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Why Do Cats Meow Back at You? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

If you have a cat, you might have noticed that they sometimes meow back at you when you talk. Some cats will even meow back at you when you sneeze or make any noise. The anecdotal explanation for this behavior is that your cat is talking back to you. But what’s the real reason that cats sometimes insist on answering us with a meow?

In this article, we’ll look at a few different reasons why your cat may decide to meow back at you – some of them are not reasons you’d probably think of.

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Reasons Cats Meow Back at You

1. They’re Just Chatty

Some cats are chattier than others. Some cats hardly don’t meow at all, while others meow all the time. These chatty cats are likely going to meow back at you no matter what you do. If you talk to them, they’ll probably meow back. If you don’t, they’ll probably meow back. These cats often meow to meow, so often they’ll happen to meow back after you’ve talked.

There is little purpose behind these cats’ meows – besides the fact that they like to meow.

Cats may go through different periods of chattiness throughout their lives. They may be particularly chatty as kittens and then get quieter as they get older. Sometimes, the opposite thing happens, as the cats gain the confidence that comes with age.

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Image Credit: David Sutterlütti, Flickr
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2. They’re Trying to Communicate

Adult cats don’t meow much to each other. Kittens meow to their mothers and then gradually grow out of meowing as they get older. Instead, cats often communicate through body language, though hissing is used when the situation calls for it.

Meowing seems to be significantly saved for humans. No one knows why cats meow at humans when that isn’t their usual way of communicating. It could be that the cats know we talk to communicate and are trying to communicate back in a similar manner. It could have been that people preferred cats that meowed, so the trait of meowing got bred in as the cats evolved next to humans.

Either way, meowing seems to be a method of communication for humans in particular. Therefore, it is likely that many cats meow back in an attempt to communicate – even if they don’t know exactly what you’re trying to say.

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3. They’re Looking for Attention

Meowing is an obvious way for cats to get their people’s attention. It’s loud without being entirely abrasive (in most cases, at least). When you’re talking or fake meowing, a cat may meow back to get your attention.

This may or may not be an innate behavior. While most cats seem to know from the day they’re born that meowing gets attention (though usually from their mothers at first), it is equally likely that the cat learned that meowing led to your attention. After all, if you pay attention to your cat every time they meow, it only makes sense that they’d make the connection at some point.

Therefore, your cat may meow back so that you’ll pay attention to them. If they only seem to meow back when they want something, this is even more likely.

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Image Credit: andreeastate14, Pixabay
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4. They’re in Pain

Any change of behavior could be an indication that your cat is sick and in pain. Cats are very good at hiding their illnesses. In the wild, they wouldn’t want to be seen as weak and attacked, so they have evolved to hide their pain very well.

Usually, a change of behavior can indicate that they’re not feeling well. This can include a change in vocalization. If your cat suddenly starts meowing back and becomes rather chatty, then it could be a sign that something is wrong. Other behaviors can indicate that your feline isn’t feeling very good as well. For instance, cats may urinate outside the litterbox or stop grooming themselves properly. Inappropriate urination is the number one sign of a UTI or bladder infection.

Cats will often try to hide more when they’re in pain. They likely won’t play as much or be as active. If you notice any behavior changes, it is likely time to get your cat to the vet for a check-up.

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5. They’re Excited

Cats tend to get rather chatty when they’re excited. Usually, this is a series of short meows. Sometimes, this is also an indication that your feline wants something, as they may be looking forward to playtime or a treat. Either way, excited cats are likely to engage in meow exchanges since they really can’t control their excitement!

These cats aren’t necessarily trying to communicate anything. They’re just excited.

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How to Make Your Cat Meow Less

Some cats are boisterous. Meowing itself isn’t often a behavioral issue. However, it can get a bit out of hand in some cases.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to make your feline meow less – if that’s something you feel like you need to do.

Still, you’re never going to stop your cat from meowing completely.  It’s how they communicate with people, so your cat is likely never going to stop meowing altogether – nor should you want them to. However, if your cat is meowing nearly constantly, here are some things you should consider.

1. Ensure Their Needs are Met

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Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

If your cat is meowing at you every time you talk (and every time you don’t talk), they may need something. Cats meow as a way to communicate with humans. Often, when they’re meowing a lot, they’re trying to communicate. Usually, this communication is something they need, such as food. If your cat is meowing at you a lot, check to make sure they have everything they need.

Sometimes, cats will meow for something that isn’t always obvious. They might need a door opened, or there might be something sitting on their sleeping spot. You may not notice these things right off the bat, so it can seem a lot like your cat is just meowing for no reason. However, once you start paying attention, you might realize that your cat does need something.

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2. Get Your Cat Spayed

If your cat is female, you should consider getting her spayed. Female cats that are in heat tend to “yowl,” which is a loud meow. There isn’t anything you can do about this excessive meowing besides fixing your feline. It’s instinctual and not something you can train out or anything like that.

A cat that isn’t spayed will go into heat every 18 to 24 days through its breeding season. This breeding season is usually months long. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is usually between February through September. That’s a lot of meowing!

This whole time, your cat is trying to attract a male. They may also attempt to get outside more often and become extremely affectionate.

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3. Take Your Cat to the Vet

Sometimes, excessive meowing may be a sign that something is wrong. Usually, cats will try to hide their sickness or pain.

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Image Credit: Andrey_Kuzmin, Shutterstock

However, you can sometimes tell they are sick due to a behavior change. Most cats will get quieter and hide more when sick, but some may meow excessively as a sign of pain.

If your cat suddenly starts meowing more, you may want to visit a vet. Sensory deficits and cognitive dysfunction are particularly prone to cause excessive meowing and are most common in senior cats. If your cat is older, a vet visit is absolutely in order.

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Conclusion

Many cats meow back at their people when they meow or talk. Cats reserve meows for communicating with people, so it only makes sense that they’d meow when you communicate to them. Usually, this behavior is not much of a problem. However, some cats meow excessively.

A sudden increase in meowing can be a sign of an illness. Cats usually don’t meow more when they are sick since their main goal is to hide and draw little attention to themselves. However, some cats do get chattier when they’re in pain, and some particular diseases may cause cats to meow more than usual.

Otherwise, excessive meowing maybe your cat’s personality, which is difficult to change. Females and males may meow more during mating season, though females are particularly prone to this problem.

There are several reasons why your cat may be meowing at you. Usually, these have to do with communication. Your cat is trying to tell you something or is entirely happy that you’re there.

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Featured Image: Skitterphoto, Pixabay