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Why Do Cats Meow Back At You? (2022) | 7 Reasons for Chatty Cats

As a cat parent, you’ve probably meowed at your cat at least once, trying to communicate with them in their native language. A few times, it may have worked, and they’ve responded. But why do cats meow back at you?

You don’t need to have one of the smartest cat breeds to know how intelligent these tiny felines are. Any cat owner would know that each pet has its own personality and that you get to learn something new from them all the time. 

And, after 10 000 years of domestication, it’s surprising that they haven’t learned to speak to their owners. Or have they? 

why-do-cats-meow-back-at-you
Featured Image by Kim Davies on Unsplash

Do Cats Like When You Talk to Them?

In short, yes.

Did you know that adult cats only meow to communicate with humans? While kittens will meow to “talk” to their moms, adults prefer to do so non-verbally. Instead, they communicate with each other through facial expressions, scents, and body language.

The fact that they make a conscious decision to keep making these sounds to their parent would suggest that they do like it when you talk to them. Whether they understand you or not, talking to them helps build a bond between you.

So, keep chatting away to them about your day, and maybe they’ll answer back with an anecdote or two themselves.

woman-talking-to-cat why does your cat meow at you
Image by Chen on Unsplash

What Do Their Meows Mean?

Cats are able to communicate in a variety of ways, both verbally and non-verbally. Whether it’s as subtle as your cat licking you or as bold as yowling your ear off, when they need something, they will let you know.

Probably the easiest way for your cat to convey a message to you is through meowing. Before you can start blabbing back to your feline, it may be helpful to know what they’re saying first. But what do their meows mean? Here is a quick guide:

Chirp: Cats usually use this for their kittens, so they know to follow them. Similarly, this means they want you to follow them– probably to the cat nip stash.

Purr: You may have noticed that your cat purrs when you stroke them. This could be for a list of reasons, but the most common reason is just that they’re happy.

Meow: A casual and relaxed meow could mean a few things to you. Your cat may simply be greeting you or is making an announcement.

Blue-eyed greyish kitten over a black and white gradient background, meowing.

If your cat stares at you and is meowing in your direction, it may be trying to get your attention. Similarly, a long, drawn-out meow could mean that they want something from you.

Yowl: If you find your cat yowling at a loud volume, they are telling you that they are either in distress or in heat and are looking for a mate.

Does My Cat Understand When I Meow Back?

No evidence shows that cats can understand words– nonetheless, complete sentences. Instead, you may notice that your pet responds to your tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language more. 

While they may not understand what you’re saying, that doesn’t mean you should stop including them in your daily conversations. Interestingly, a few studies show a long list of health benefits of feline and human socialization. 

Talking away is not just good for you, but for your pet too. It builds trust and improves their mood. It also lets them know that they’re in a safe environment which helps them feel at ease.

cat-meowing
Image by Ariana Suárez on Unsplash

Why do Cats Meows Back at You? 7 Reasons

Whether or not you and your cat speak the same language doesn’t matter. They’ll still do their darndest to communicate their needs and wants to you. After all, you are their main caregiver now.

1. They’re Communicating Back at You

They’re called copy-cats for a reason. Cats are natural-born imitators, so if you meow at them, there is a good chance that they’ll give a courtesy meow back to you. 

According to this report, they also often mimic their owners’ habits, personalities, and behaviors. This means that they pay more attention to their owners than previously thought.

2. To Acknowledge You

Despite the bad rep cats have gotten over the years, they are actually sweetie pies. Sometimes a meow can be as simple as just a way of saying they love you. This is usually accompanied by them rubbing against you, purring, and a slow blink to show trust.

Domestic cats can recognize their owners and even recognize their names. So, if you call their names or speak to them (in your language or theirs), there’s a good chance they’ll reply. 

3. To Say Hello

Often times your cat will float in your space and just let out a soft meow. They’re just doing this to drop in a quick “hey” as they do their daily tasks or in between naps in the sun. If you’re standing, it’s usually accompanied by them rubbing against your legs.

woman-cat-interacting
Image by Oleg Ivanov on Unsplash

4. To Get Your Attention

Often times cats will try to get your attention when they’re hungry, bored, or just want cuddles. They will give a big meow the get your attention or even headbutt you. Either way, when they do this, the reasons can vary. 

If it doesn’t seem urgent, it might be something as simple as a head scratch or to fill up the water bowl. But, if you notice, excessive meowing could be a sign of something else like neurological problems or vision or hearing loss. If you can’t see anything noticeably wrong and all of your pet’s needs have been met, it is always a good idea to take them to the vet for a second opinion.

5. They’re Lonely

While it may not always seem that way, cats love their owners. While they may not need as much attention as dogs, they still love a cuddle, chat, or some quality time.

If your cat is lonely, you may notice them chatting more often around you. While work, family, or socialization may get in the way, it’s essential to make time for your feline friend too. If you notice that they are still a bit lonesome, consider getting them a companion too. 

6. They’re in Distress

Luckily, cats are very vocal and will let you know if they’re anxious or scared. If you notice that they’re meowing back at you excessively, especially when cats meow at night, it’s time to take a closer look at the situation. 

If you notice your cat lets out loud yowls or howls, and they’re not in danger, it may be time to get your female cat spayed. This is a signal that your cat is in heat and is calling for a suitable mate.

big-cat-meow
Image by Paweł Adamczak janusze_zycia On Unsplash

7. They’re Just Chatty

Just like humans, cats are social creatures and have their own personalities. And, sometimes their personalities can mean that they can be really talkative. 

While each cat’s personality is different, some cat breeds like siamese cats are especially prone to be talkative. They love following their owners around to chat their ears off.

Tabby Siberian cat sitting on the floor and stretching its mouth open.

Final Thoughts: Why Do Cats Meow Back At You?

While cats may not always understand what you’re saying to them, it’s worth making a few meows back at them. It’s the least we can do since they sought a way to communicate with us after being domesticated.

While most times that they chirp and chatter is just to get your attention or affection, other times, it may be a sign of something more serious. But, unless you see any immediate signs of distress, there’s hardly anything to worry about. Sometimes they’re just looking for someone to chat about their day with.

Black and white cat with its mouth open showing its fangs.

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