All you pet lovers know that cats and dogs are so intelligent. We have all come to recognize the behaviors and voices that our pets have. Our wonderful 17 year old cat Ricky has a particular set of cat vocalizations and we (my wife Sheryl and I) are quite aware of his various voices and what they mean. We can easily recognize at least 8 different vocal patterns. Check them out below. I’m sure your cat or dog has her own unique way of communicating with you.

cat vocalizations

Ricky in his younger days. He has always been quite vocal

  1. Open the door: Ricky sleeps in our bedroom at night and there are times when our bedroom door is closed and he needs to go to his litter box. Ricky has a voice for this request that is somewhere between a meow and a purr. When we’re sleeping, he does this voice a little quieter as to not disturb us too much. Very polite of him.
  2. I’m hungry: Ricky has 3 meals each day… in the morning, at noon, and at dinnertime. Just prior to these meals Ricky will approach one of us and pronounce himself with a very loud meow or 2.
  3. Pay attention to me: when Ricky wants a little extra attention, he’ll approach with a very quiet series of meows. He also has developed a new behavior over the past year where he will pull your hand with his paw to pet him. So cute! 
  4. Hello: when Ricky just wants to say ‘Hello’, he’ll enter the room with one short shallow meow. He’s really not looking for any special attention, just wants to let us know he’s here.
  5. Wake up: Ricky knows when it’s time to wake up, but instead of using vocals, he simply climbs up on our bed and starts licking our ears. A very simple and effective way to get us up. No need for an alarm clock.
  6. Where have you been?: if we’ve been away for a day or 2, Ricky is sure to greet us at the door with many very loud meows. Sometimes he’s hungry but other times he’s not. He is simply letting us know that he was missing us and was worried.
  7. I just finished eating: as Ricky has aged, he now has developed a new vocal for when he is done eating. We don’t quite understand why he is vocalizing but when he finishes eating, he lets out a number of very loud meow/growls. We’re still trying to figure this out. Our veterinarian says that it might be part of feline cognitive decline that occurs with older cats.
  8. I want treats : Sheryl gives Ricky (and Teddy, his brother) treats every morning. The minute she wakes up, Ricky starts an unrelenting series of meows until he gets his 10-12 treats each morning. Any time I am downstairs when this happens, I know that Sheryl has just woken up. Very handy.

It is really special when the bond between you and your pet develops to the point where you completely understand each other. I’ve heard dog owners tell of many more ways that their loved dogs talk to them. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, know that you too can develop a strong relationship with a cat or dog where you understand each other completely. Check out and support your local animal shelter. Maybe there is a pet in your future!

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