Why Doesn’t My Cat Meow?

By Elisa Black-Taylor

Why doesn’t my cat Coral meow? I ask myself that question every night as Coral jumps into my lap for some quality petting time. I’d like to tell her story, and then I hope some of you may have some answers for my non-vocal cat.

Coral collage
Coral collage by Elisa
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Coral has been with us for over two years now. She was rescued from Greenville County Animal Care Services back in 2011 at the same time we rescued a cat named Jane. One of my friends from New York who’s very involved with GCACS asked me if I could take both cats. Jane went on to find her own family, but Coral has decided to stay with us on a permanent basis.

Coral’s paperwork at the shelter listed her as a stray. My daughter and I believe she was a stray, mainly because of her ears. Her ears were full of ear mites. We took her to the vet and got the medicine to treat her. She passed her physical as far as being healthy, other than the infestation of the mites. It took a good month to get all the gunk cleaned out where she’d have pretty ears.

Laura and I often wonder why anyone would turn her into the shelter. She never meows, always uses the litter box and isn’t fussy about her cat food. In other words, Coral is the perfect cat. Except she’s quiet. We’ve heard a hiss or two out of her when one of the other cats try to intrude upon her petting time in Laura’s lap.

Coral was often called our cat with no personality. That was before she let us know how much she enjoys chasing a laser light. It’s the first toy she’s ever played with. And she loves to drink out of a faucet. I’m more likely to see her taking a drink from the tub faucet than from the water bowl.

Coral is also beautiful. Not that beautiful will keep a cat off of death row. You all may remember Coral from the comment I made on Michael’s article here about being able to pick your cat out of an I.D. parade.

I commented on confusing Furby with Coral all the time. From the rear, they look identical to me. Laura says Coral is a slightly lighter color. And if I pet her I can tell the difference. She’s our softest cat. Her name should have been Cashmere.

I wonder whether Coral could have been feral at one time, since feral cats are known for keeping silent. Her ears were certainly dirty enough for her to have lived outside for a long period of time. Perhaps someone who just enjoys trapping cats and turning them in to the shelter caught her. We’ll never know. And Coral refuses to give up secrets about her past.

We’ve only had one other cat who kept silent for a very long time. That was Sealy. We pretty much know he was a feral. He still has feral-like behavior, such as he enjoys prowling for food. It was close to eight months before he ever meowed, and that was when he wanted out of my bedroom and the door was closed. He’ll also jump on top of Laura and meow for his breakfast. For the record, Sealy has the LOUDEST meow of any of our cats. He just doesn’t “talk” very often.

Any ideas on why Coral doesn’t meow? She’s healthy and friendly otherwise. I’ve never had such a quiet cat.


A page on quiet and noisy cat breeds.

72 thoughts on “Why Doesn’t My Cat Meow?”

  1. I think just like people, some cats are quiet and some ‘talk’ a lot.
    Our Walter always has an opinion on everything lol but Jozef is much quieter.

  2. People think I have a great life too Ruth. I go to work at a deserted site and walk around 10 minutes each hour. In between walks I research and write. Then I go home and pet the cats for 2 hours then go to bed. That’s my life every workday. On the weekend I catch up on the sleep I’ve missed during the week and spend more time with the cats.

    I could have had a different life too. I wanted to join the Air Force, but daddy was dead and mama was disabled and you don’t walk away from a parent who needs you. I scored 99% on the Air Force tests given to me in high school. They really wanted me and called me every few weeks after I graduated. If I’d joined I could be retired for life now. Instead, I’ll likely have to work the rest of my life. But I have an easy job so that’s OK.

    • Your comment made me think of how I could have done much more if I had started correctly. I had a messy start to my working life really and even before that. Regrets? Yes. I can’t complain though.

      • People who had a misspent youth are much more interesting than those who always toed the line. Often they are better adults, once they figure out what it is they want to do. There is no shame in “wasting” a bit of one’s youth trying to find the right path or even just to have a bit of fun.

