What goes through my cat's head when I meow at him?

Sometimes my cat meows at me. And sometimes I meow back at him. I can make a pretty good approximation of a cat’s meow. Sometimes, he will even meow back at me after I meow at him.

What do all of these meows mean? If I meow at him, what does that make him think? Does he think I can speak his “language?” Do wild wildcats meow also, or is this just something that domestic cats do?

Which Doper has kept up his/her Cat Telepathy License?:dubious:

“No, I said TUNA sandwich … TUNA! T. U. N. A. You’re just messing with me, aren’t you? :rolleyes: Ahch, whatever, I’m going to go find a mouse and then barf in your shoes. Have a nice day.”


I have. It’s an incredibly rare ability possessed only by me… and three other clerks who work at this store.

What do you feel he is saying to you, what do you feel you are saying to him. Go with that, it realyl doesn’t matter past that.

I think cats like tone more than words. My mother would call my cat, Percy and say “Percy treat?” The cat would ignore her. If she said “Percy tree-EEEEET.” And then made the EEEET a very high note, the cat would come running. My cat hated very high sounds, you’d make, she’d come running as if to say “Shut up.”

When you meow at the cat, she’s may be responding to the tone, rather than any word.

Imagine a Swedish person comes up to you and speaks in his native tongue. You reply “Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn børk! børk! børk!” a la Swedish Chef.

The cat hears pretty much what the Swedish guy is hearing.

Not really, because cats don’t have language, so syntax, grammar and even words are unimportant. That is why cats raised in Sweden don’t have any problem communicating vocally with cats raised the US.

In reality it is more similar to hearing a Swedish person laugh or seeing them smile. Regardless of any other differences you can still interpret the qualities of the laugh/smile, ie whether it is relief, mocking etc.
As for what the cat is thinking, it probably isn’t, or not in any way that you can comprehend. You are anthropomorphising too much. Remember a cat has the smarts of a very young human infant at best. It is reacting, not consciously thinking. What are you thinking when you make noise when startled or when you hurt yourself? Nothing at all, your brain responds without much conscious thought at all.

Good answer, Blake, well put.

Your humorous observation about Swedish cats made me wonder if I’d ever seen foreign cats meowing to domestic ones; & then I realized that I haven’t seen cats meow all that much to each other, mostly just to people.

So, I found this at the Wiki page on “cat communication:”

"The ‘meow’ (also spelled ‘miau’, ‘miow’ or ‘miao’) is a vocalization used by kittens to signal a request to their mother. Adult cats do not normally meow to each other, and so the meowing to humans that domesticated cats exhibit is likely partly an extension of the use of this plaintive signal, this time to an unrelated caretaker of a different species.[2] When communicating with humans, adult cats express variations of this tone to demand food or attention, register complaints and convey bewilderment. A slight alteration in tone, pace or punctuation changes the meaning.[3]

While cats occasionally vocalize to one another with purrs, growls, and screams, they generally communicate with one another through body language. When preparing to fight an adversary or to frighten one away, cats can emit long, articulated meows. Most communications recognized as “meow” are specifically for human interaction.[4]"

I don’t know about meowing, but international cats have no trouble communicating through hissing, yeowling etc. As anyone who has ever been to an international cat show can tell you.

I do an amazingly lifelike meow, but my cat could care less.

Not sure, when I’ve passed by a neighbors cat (outdoors), it always meows at me. I then say hi back, it meows again, I say hi again, and it approaches me so I can pet it.

Not that I doubt your abilities, but cats do hear a lot better and with a much wider frequency range than any human so it wouldn’t surprise me if what sounds like a good approximation to you sounds comparatively more like an early 1980’s robot voice to your cat.

Probably true. But I have a really good meow that I do by forcing air between my cheek and upper back teeth (don’t even ask me how I figured out how to do it). I once had an exchange with a kitty I’d just met. I meowed at it, it looked up at me like, “WTF?” and meowed back. We did a couple more volleys and then the cat ran up to me, jumped into my lap and started licking my nose like it had known me all its life. Never got that reaction again but it was the damndest thing.

I just don’t see how there can be a real “GQ” answer to this thread, so I’m moving it off to MPSIMS for further discussion.

Now that we’re off in speculationville (;)), I believe that it is possible to use a cat’s own vocabulary to communicate with it in a very limited way. I’m not very good at it, but when I make the cat’s “there’s a bird or other handy prey animal on the deck” chitter, he will come and look for it. The “back off–I mean it” throaty growl (now with 20% more hissing!!!) that they use on each other sometimes works when I use it on them, too.

Does your cat’s tail twitch when he meows back at you? Perhaps this will help:


You are not wrong there. I’ve never met a cat who hasn’t master the “hiss” 100% :slight_smile:

Oh, I’m sure a Swedish laugh sounds different from an American one. They probably laugh with a Swedish accent too. Like “hyurrrn-DE! hyurrrn-DE! hyurrrn-DE!”


I’m very good at making cat sounds. I can do the trilling chirp they use for, “I’m glad to see you.b Want to play?” I assume it means the same thing coming from me as it does from them.

Cats will develop a pidgin Feline with you, so that you both have a rough idea what you’re talking about.