Why is mephedrone called ‘Meow Meow’?

Summary: Mephedrone has the street name ‘Meow Meow’ because on November 1, 2009 a Wikipedia author added the name “Meow” to the entry for mephedrone at the top of the list of alternative street names for the drug (I explain why below). The tabloid journalists picked up on the Wikipedia entry and the name took off from there.

Meow Meow drug
Meow Meow drug. Image: MikeB.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The origin of Meow Meow for mephedrone in detail

Why did a Wikipedia author first coin the word ‘Meow’? The drug is also known as: 4-methylmethcathinone, 4-MMC, and 4-methylephedrone. In the first scientific name there are two m’s followed by the word ‘cat’ embedded into the name. Also, the dug is the active ingredient of the Khat plant, cathinone. There are a lot of references to cats in these names!

This led somebody at a website called Champagne Legals (a so-called “headshop”) to call the drug “Miaow”. This is another spelling of the word ‘meow’. By the way, a “headshop” is a “shop specialising in articles which interest drug users”. I presume that means an online shop. The miaow reference seems to have prompted the Wikipedia author to add Meow as the street name.

At that stage there was the emergence of the connection between this drug and the primary sound that a domestic cat makes. That name did not catch on and at the time the drug was referred to as “Meph” or “Drone”.

Then about three weeks later a young teenage girl died after taking mephedrone. She died of bronchopneumonia following a bacterial infection and The Sun newspaper, whose journalists are very good at making up headlines, coined the name “Meow Meow” in their headline about the arrival of a new party drug favourite.

I guess the journalist added the extra “meow” because cats normally make this sound more than once when they meow. The phrase caught on from that point onwards when for instance The Sunday Times reported on the “rise of Meow”. The Times referred to “Meow Meow Arrests”. And The Telegraph newspaper looked at the “Meow Meow Menace in Europe”.

A drug expert confirmed that no one took the word “Meow” as a name for the drug seriously until the Wikipedia entry appeared. At the time the Wikipedia entry was added the drug was commonly referred to as “Mugabe” or “The Chinese”.

I wonder whether the fact that the entry was placed at the top of the street name list is why it was picked up and also for the fact that, as mentioned, the word “cat” is embedded within the scientific chemical name.

There is another point worth making. The Mirror newspaper in 2015 has a headline: “Symptoms of mephedrone use: Extreme weight loss, sudden crying and ‘a smell of cat wee’!” More connections to cats.

My thanks to the website Mind Hacks for explaining the origin of the street name for this drug to which I added some research and thoughts of my own.

Postscript: anybody can become a Wikipedia author which is why the entries are often amended and re-amended and which is why, sometimes, false information appears on Wikipedia. However, I would rank the website as an excellent source of information although in the early days it was perhaps less reliable. It is said that Russia is using Wikipedia to push their agenda. You can see how that might come about because it is relatively easy to amend Wikipedia articles. I am sure there are safeguards, however.

SOME MORE ON DRUGS (drugs for cats!):

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