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My 1-year-old cat only meows when he wants food or when he wants to play. However, I have observed other cats meowing and purring much more often than my cat.

Is there something wrong with my cat's behavior?

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Some people might consider this a positive behavior! However, not all cats are vocal just as not all dogs bark much, each is a little unique. Having said that, your cat may be a little hard of hearing. One of our cats is deaf and she will vocalize when being bundled up for the vet, but is otherwise quite silent. The only thing is, she sometimes looks like she is meowing but no sound comes out...

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  • I think you are correct of some cats not being vocal but my cat has excellent hearing. – Abdullah Shafique Oct 9 '13 at 14:03
  • Compared to human, probably, but maybe not compared to other cats. Not a worry, I suspect he's just the strong, silent, type. :D – John Cavan Oct 9 '13 at 14:05
  • I had a cat that was totally deaf who used to yowl her head off just because she was bored. Not sure there's much of a connection here. But John's answer is overall correct: some cats are just quieter than others. If your cat is still affectionate and friendly, and isn't exhibiting any symptoms of pain or illness, this isn't something to worry about. – hairboat Oct 9 '13 at 17:41
  • @AbbyT.Miller care to write an answer if the Q reopens – user6796 Oct 24 '13 at 4:57
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As John Cavan mentioned, cats vary considerably in how vocal they are. There are a number of factors that determine how often they meow, including genetic (some species, such as siamese, are notorious "talkers", for example), upbringing, and general disposition.

Some cats only vocalize when they want something. Others walk throughout the house loudly meowing, simply to indicate they're happy. Still others only vocalize when they are upset.

While a hearing problem can't be ruled out, this sounds perfectly normal to me.

As a side anecdote, one of the cats we rescued was identified as deaf. Even in his foster home, he was completely unresponsive to sound, other than the vacuum cleaner, which the foster family chalked up to him feeling the vibrations. Indeed, for the first few months at our house, he was both completely silent, and ignored anything audible.

However, it turned out that he could hear just fine, and was simply ignoring us! Once he got comfortable, he not only responded to sound and words, but also started vocalizing on his own. He's got a very quiet meow (something I find to be fairly frequent in males who were neutered at a young age), but is no longer shy about using it!

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  • I've heard that meowing is a learned response (humans react when the cat meows, so when it wants something it knows how to get it), but I have no sources and only a vague memory. – Monica Cellio Oct 9 '13 at 14:42
  • @MonicaCellio Our oldest sub-vocalized her meows (mouth moved, but no sound was made), and our vet said it was an indication of trust and affection. However, I have also learned that meowing (and extra loud "imperative" purring) can also be learned responses. In fact, we had one cat who never meowed, and then had a friend's cat stay with us a week while they were on vacation. The visiting cat was very vocal, and after leaving, our previously silent cat became extremely vocal, too. – Beofett Oct 9 '13 at 14:46
  • The silent meow is generally accepted among armchair pet experts to be a sign of affection and trust, much like the purr and the slow blink. – hairboat Oct 9 '13 at 17:42
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    Mine have definitely learned that I am often amused when they "talk" at me, and do so more often as a result. I'm sure that from their point of view, they have trained me to pay attention to them on command.... – keshlam Oct 2 '16 at 0:07

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