“Speak” is a command common to dog owners. (For some strange reason. Personally, we’d rather Juniper never figured out how to bark. It isn’t a common greyhound attribute) Cats, on the other hand, can fall anywhere on the vocal spectrum. Some felines rarely make a peep. Others (Siamese, typically) need to weigh in on EVERYTHING. And you won’t know when you see them as a kitten which you’ll end up with. It took a couple of weeks before I heard that first chirp from Squeak. As a baby, Tonks was a regular SCREAMER, but she’s mellowed out. And then there’s Ekko. Who knew those cute little squeaker noises he made as a baby would turn into constant critiques?
The popular convention is that cats only meow at human beings. The sounds are, for various reasons, centered around attracting our attention:
- Time to eat (whether or not the food bowl is empty)
- To say hello
- Because there’s a closed door (Note: the fact you WANT the door closed is immaterial)
- To inform you it’s time for socialization
Of course, there are other reasons you may hear yowls, meows, or cat calls throughout your house. If you have an older cat, changes in their memory and sense of perception can come into play. As their behavior changes, their vocality will, too. This happened with Firefly, especially when he received his appetite stimulant.
Or you could have a feline with intact reproductive organs. (Never a good idea) Every time they go into heat, you’re going to be treated to a rousing chorus of, “Let’s get busy!” which will go on for DAYS. (And if that isn’t a reason for spaying/neutering, you haven’t heard it)
And then there are medical reasons for a vocal announcement. Cats experience pain, the same as humans. And a meow can be an alert that something is wrong. Or, as we have around our house, it’s a split-second notice that a hairball is about to be delivered to the carpet.
Now, I know that cats WILL also meow to gain one another’s attention. It happens around here all the time. One will call to figure out where everyone else is. And I know they’re not looking for us because they do it in the same room – if not on the same piece of furniture – as us. (So take THAT science)
But every cat IS different, and you can go an entire lifetime without hearing too many peeps or squeaks. And count that as NORMAL.
Life With a Big Squeaker
Our household is NOT quiet.
Not in the traditional sense, at any rate. Squeak occasionally makes his presence known with loud announcements as he wakes up. Those sad squeakers we’re never sure about. Bad dreams? A reset of his memory? (For instance, is he trying to remember where he is?) Or simply his wake-up routine? They have a distinct sound, and all they represent is a need for us to call his name or come over.
Then there’s Ekko.
Without a doubt, that boy is the most vocal cat I’ve ever owned. (Which goes double for my husband since he’s new to feline ownership)
I thought his baby peeps might deepen as he grew. And grew. And GREW. (He weighs over 14 pounds now!) But they’ve stayed the same pitch as a toy squeaker. All he’s done is increase the frequency he “chats” with us.
And boy, does he talk!
EVERYTHING requires an opinion. He’ll initiate a conversation and “converse” back and forth with us. (Doesn’t matter if we talk or mimic the sounds back to him) It’s easily the most adorable thing in the world. Both the fact that we’re chatting with a cat, and that those squeaker sounds emanate from a big old tom cat.
(Luckily, his chirps have a distinct pitch that’s different from Squeak’s, so they’re easy to tell apart)
It’s a Squeaker Life For Me
Who knows where Ekko picked up his knack for talking? Was it because of his foster family? (Being around a bunch of other kittens could have created a competitive environment) Or is it Juniper’s influence?
Ekko LOVES his greyhound sister. We’re talking L-O-V-E here. He follows her around, plops down for snuggles wherever she decides to lounge, and watches every time she goes outside. So it wouldn’t surprise us a bit to find he picked up her “barking” habits. And decided to translate her chatters in the only way he knew how: chirps. (It could be worse, I suppose; he could be LOUD)
But the constant presence of a squeaker around the house makes things amusing. And we certainly never forgot he’s around. (Though the fact he can now reach the top of our chairs with a stretch makes that even harder)
And while he’s shy, he isn’t above chatting with guests. Earning fans with everyone who gets to hear him talk. It’s why we were so happy when our formal portrait session caught him mid-meow. Because it defined his personality so perfectly. (Not to mention the picture was too cute for words)
I always know when it’s time for a writing break because Ekko comes by and squeaks at me. He then usually proceeds to sprawl across the keyboard (he learned well from Tonks), but I get that two-second warning. And the cute little peep never fails to make me smile.
So maybe meows were a feline construct to gain human attention. If I get daily humor out of the deal, I’m not about to complain.