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May 21, 2012 at 2:10 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Why Some Cats Meow So Quietly

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

Cats may meow when they are hungry, when they want to be let outside, and when they are playing and usually, their meows are fairly loud when they do! But what if your cat barely ever meows or when they do meow, it comes out almost as a whisper?

It could mean nothing OR it could mean something very serious depending on the situation.

Start of Symptoms: Has your cat always been pretty quiet or is this a recent development?

Some cats, just like people, have a quiet personality, and cat breeds just tends to meow more quietly than others. For instance, Persians and Chartreux are known to have extremely soft voices. On the other hand, Siamese and Oriental-type breeds are very vocal. Their meows can be heard from far away and sometimes it seems like they don’t ever stop!

If your cat didn't always used to be so quiet, the sudden development could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Metabolic problems, diabetes, respiratory or dental infections, and polyps can all cause issues vocalizing and should ruled out by a vet.

Frequency: The occasional "silent meow" is common among feline and nothing to worry about and some cats do use this more often than others. However, if your cat has recently stopped vocalizing almost all together, that is reason for concern and a vet should be consulted.

Accompanying Symptoms: If the lack of vocalization is accompanied by bad breath, there's a strong possibility that the trouble vocalizing is related to an infection. Bacteria produced during an infection are known to cause bad odors. Antibiotics may be needed.

Encouraging Vocalization

While some cats will always be a little more quiet than others, you can encourage your cat to vocalize more. Talking to your cat on a regular basis and responding with positive reinforcement when they do vocalize will show them that speaking up can pay off with pets, and treats, and access to things they need human help for. 

There are five major types of cat meows:

1. Murmur Pattern Meows. This sort of meow happens when your cat purrs or trills. Purring normally expresses that your cat is happy or pleased.

2. Vowel Pattern Meows. This is when cats meows sound like a vowel, such as a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y. For example, they may make a “meeeee” sound. Cats can always produce dipthongs: when they slide from one vowel to another. This could sound like an “Meeeeoooow.”

3. Articulated Pattern Meows. These sound like a chirp, almost like that of a bird. Sometimes when a cats use this kind of meow, they may be expressing their frustration about something.

4. Strained Intensity Pattern Meows. These include hisses or growls. Cats normally use these when they are warning you about something. One example I can think of is when my parent’s cat hisses at their dog. He likes to get very close to her sometimes and she does not like that. So with her growl or hiss, she’s warning him not to come any closer.

5. Silent Meows. Sometimes cats may meow so subtly, that they are barely heard. Or, the frequency of their voice is so high, we as humans cannot hear it! Hence the name "silent meow."

The main thing to note is, there's nothing wrong if your cat meows a little quieter than other cats, but if the behavior has occurred suddenly or is accompanied by other symptoms, a health issue should be ruled out.

How does YOUR cat meow?


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