Cat meows to communicate. However, adult cats do usually not meow at other cats, they communicate through scent, body language, facial expression and touch. The meow is a human-directed communication. When someone sneezes, some cats react to it by meowing. What could this mean? Below are the most common reasons why cats meow when someone sneezes:
1. The cat may be startled.
It is very possible that a cat’s sudden meow is due to it being surprised. Often, a sneeze is a loud and unanticipated noise that breaks the silence and may startle felines. Hearing a sudden sneeze may cause anxious or nervous cats not just to meow but also jump or even run away.
2. The cat’s way of saying ‘Bless You’.
It is possible that cats are simply responding to a sneeze the way we usually do to someone who sneezed. Because cats cannot talk, a meow could be their way of saying bless you in their language. Although this could be just us projecting our habits to cats, it could also be a possibility.
3. The cat may be just concerned of you.
It could also be that a cat’s meow after you sneeze is just a check if you are doing fine. Although cats are usually perceived to be uncaring, there is no doubt that they care, especially for their owners. A cat’s meow could mean that it is looking into your well being.
4. The cat may be copying your behavior.
Cats can be smart enough to pick up certain habits. This way of responding to a sneeze could have been mimicked from how our usual response to a sneeze. Normally, we would say “bless you” after somebody sneezes, so it is possible that your cat is copying your response.
5. The cat may be replying back to you.
There are cats who respond when they are being talked to. There are certain breeds who seem to talk a lot like Siamese and Oriental Shorthair. When you sneeze, it is not a surprise if your cat may talk back.
6. The cat may be annoyed.
Cats can also show disapproval of the loud sound of a sneeze. When a cat is annoyed, it will make some low-pitched meows. Along with the sound is its body language, crouching or ducking its head into its shoulders.
7. The cat may be scolding you.
If your cat’s meow is highly-pitched, it could mean that it is angry. Out of being startled by a sneeze, some cats get nervous and would like to communicate to you that it did not feel right. Very angry cats will have a stiff or hunched posture and their hairs and tail may puff up.
Other reactions after sneezing
Aside from a meow, there are many other ways cats react to a sneeze. They may chirp, display agitation, become aggressive and simply have no reaction at all.
As weird as this sounds, there are some cats that make chirply vocalizations and use this as a response to human sneezes. Some cats show that they are agitated after hearing a loud sneeze. They will show flattened “airplane ears” with disgust or change positions into passive-aggressive.
Some cats may interpret a sneeze as a hiss. They can react violently. They will go into attack mode and may bite or scratch.
While some cats react differently to a sneeze, some have no reaction at all. This is normal, just like in humans.
There are many reasons why a cat meows when someone sneezes. It could go from as simple as being startled, being concerned, and to being annoyed, bothered or angered. It could also mean that it is simply mimicking our own reply of ‘bless you’ to a sneeze. Cats, like people, react differently to certain sounds especially if it is loud and silence-breaking. Yet, some have no reaction at all.
Image: istockphoto.com / suemack