        Oddly, I was a better person when I was young. The older I’ve gotten the more lax and lazy I’ve become and the weaker my self discipline. Now I’m just coasting, but when I was young I really worked hard and demanded much more of myself.

        So which is worse? To screw up when you’re young and it is more tolerated, or to be useless in middle age, when you are supposed to be most productive?

    • Even had you retired from the Air Force, you don’t collect that pension until, I think, age 65, so you’d still be working. My cousin retired from the Navy, but he’s still working at the VA Hospital here.

      It’s very hard to play the what if game, Elisa. Who knows where you would have been deployed or what might have happened? Things work out how they are supposed to, I think.

      • You got that right. I was just going by what one of my high school friends said about retiring 20 years after joining the Air Force and how he doesn’t have to work anymore.

        My what-ifs are played with my first love, who committed suicide in 1998. He’d been begging me to be with him since we were in college and I turned my back on him. That’s really the only thing that haunts me to this day. Biggest what if game ever. He never realized how many people loved him and now he’s gone.

        • He was a fool to give up. You never know what will happen down the road. Jeff wasn’t interested in a relationship, so I went out with Danny, then we got married. Then after Danny died, Jeff had his chance. Jeff was really bummed out when I got married the first time, but he didn’t let on. But he didn’t let me slip away again.

          I sometimes play the what if games, what if Danny hadn’t been killed? But would I ever have lived in West Allis? Probably not. More likely Brookfield or Menomonee Falls, the area he was from. So I wouldn’t have found Monty. Change one thing and a lot of things change. If your first love had lived and eventually you had married, you might still be happily married– but would you have found Furby? He was sent to you to comfort you after your ex husband passed on. Would you still get Furby if you had that first love? Probably not. We can’t have everything we want, but we get everything we need somehow.

          • Getting back to the original subject here, I don’t think Coral needs to meow because her eyes say it all. In every photo her eyes are different. They are very expressive.

            • She’s the sweetest cat. She sits on the floor until you invite her into your lap. She loves being petted. But I do get her and Furby mixed up all the time. Especially when looking at the rear instead of the head.

    • I remembered this later. I think Michael even posted one of those “meow choirs” on PoC once. So it’s already been done. I would like to see real meows added to the music. I think even the composing software I have would permit it. You could alter the meow sounds, but I think leaving them as they are would be best. It’s a very modern idea to use everyday sounds and put them together as music. It’s certainly been done. But has anyone done meows? Someone should. But it’s a big step from writing a few hymns to putting together something like that. I doubt I could pull it off. But I can imagine how cool it would be if someone did it. Maybe they already have and we just have to keep searching for it on the Internet.

      • Tom cats sing in the night lol they really hit the high notes!
        A neighbour had 2 little dogs who when everyone went out and left them, sang a whole tragic opera, honestly they really hit the high notes of their sorrow at being left alone.
        Since one died they have taken in another little dog but there has been no operas since the old one went.

        • Doggie operas. So cute. At least you can hear the music in these animal voices, Ruth, instead of just dismissing their songs as so much noise.

          • The other side of us now we have the rottweiler with a huge deep voice which erupts from his very depths and two little jack russells who are high pitched, so we call their trio The Sonic Boom and the Yappers….you can find music in all of Nature’s creatures if you look hard enough
            Will they ever make the charts? I think not lol

            • Also the birds singing their dawn chorus drown out all the singing tom cats and all the dogs around, the bluet*ts especially go half crazed with the happiness of a new day.

              • The Yappers and the Sonic Boom. That could be a name for a new rock group, but I don’t think it would take off. Or perhaps “Sonic Boom and da Yappers” as a name for a rap group. Probably still wouldn’t catch on.

  3. She can hiss loud enough. Ask Mandy. Ruth, did you forget to take your medication or did you take a double dose of your medication πŸ™‚ Either way, you need to share.

    • I won’t really write a meow song. Just was an idea that sounded cool, but I’ll leave it for someone with ability to give it a shot (or not). I do think being able to hear all these meows we are merely describing IS a valid idea, however, and was really my point.

