Cats are generally unique creatures, and a lot of what one does doesn’t match up with the others.
Look at what the cat is doing, and remember what the cat usually does. I find there’s a short list of things a cat can want:
- Sensual stimulation
Make no mistake — you have nothing to do with the last two. So the cat is only interested in one of the first three.
Man, Luna looks fat in that picture. But along those lines, I find the number one priority of cats is food. Or at least Luna. She’ll wait for me to open a door. I’ll pause and stare at her. She’ll look up at me quizzically and ask, “meow?” Then I’ll walk toward the kitchen, and she’ll know she’s getting food! “MEOOOOWWW!!” followed by another happy “MEOOOOOWWW!!! OMG MEOOOOOWWWW!!! FOODFOODFOOD”
I’ll put her cat dish on the counter, and she’ll jump up on it, getting in the way. Purrrpurrpurr *nuzzle*. No more meows necessary once I have her cat dish on the counter. She’ll then jump at the food, eat for a bit, and give me a long, appreciative stare midway, and then finish to consume her prey.
Then I’ll know, at least for the next couple of hours, that she won’t want food. So if she approaches me, I’ll know she wants to play. I open a door, and see her waiting for me. She’ll ask, “meow?” If I walk to the kitchen, she’ll certainly be happy and expect a small treat, but she won’t get excited like before. But instead, if I widen my stance to that of a predator stalking his prey, she’ll lower nose, locking her gaze on me, tensing up. When I approach, I hear “rrr rr rrrrrr!” and she’ll rush off, her little paws scraping along the hardwood floor, usually sliding and crashing into something. She’ll find a hiding spot, and I’ll spot her… then resume my stalking pose, and LUNGE AT HER! She darts out! “Rrrr rrr rrrr!!!” and again slides… *CRASH!*
Then I’ll toss some of her toys around, including the tiny little fake mice Kimberly Thrush, a friend of Luna, bought her. And she’ll slide and crash a few times chasing those.
Then… sometimes Luna gets sleepy. Veerrrry sleepy…
This is when she wants nothing more to be immobile for a long period of time. But she likes to make the most of her inactivity, being tended to by a human. She won’t meow. She realizes noise annoys humans. She’ll instead go limp, like an irresistibly cozy little meatball. She’ll purr when you touch her. She’ll stretch! She’ll nuzzle. But she won’t be meowing.
So, to recap…
- Cats meow to annoy the shit out of you
- Cats first meow, and more loudly, to get food
- Cats later meow because they want to play, but just a little
- This may vary, as each cat is weird in its own way