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The Meanings Behind The Meows catipedia_behavior.png

Understand your cat’s language to better understand your cat.

Did you know that cats meow to people, but not to other cats?

Adult cats, living apart from humans, have very clear communication with one another. Cat language is spoken mostly through scent, then through facial expression, complex body language and touch.

Cat sounds for vocal communication involve caterwauls for mating, chattering upon spotting prey, hissing to ward off an intruder or shrieking when hurt or terrified. Meowing is not part of natural cat language—it was developed almost exclusively for humans.

The only meowing in cat language is done between a mother cat and her kittens. A kitten’s tiny “mew” is a cute, endearing sound, used to solicit attention and care from mom cat. Once the kittens are grown, the mews and meows would stop, if not for communicating with humans.

So why do cats meow to people? Because meowing is what works. Your cat is dependent on you and quickly learns that you are clearly not picking up the scent messages she leaves on your belongings or the body language she is attempting to use.

The meows and mews are what get you to do what she wants. So the meowing develops into a second language to communicate to you.

Some scientists would go so far as to say that cats have refined their meows specifically to manipulate people. And we have to admit—it works!

Cat people know cat language

Dr. Nicholas Nicastro, Ph.D., did his thesis on humans’ ability to understand meows. He recorded hundreds of meows cats used in real settings with their owners. He had people listen to the meows, then asked what they thought the cats were communicating. Part of the experiment asked general interpretations (Does the cat sound angry or pleasant?) and part were more specific translations (Is this cat asking for food or does he want you to go away?).

Not surprisingly, the more experience the people had with cats, the better they were at understanding meows. People who owned cats could correctly translate 40% of the meows. That’s pretty remarkable considering the respondents did not have the benefit of seeing the cat. Normally, when a cat meows, we get more clues to the meaning from the context—including location (by the door, near a dirty litterbox) time of day and body language.

Different meows. Different meanings.

There are dozens of meows that cats can use—they vary in pitch, length and volume. Most cat owners learn the language easily. A short, high-pitched meow is a standard “Hello!” Several of those strung together can communicate excitement—“You’re home! YAY!”

Cats use pleasant meow sounds to solicit you for food, to go outside or to simply get attention. Your cat learns which meow is going to get the results she wants.

Cats use unpleasant, harsher, louder meows for demands, reprimands or to express annoyance. These meows have a lower pitch.

Even though there is a distinct “demand meow,” for example, your cat may have separate variations for each of her regular demands. Generally, the following meows have these meanings:

  • Short meow or mew: Standard greeting. “Hello!”
  • Multiple meows or mews: Excited greeting. “Great to see you!”
  • Mid-pitch meow: Plea for something. “I’d like to eat.”
  • Drawn-out mrrroooow: Demand for something. “Open the door. NOW.”
  • Low-pitch MRRRooooowww: Complaint of a wrong you have done. “Hey—why’s my bowl still empty?”
  • High-pitch RRRROWW!: Anger or pain. “That’s my TAIL you just stepped on!”



Below you'll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our company, our products and caring for your cats. If you have a question that isn't addressed here, please feel free to contact us.

Q: How can I email or talk with the Purina Pet Care team?

A: If you would like to talk with us, please contact us here or call us at 1­-888­-228­-2469.

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Q: How are Purina Cat Chow products different from other healthy pet foods?

A: Inside every bag of Purina Cat Chow you'll find a selective blend of protein, fat, and fiber. Everything we use in our premium cat food formulas has a place in your cat's healthy diet.

Q: How can I be sure of the quality of the Purina Cat Chow products?

A: Our top priority is the quality of the food that nourishes not only your pets, but the pets we share our lives with, too. So from source to bowl, the quality of our food is assured by taking the following steps:

Ingredient Sourcing

  • Purina ingredient sourcing and processing meet or exceed FDA, USDA or AAFCO standards for pet food. And every supplier of ingredients for Purina products must meet our stringent standards for ingredient specifications, product safety, sanitation and manufacturing practices.
  • Ingredient Testing
  • All of Purina's North American manufacturing facilities have on-site quality assurance laboratories and staff. And we're working to expand the use of technology to further screen ingredients for quality assurance.
  • Ingredient Tracking & Control
  • 99% of all Purina pet food products sold in the U.S. are made in Purina-owned U.S. manufacturing facilities and Purina's sophisticated tracking system ensures important measures of control: All raw ingredients are tracked from time of receipt at our plants, through their inclusion in finished products, and on to retail stores.
Q: Where is your food manufactured?

A: 99% of all Purina-branded pet food products sold in the U.S. are made in Purina-owned U.S. manufacturing facilities. Purina's sophisticated tracking system ensures important measures of control: All raw ingredients are tracked from time of receipt at our plants, through their inclusion in finished products, and on to retailers.

Q: I am unable to find a particular product in my area. Can you help me locate it?

A: Yes, we can help. Although distribution of our Purina Cat Chow products is national, not all stores carry all sizes and varieties. Contact our Customer Service department via our Contact Us page or call us at 1­-888­-228­-2469.

Q: Do you offer coupons?

A: We offer coupons in local papers, through direct mailing programs and via emails to registered members. We don't have a regular section on our website itself. We suggest you watch for sales or promotions at your local retailer.

Q: Where can I find articles and information about my cat?

A: We believe there's always more to learn and to share and that discovery should be fun. It's one more way we're helping you and your cat share a better life together. Visit Catipedia for articles and information and... a little bit of fun.

Q: Where can I find articles and information about my cat?

A: We strongly recommend talking to your veterinarian for immediate answers to urgent situations. While is an excellent resource of information provided by cat care experts, your veterinarian can provide the best care for your individual cat.