      I’m trying to stop writing anymore music because I’m like my grandma with her chairs at this point. Years ago, my grandma was bored, having outlived most of her friends and having more physical energy and stamina than even people half her age, she started buying and refurbishing furniture and then giving it to people when it wouldn’t all fit in her house. After my mom received her fourth chair from Grandma she said, “She needs to stop.” So it is with my musical output which just keeps coming, but like Grandma’s chairs, mostly sucks. They weren’t all worth refurbishing and since she always worked very fast, many weren’t exactly high quality restorations.

      After Carl Schalk tore one of my pieces apart at a conference for Lutheran church workers he said, “That’s ok, you’ll get better. You should have seen some of the things I wrote at first.” Except that was nearly two decades ago and it’s just not happening for me the way he said it would, and I have the pile of rejection letters from publishers to prove it. Like Grandma with her chairs it’s time to just stop. Just because something could be done doesn’t mean it should be done.

      • Ruth – this comment is alot of things, love it, you have a particular sense of humour and you are a very good writer I think. I am suprised you don’t write for a living.

          • Thanks, Michael. It’s easy to write when you write about what you know!
            I’ve been thinking I should team up with someone who is a good composer and supply the lyrics for him. I actually have a couple of people in mind. I can write rhyming words to fit any meter or melody– I am getting better at that. It’s the harmony that I can’t write. I’m not a good pianist so I have trouble writing for piano. I write piano accompaniments like an organist who can’t play piano. I keep thinking that maybe there will be a market for that, since as an organist I struggle with choir anthem accompaniments. But the publishing companies don’t agree and they don’t want my organ stuff either, so I think it’s time to just hang it up. Or if I write just not share it with anyone until I somehow manage to prove Carl Schalk right, but by then I might be eighty. Even “Simon’s Song” and the other one about Herman the Police Dog which are posted on PoC are not good. I have friends who can write music, who really can write. They might not have even wanted to attempt those lyrics (when you get away from religious texts lyrics get 100 times harder) but they would have written a lot better music. I always struggled in music theory and composition classes. I was constantly asking for copies of other people’s little theory and composition exercises asking if they’d mind if I put some words to their tunes/harmonies. There’s a song my choir does around All Saint’s and it’s hauntingly beautiful, but only the words are mine. The tune and various harmonies/settings of that tune were this guy Craig’s homework.

        • Marc, that’s what Elisa keeps saying! But writing for a living is a grind and a lot of work. I lack the self discipline to do it. I started a book about Monty, but like all the embroidery projects I started as a kid, it just sits there. Except unlike those pillowcases, my mom’s not going to come along and finish my book for me. So it will never get done.
          I only got good at playing the organ because the pay from that meant I could afford to eat every day. It’s a good thing I’m not independently wealthy or I’d be totally useless. If I don’t have that motivation of needing to eat (today it’s pay the mortgage) I just sit on my butt and play on the computer or watch the boob tube, play in the yard with Monty, or go hiking/swimming/skiing or skating. That song, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is so me.

          • I think that sounds perfect – I’d love to have time to hang with my cats all day and they’d love it too. They made a remix of that song called ‘girls just wanna have lunch’ – so maybe that fits in better since you do have to eat as you say πŸ™‚

            Nothing wrong with unfinished projects – I have about 20 incomplete bikes to be restored but it’s not about the result it’s about the process in my opinion so it’s good to have things open/unfinished, plus knowing when its finished is the hardest part anyway πŸ™‚

              • Depends on your definition of fun. Going to parties? Not so much fun to me. Hiking, swimming, skating, skiing etc.. now those are fun and I will do them and neglect responsibilities pretty consistently. In my Boo-U days I practically majored in goofing off at Devil’s Lake. UWC-Baraboo’s FB page recently showed a picture of a geology class who hiked up there to look at rocks. Too bad they didn’t offer that class when I was there. I could have hiked the bluff for actual college credit!
                No, I’m a slacker big time. People always say I have such a great life, that I have so much fun. Well, yeah, but I had the potential to actually he somebody and I let it all go down the drain while I sat on top of a rock somewhere and looked at nature.

