Each cat learns to meow at different stages in their lives dependent on the circumstance and the individual cat but around 4-6 months might be the first time. When did your cat first meow?

First meow

My cat Gabriel has just uttered his first real meow. He is 4 months old. He has become more vocal. Until now he’d squeak and trill but no meow. I wasn’t concerned but interested. It made me think, when do cats start to meow? Do cats learn to meow? I ask the latter question because the experts say that cats don’t usually meow to each other. They only meow to us as a request.

If that is correct then it encourages me to believe that once a kitten has found his feet and gains confidence he’ll start to make requests of his human caretaker and start to communicate with her in response to calls, communications and other interactions. If this is a correct assessment, it would seem that around 4-6 months of age would be the time a young cat first delivers a real meow.

However, I am generalising. I have just seen a small kitten of about 10-weeks-of-age meowing in complaint because he was being given a bath. Perhaps in this instance the shock of that experience forced a meow from the lips of the little kitten.

This is obviously about individual cats and circumstances. They all play a role. Having lived in close proximity with my cat since I fostered and adopted him, about 3.5 months ago, I have been able to observe him closely.

My feeling is that he’s had to learn to meow. It is as if his vocal cords and brain were developing. His experiences developed his brain. His vocal cords and voice box are developing as he grows up. There comes a moment when these developments when added to confidence leads to the first meow.

Turning the clock back to the first month he was with me, he barely uttered a single sound. Pure silence. He’d open his mouth occasionally but no sound was delivered.

Some cats are almost always mute to semi-mute highlighting the individuality of this trait. British Shorthairs are a good example of semi-mute cats. Once again I am generalising. Many British SHs will be meowers. The ones that I have met have been silent. Their mouth open delivering the ‘silent meow’.

The Siamese is the opposite. This indicates that the frequency and quality of the meow is a characteristic which can be linked to cat breeds and therefore breeding.

Can you encourage a cat to meow for the first time by talking to him more? I don’t believe it is necessarily about talking to a young cat to make him meow. It is more about interacting with your cat. It is about stimulating his brain so that he feels inclined to vocalise. Exciting play will achieve that. Or providing him with his favorite food.

I’d suggest that the more a person interacts with his young cat, particularly in stimulating play, the more likely his cat will develop the urge and the anatomy to utter that first, exciting meow.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a 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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