hurry! However, if your cat starts to combine strange behavior with one of those long, feeble screams, it may be time to consult the veterinarian (especially for older felines). Like a ship lost in the night, your cat sends distressing mews in the form of SOS, alerting you to deeper problems like feline Alzheimer’s disease or thyroid problems.
You do not know if it’s a meow? It could also be a chirp or a trill, another voice used by felines to express their happiness, which is always reassuring.