At What Age Does a Kitten Start Meowing?

Young kittens will meow to get mom's attention.
i Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

There's no doubt Kitty talks to you; you may even insist he understands exactly what you say to him. Even little kittens will meow for attention or food. Kittens learn this behavior from birth, and since you're the one taking care of him now, he'll apply it to you, too.

Begins at Birth

From the moment Kitty is born, he's capable of plaintive cry for mom. When's he's hungry or lost or simply craves mom's attention, he'll give a high-pitched cry to let her know. Since cat's have superb hearing that favors high-pitched sounds, his mom can hear her little kitten no matter how quiet he seems. She can also differentiate between which cry belongs to which kitten or if it's another queen's kitten altogether.

A Diverse Language

At around 3 months, Kitty will have a pretty extensive vocabulary. He'll develop a cry that means “feed me” and one that means “pet me.” He'll observe how you react to different calls and use what he finds works to get what he wants. Cats can have more than 16 unique vocalizations, with Siamese being known to develop even more. If you have multiple felines, you'll learn to recognize which meow belongs to which kitty and how to respond. When he circles your ankles and gives you a happy chirp, you know it's time to give him some love.

Talking to Humans

In the wild, cats tend to grow out of vocalizations. Meowing is reserved for a kitten calling for his mother, or perhaps when Kitty is in heat. In the home, Kitty has figured out that humans use vocal communication so they adapt to you. He'll meow throughout his life and understands that “speaking” to you is the best way to get your attention. While he has a whole range of body language and scent language, those don't work so well with you; he'll opt for wide variety of meows to let you know what he wants.

Something's Amiss

Pay attention to how often Kitty talks. Some cats, like Siamese, are extremely chatty and will seem to have whole conversations with you. Others are more the silent type, reserving a call only for very special situations, like if he's hurt. A normally quiet feline who suddenly is talking like crazy may not be feeling well. A loud, drawn-out meow -- called a yowl -- is usually indicative that Kitty is upset or in pain. If you hear him doing this when he's eating or using the litter box, these could be signs that these experiences are painful for him. If your kitten is female, she may become extra chatty when she goes into heat, at around 6 months. She'll roam the house rubbing on anything or anyone, and frequently meow or cry loudly. This behavior will continue for three to five days, several times a year, until she gets knocked up or you get her spayed.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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