Why can’t my cat meow?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Why can’t my cat meow? He is able to make a squeak sort of like a newborn kitten.


Siouxsie: Well, Josh, every cat has a different kind of voice. I myself have a lovely, full-bodied meow. Sometimes I make little trills and grumbles, too, but my voice is rather low-pitched (in tone, not volume) compared to other cats I know.

Thomas: My meow is more like a medium-pitched “MEEK-erk,” and my other vocal communications are pretty much a variation on that theme.

Dahlia: And my meow is a sweet, high-pitched “meep.” It’s quite delicate and feminine if I do say so myself. My trills and chirps tend to be soft and high-pitched too.

Siouxsie: Certain breeds of cats tend more toward certain qualities of voice. Siamese and other Oriental breed cats (and those of us mixed-breeds with a good dose of Oriental ancestry) are more likely to have a loud and low-pitched voice. Persians and cats descended from those types of breeds tend to have soft and chirpy voices.

Thomas: If you visit the Cat Fanciers Association website and look at the profiles for various breeds of cats, you’ll find that some have information about the voice of that breed if it’s different from the standard meow of a “typical” cat.

Dahlia: Your cat’s voice was also affected by his mother. If his mother had a quiet voice, he would have developed a quiet or squeaky voice too, because that’s what he learned at his mother’s side.

Siouxsie: Frankly, when we cats use vocal communication, it’s mainly for the benefit of humans and other less-evolved creatures. When we communicate with one another, we mostly use body language and other very subtle gestures.

Thomas: The only time we vocalize with other cats is when we’re emotionally stimulated — if we’re very angry and we’re about to have a fight, for example, or if we’re playing together and we’re really into our toy or our playmate accidentally hurts us. If we’re really excited about catching a mouse or we’ve got some particularly yummy food, we might growl and purr as we eat it.

Dahlia: So, Josh, cats normally have a wide range of voices. However, if your cat’s meow has changed recently, we’d suggest you contact your vet and have your kitty checked out. If his voice was more normal and now it isn’t, he may have swallowed something he shouldn’t have, or he may have some sort of irritation or growth on his vocal cords.

Siouxsie: Our great-grammie kitty, Iris, was always a quiet cat with a small meow, even after she’d had a few litters of kittens. Mama says she didn’t even cry a lot when she was in heat! She didn’t really start howling until she got quite old and lost her hearing.

Thomas: Sometimes cats can overuse their voices, either through a long round of cussing and trading insults with other cats (screaming and hissing) or through singing arias at the top of their lungs (more typical for Oriental type cats or unspayed females in heat). This can result in a temporarily hoarse or scratchy voice. Mama says this happens to humans when they do a lot of shouting, too.

Dahlia: So there you have a number of possible reasons why your cat squeaks rather than meows. We hope you find this helpful and that you enjoy many happy years with your squeaky kitty.

  • darlene

    Ihave an 8 yr. old female cat who recently lost her sister to liver cancer.We decided to get a new kitten which my 8 yr. old cat Louise never took to at all and all they did was fight. We returned the kitten and Louise seems to be coming out of her under-the-bed shelter. Today her meow is extremely squeaky and I do mean squeaky..I’m scared to death as she is a real talker and this weak, pathitic, meow is abnormal for her….she and the kitten did have many hissing and growling moments..any suggestions…thankx, dar:) p.s. the kitten been gone for 3 days…

  • selina

    heres the deal.my 4mth old kitten does not meow,at all.i thught she was mute. well.one day i was taking her to the vet for shts,i put her in the carrier,put her in the car,drove off, and she meowed very loud the entire trip there.need i say more.by the way,she still doesnt meow,i think shes very happy and just dont want to.

  • Mairi & lewis

    We got a black kitten in June, it is now January and our cat can still only squeek. We got him when he was almost six weeks old. We got another kitten in august and her meow has developed fine. What is wrong with my cat?

  • Felix

    Our two black and white cats are nearly a year old and all they do is “chirrup” like Mogwai from Gremlins…and purr a lot. It’s very cute.

  • kris

    my cat has lost his meow. what happened?

  • http://www.JuliesJewels77.etsy.com Julie Roberts

    My older cat meows all the time now. I would almost take a more quiet cat sometimes, but I just appreciate her for what she is, a talkin’ tortie.

  • Kaisha Hall

    I got my cat in Jan, when she was 3 months. My husband and I thought she was mute cause she wouldn’t meow. When we got her she was spayed already, which concerned me that they didn’t do the surgery the right way, or maybe she was too young. Even to this day, she still can’t meow. She opens her mouth but nothing comes out. But my other two cats understand her very well. It doesn’t stop her, OR them. She makes up for it with alot of LOUD purring. She is the sweetest little thing I have never seen, and does the cutest things. Still I can’t help but wonder where her voice went!!!

  • Mary P

    i have three beautiful tabbies and each has their own moew my 6yr has a eww eww meow 4yr has a mooom meow and my 1 yr has meu meow…. well my 4yr old was meowing just fine til yesterday morning it became crackled i am really wondering wat i can do to help him anything i can give him n not have to spend a arm n a leg on cuz he loves to meow on a daily for attention when he and others know its time for their daily needs!

  • Alexx

    ever since my cat was a kitten he hasnt meowed he trys but nothing comes out should i be worried?

  • kali

    i have 2 tabby 9 month old twins one male, one female, both have almost inaudible meows, the are very large for 9 month old kittens…. trying there hardest for world recard longest kitties but the only time they get loud is when we go to the vet in the car…. will there voices ever match there bodies… will they ever have a tigers roar?

  • http://none Bonny

    I yone know?just got a rescue kitty found in a barn with frostbite. She lost the tips of her ears and the tip of her tail. She is only 5 months old and never lets out a peep. Will she? An

  • http://goggle Donna Thomas

    my kitten is 4 month old and when she meow it is a air sound and she can’t purr at all her sister purrs and meow a lot does anyone know why please email me thomasdonna96@yahoo.com