              • Oh Ruth you ARE somebody! The very special lady who God wants you to be!
                You do need fun in your life.
                I don’t enjoy parties either but if we lived near enough to the sea I’m sure I’d be there gazing at the horizon early every morning and dreaming instead of working, I just LOVE the sea.

              • I have never really seen the ocean, but Lake Michigan is beautiful. I can sit for hours just listening to the waves crash and recede.

          • You don’t need to write a book Ruth. You need to write articles on a regular basis about something you either love or have a great interest in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about cats. I only have to publish once every two months on Examiner to stay on their writer’s list. I just write a lot more than that because I find interesting things to write about. You could be famous with your articles but you spend all of your time commenting. You’re wasting you talent when you don’t balance both.

            • An article is a lot more effort than comments. People just don’t believe when I say I’m very lazy. If you saw the state of my house, you’d get it.

            • Ruth might be a good story teller (fiction) but that is difficult. I do agree with her that it is completely different writing comments to articles. The latter has to formulated and thought through and be coherent and have a point whereas a comment is reactive and off-the-cuff.

              • Articles need to be researched. Though there are a few things that I could just write down knowing all I need to know about the subject already, even if I did that, I’d still need to site studies and sources to back up what I’m saying. Blech. It sounds like doing a research paper and I always hated those. I will never get a Master’s or Doctorate because both degrees consist basically of writing a huge paper, which is then peer reviewed.

                I wouldn’t mind being a humor writer like Dave Barry, but he’s kind of got that market cornered I think. I wonder how he even got started?

          • Sad for you that you’ve never seen the ocean Ruth, standing in the edge of it with the waves rippling around your ankles, looking to the horizon, puts everything into perspective.
            You’d love it!
            We have the North Sea about 3/4 of an hour’s drive away, the sea is always bitterly cold even in the Summer when the sun is shining and it’s warm enough to picnic on the beach,but I love it and we always try to go there to celebrate my July birthday.

            • Lake Michigan is sort of like the ocean. You can’t see the other side, it can get really wild with huge waves just like the ocean and I guess it even has tides, but in a small way and they aren’t as noticeable as the ocean.

              • There are some pet friendly beaches around and I sure wish I could bring Monty. But what if someone had their dog there? He hates dogs. He hates riding in the car. But he’s so fascinated with water. I think he’d like the way the waves come up into the beach and recede again. But he’s just not a cat who likes to travel. I can’t explain that he’d like it once he got there. I’d love to put in some kind of water feature in our back yard. He would find it interesting. He’s been pushing rubber ducks into the bathtub again and enjoying the splash.

                I think I might get a plastic kiddie pool (make that kitty pool) this summer and put an inch or two of water in it. Then I’ll use a fishing lure (hooks removed) in the water as a toy for him to chase. The cool water would feel good on a hot day. I could put a little step in the pool so he could sit on that and go into the water as much or as little as he wanted. It would be shallow so be wouldn’t get drenched, but a little cold water on the paws would help him cool down a bit, I would think.

              • Can you paddle in the lake Ruth?
                We once had a kiddies paddling pool in our garden for Bryan who loved water and we put a toy fish in lol he loved playing in that.
                Part of the beach we go to is banned to dogs, they are only allowed to go to a certain point, I wonder what would be said if a cat went in that part? lol after all it doesn’t say ‘no cats beyond this point’
                I think taking cats on a journey would upset them too much for them to enjoy being there, they like the familiar don’t they.

              • It depends on the cat, Ruth. I had one as a child who went lots of places with us. But I have to remind myself that she was unusual. I can’t expect Monty to be like her. She came to the beach with us, but had no interest in the water, only in hunting in the wooded area there. There is a park here that has no dogs posted, but doesn’t say anything about cats. If Monty were more of a traveler I’d take him to see the ducks.
                I swam in Lake Michigan a lot last year. This year it is as cold as your North Sea and will probably stay that way.
                So Bryan had what I’m thinking of for Monty– a paddling pool with toys. I think Monty will enjoy it. If I can’t take him to experience new things I can bring novel experiences to him.


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