Why Do Cats Meow Back At You?

Why Do Cats Meow Back At You

Do you talk to your cat as you would normally do to fellow humans? In many cases, your cat will answer you with sporadic or long meows.

Why do cats meow back at you?

Cats will meow back at you as a way of acknowledging you for talking to them in the first place. They may also meow back to communicate with you and to establish an interaction. This does not mean though that they necessarily understand what you were talking to them about.  But just the same, they will meow back at you to acknowledge you and to communicate as well. 

You may also check out our earlier article on how to communicate with a cat for more details on communicating with your cat. 

What’s in a meow? These are the various kinds of a meows and what it means:

  1. short or quick meow – it means “Hello”  and your cat’s way of greeting you 
  2. multiple or continuous meows-  this is usually done when they greet you at the door, it is their way of saying “I am excited to see you!”
  3. mid-pitch meow – this is usually heard when your cat wants food or attention and more of a plea 
  4. low pitch meow –  this type of meow is your cat’s way of complaining to you about something you did wrong such as forgetting to give her meal on time 
  5. drawn-out meow –  this means that your cat is asking or demanding something and may be their way of saying, “Let me go out now” 
  6. high pitch meow –  your cat usually gives out this type of meow when she is angry or in pain such as when you accidentally stepped on her tail 

Why do cats meow at humans?

Aside from asking for food, trying to get your attention and asking you to let them in or out of the house, cats will meow at humans to let us know that they are stressed. When they are stressed they may become more vocal than usual. You may observe this if you bring her to the vet for her regular visit. 

Cats will also meow to indicate that they are in heat and the meowing may also be accompanied by yowling. If you have a senior cat, the meowing may be a sign of cognitive dysfunction. Most of all, cats will meow to let you know that they are happy and content and they may also be purring softly. 

Does my cat understand me when I talk to her?

Cats do not understand what you are saying although they may be able to comprehend some words and cat experts say that they can understand around 25 to 30 English words (or the language their owners speak). While cats may not understand complicated sentences they may be able to distinguish certain words like “outside”, “dinner”, “food”, “treat” and “no” although this last word may not always be obeyed, just as with kids. However, it may involve training and patience for cats to master the meaning of certain words. 

Felines may also understand their names and they may respond or come near you if their names are called while some may choose not to listen. According to a study done at the University of Tokyo, domestic cats respond strongly to their names compared to other words and that they can understand human verbal utterances. However, cats usually do not know the names of their owners or respond to cues like “mommy” or “daddy” but will respond to the sound of their owner’s voice. This strongly proves that they can distinguish who their humans are based on the person’s voice. 

Surprisingly, cats also understand human emotions and they instinctively know when you are sad, happy or upset. This is because cats and humans have similar genetic, hormonal and neurological makeups and express emotions in similar ways. This may well explain why your cat may be extra affectionate and cuddly when you feel sad or she may be extra playful when you are in a happy and jolly mood. 

What are the major categories of meows among cats?

These are the major categories of cats’ meows:

  • purrs and trills  or murmur patterns 
  • meows in all variations or vowel patterns 
  • chirping and chattering or articulated patterns which usually express frustration 
  • hissing and growling or strained intensity patterns which usually connotes warning 

Do cats meow at each other?

No, adult cats do not usually meow at each other but will communicate more through body language and scent markings. They may rub against each other to transfer their hormones and may also rub against objects and things to mark their territory. Surprisingly, mama cats and their kittens may communicate through meowing and the latter may meow to let their mother know that they are hungry, feeling cold or simply to get her attention. Similarly, mama cats will meow at their kittens to tell them to follow and to get their attention. 


Cats are smart creatures and tend to vocalize like when meowing and purring. Cats may meow back at you to acknowledge you for talking to them and may also do it to communicate and establish interaction. Common kinds of meowing may include short pitch, high pitch and multiple meows. 

Image: istockphoto.com / vladans