The ameowzing thing about cat posts is that they’re a carte blanche for me to use as meowny puns as I like. And for that, I’m eternally grateful to our feline overlords who let me know what they desire by meowing at me until I get things right.
Speaking of our overlords, there’s an entire online community dedicated to documenting cats meowing, hissing, yelling, and everything in between, called r/Catswhoyell. The subreddit has 408k meowmbers and has been up and about on Reddit since the summer of 2018. These photos are so evocative, you can practically hear the sounds the cats are making. We’ve collected the best ones to make your day, Dear Pandas, so go on, have a look and remember to pet the cats you liked the most by clicking on those upvote buttons.
Bored Panda was curious to find out more about the world of meowing, so we reached out to our friends at the PDSA, the UK's leading vet charity. PDSA Vet Anna Ewers Clark was kind enough to walk me through all the different ways that cats communicate with each other and with us, the variety of sounds they make, and how kittens instinctively know how to meow and purr. The world of meows is absolutely fascinating!
In the mood for some more gorgeous and funny pics of cats commeownicating with the world? Then you’ll love Bored Panda’s earlier post which you can find right over here.
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Cats communicate with each other in a number of different ways, PDSA Vet Anna revealed to Bored Panda. However, the surprising thing is that for adult cats, meows are "fairly low down their preferred options when 'talking to each other." Anna said: "Unlike many other pets, cats evolved as solitary hunters so their communications skills are less developed than with group-living species, such as dogs."
While kittens will meow to communicate with their mothers, once they become adults, many felines will stop meowing to talk to other cats. "Sometimes, they will hiss or yowl at each other (usually in defense or during a fight) but the primary way of communicating with other cats once they’re grown is through body language."
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The fascinating thing is that adult cats meow to communicate with us, humans! "As we tend to pay our cats attention when they meow, this encourages them to chat to us and many cats learn that certain meows and sounds will get a specific response from their human," vet Anna told Bored Panda. "For example, meowing in our ear in the morning often leads to breakfast; few owners can sleep through a persistent cat shouting! This means that they keep meowing at us while we’re in bed hoping we’ll get the message that it’s time to get up. This can be thought of like an owner-cat ‘language’ with cats using their voices to explain what they need."
Some cat breeds are more talkative than others. For instance, Siamese and other oriental breeds have unique-sounding meows. According to Anna, this might be because we've selected these breeds for their bonds with people. The end result? 'Chattier' cats.
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"Although there will be cat meows that will are unique to each individual (and sometimes specific to each owner), some noises cats make can be common across all cats. Trills and chirrups are usually a cat greeting and will often be accompanied by the ‘tail up’ signal which is a welcoming gesture," Anna, from the PDSA, went into detail about cat behavior. "Hissing, yowling and snarling are most commonly heard as part of an attack or defense when your cat feels threatened. If your cat is making any of these noises, it’s important to try to figure out what’s upsetting them and try to stop or prevent it."
While purring isn't technically a meow, it's a common way for cats to talk to us. "A relaxed, happy purr is an indication that your cat is satisfied with life. This might be when they’re curled up on your lap or stealing the fluffy blankets. However, purring can also indicate pain or severe stress so always look at your cat’s body language and think about whether you’d expect them to be relaxed in their current surroundings." If you'd like to learn more about how your cat is feeling, you can find some great tips right over here.
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Finally, I was very interested to find out whether kittens can learn to meow properly if they're completely isolated from other cats, including their parents and siblings. PDSA Vet Anna confirmed that kittens have the instincts to meow from a very young age. "It encourages their mother to take care of them—similar to a human baby crying. Kittens can also purr almost from birth. So kittens will still meow even if they grow up away from their own kind," she said.
"In fact, if kittens are brought up being cared for entirely by people, this can actually mean they’re more talkative as they have learned that humans respond to them and give them food or attention when they meow. However, if kittens don’t grow up around people, only around other cats, they may stop meowing when they’re older."
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The ‘Cats Who Yell’ subreddit is all about cats making sounds and communicating with the outside world. Or, in the moderators’ words, “All yells are valid and good,” however, “Yawns will be shamed.”
In short, it’s not enough for a cat to have its mouth open to be featured on the subreddit. The photos have to capture the essence of the meows. So much so that you can almost hear them when looking at the pics.
The subreddit also values fairness and wants its members to share original content. Failing that, they’re asked to at least provide a source to credit the original posters and to avoid claiming cute cats as though they were their own when they’re not.
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Furthermore, the ‘Cats Who Yell’ moderators have created a hilariously detailed (and adorable) guide to flairing. In case you didn’t know, flairs are Reddit’s way of helping subreddits categorize their content. Think of them as keyword tags on an online article or sections in your local library.
For instance (and I’ve got to give the mods props for this), the subreddit has two separate flairs for people talking to cats. The first one is the ‘Human Conversationalist’ where a person talks to the cat and the cat meows back. Meanwhile, there’s a separate category for ‘Human Conmeowsationalist’ where the person meows and the cat meows back.
There are other fun flairs such as “Baby Cat mew mew mewmew mewmewmew” (yes, it’s that long). “Aw Lawd They Yellin’,” and who can forget about “Calm down, dear kitty!” for angry cats. There really is enough room for all kinds of meows. As long as they’re not yawns!