Categories: meow

What is the Siamese word for cat?

Curious web surfers are interested to know the Siamese word for cat. Well, the Siamese language is today the Thai language. The English spelling of the Siamese word for cat is: Mæw. This looks very like ‘meow’ or ‘miaow’, the classic domestic cat sound used by our beloved cat companions to demand something from us, usually food.

A nice link therefore is thrown up. My interpretation of this discovery is that the Thai language has evolved the word for ‘cat’ from the sound the cat makes.

Showing Google Translate’s translation of the Thai word for ‘cat’.

I want, attention, please.

Embedded Media Player

Below is an embedded audio file of the spoken word: แมว – the written Thai version of their word for ‘cat’. Sorry that it is rather weak and the player is too large!


The Miaow Sound

Fairly recent research tells us that the meow sound is a demand from your cat to you. It is said that the domestic only miaows when the sound is directed at his human companion. Therefore in theory feral cats should not meow!

Desmond Morris says that the meow sends the same message every time which is, “I require your immediate attention”. It starts off in kittens who wish to let their mother know that they need help of some kind or other.

In wild cat species, this sound more or less disappears when they become adults. In domestic cats, as we know it persists throughout their life. They use the sound whenever they act like “pseudo-kittens” towards the human companion.

They find that it is successful and they build on it, developing it into a variety of different meow sounds. Morris says that they modify it to suit each occasion.

There are begging meows and demanding meows. In addition there are complaining and anxious meows. Some meows are soft and flat while others are pitiful and drawnout (when your cat wants to be let in when it starts to rain).

You may hear an element of irritation to your cat’s meow when an expected routine has been omitted or disregarded. Humans learn the meaning of these variants of the classic meow. They may even meow back, setting up a nice dialogue with their cat companion.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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