Do Cats Like It When You Meow Back?

smiling kitty

Picture this: It’s a quiet evening at home. The clock ticks softly in the background, and you’re curled up with a good book. Suddenly, you hear a familiar sound — a soft, questioning meow from your feline companion. Do you ignore it, or do you meow back, joining in this unique form of dialogue? This seemingly trivial decision is actually a gateway into the fascinating and often misunderstood world of cat-human communication.

Cats, known for their enigmatic and independent nature, have a unique way of interacting with their human friends. Unlike their canine counterparts, cats don’t wag their tails or have a wide range of vocal expressions to communicate their feelings and needs. Instead, they rely heavily on a symphony of purrs, hisses, and, most notably, meows to convey their messages. But what happens when we, as humans, try to ‘speak’ their language by meowing back? Does it deepen the bond, confuse them, or are we simply amusing ourselves?

In exploring whether cats appreciate our attempts at meowing back, we’ll take a playful yet insightful journey into understanding the dynamics of talking to our cats. We’ll explore not just the act of meowing back, but also the broader aspects of communication with our feline friends, uncovering the mysteries of their vocalizations and the impact of our responses. So, let’s set aside the mouse (the computer one, of course) and embark on this intriguing exploration of whether our cats really like it when we meow back at them.

Understanding Cat Communication

Cats are enigmatic creatures, often perceived as mysterious and hard to read. Unlike dogs, their communication style is subtle, relying on a combination of vocalizations, body language, and even scent. Meowing, in particular, is a fascinating behavior because cats primarily use it to communicate with humans, not other cats. So, when Mrs. Fluffypants meows at you, it’s a special kind of cat-to-human conversation!

Let’s first explore the nuances of how cats communicate. Their communication is a complex mix of vocalizations, body language, and even scent.


Cats use a variety of vocal sounds to communicate. The most familiar to us is the ‘meow,’ a sound typically used exclusively for communicating with humans. Interestingly, adult cats do not meow at each other, but kittens do meow to get the attention of their mothers. As cats grow, they reserve meowing primarily for their human companions. Other vocalizations include purring, often associated with contentment; hissing and growling as signs of fear or aggression; and chirping, usually used when a cat is focused on prey or something that catches their interest.

Body Language

A cat’s body language is equally informative. Tail movements, ear positions, and even the dilation of their eyes can convey a wide range of emotions and intentions. For instance, a tail held high often indicates confidence, while a tucked tail suggests fear or submission. Ears facing forward show interest, while ears flattened back can indicate fear or aggression.

Scent Communication

Less obvious to humans is how cats use scent for communication. They have scent glands on various parts of their bodies, including their cheeks, paws, and the base of their tail. When they rub against objects, people, or other animals, they are marking them with their scent, establishing territory, and creating a familiar, comforting environment.

Understanding these various modes of communication is crucial in interpreting how a cat feels about its environment and its human companions. When we meow back at our cats, we are engaging in a form of communication that, while it may not be fully understood by them, acknowledges their attempt to interact with us. This interaction, whether it’s a simple meow exchange or a more complex series of vocalizations and body language, forms the foundation of our unique relationships with these fascinating creatures.

Should I Talk Back to My Cat?

The short answer is yes, talking back to your cat can be beneficial. It strengthens the bond between you and your pet, showing them that you’re paying attention. Experts in animal behavior suggest that cats can develop a better understanding of their owners through such interactions. Plus, who doesn’t love a good chat with their cat?

How To Train Your Humans Ad - Sing For Our Supper
Joey on his cat tree

Should I Respond to My Cat Meowing? Seriously? Is that really a question? Of course, you should! It’s the least you can do after I’ve spent all day perfecting my ‘feed me’ serenade. And bring snacks. #HumanTraining101 #MeowMeansMoreSnacks #CatConcerto #MeowForMeals

Joey (“Chunk”)

Do Cats Like When We Talk to Them?

When your cat meows, they could be saying anything from “I’m hungry” to “I love you.” By responding, you acknowledge their attempt at communication. The key is to observe their body language and meow tone to gauge the context. Is it a high-pitched meow? Maybe they’re greeting you. A drawn-out meow could indicate they want something. Responding appropriately can create a meaningful dialogue and deepen your connection.

Cats are not just passive listeners; they’re quite attentive to our voices. Research indicates that cats can recognize their owner’s voice and respond differently to variations in tone and pitch. Speaking in a soft, gentle tone can be calming for them, while a louder voice might signal alarm. So, yes, cats do seem to appreciate when we talk to them, especially in a language they understand – kindness and affection.

How Do You Get Your Cat to Meow Back at You?

If you’re aiming for a meowing back-and-forth, patience is key. Start by mimicking their meow in a playful manner. Positive reinforcement, like treats or petting, when they respond, can encourage this behavior. However, it’s crucial to respect their boundaries and never force interactions. Remember, every cat is an individual, and not all may be chatty.

Factors Influencing Cat-Human Communication

A cat’s breed, age, and personality can greatly influence their communication style. For instance, Siamese cats are known for being vocal. Younger cats might be more inclined to meow than older ones. Observing your cat’s natural communication habits can offer insights into how best to interact with them.

Potential Misunderstandings and Miscommunications

While meowing back at cats can be fun, it’s important to avoid misunderstandings. Cats are sensitive to sound and can get stressed by loud or aggressive tones. Misinterpreting their meows can also lead to confusion. It’s like mispronouncing a word in a foreign language – amusing to us, but potentially baffling for the cat.


To meow or not to meow back at your cat isn’t just a whimsical question; it’s about understanding and participating in the unique language of our feline friends. While we might not always get the accent right, our efforts to communicate show our cats that we care and are willing to speak their language, even if it’s just a simple meow.

Remember, at the heart of it, communication with your cat, whether through meows, words, or affectionate gestures, is about strengthening the bond you share. So, the next time your cat strikes up a conversation, go ahead and meow back. They just might appreciate your attempt at cat-chat!

Do Cats Like it When You Meow Back? Why You Should Meow at Your Cat

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