Many of us cat lovers have a soft spot in our hearts for feral cats. These often misunderstood felines are still cats, but they are far from domesticated and their intriguing behavior is proof of it. Feral cats must behave the way that they do because of the fact that they are not domesticated. They often have no idea where their next meal is coming from or if they will have to fight at a moment’s notice or flee from wherever they’re calling home. Feral cats operate by a strict modus operandi. Every move is calculated precisely with purpose. And being under the radar from humans is high on their agenda of things to do. Because of this, many cat people have noticed that feral cats do not meow. Let’s take a closer look to help you better understand why feral cats behave the way that they do…
First off, you must understand why it is that domesticated cats meow
Your cat has you very well trained. And the truth is, they’ve started their master manipulation on you from the moment they entered your home. Cats will be cats, and they are excellent at conditioning us to get what they want. And, you know their best method of winning us over? Those meows! A cat’s meow can be mighty, but it can also be soft and sweet. When cats are hungry, they will often be very vocal about it. And when cats want attention, they are not shy about it and will often let you know with vocal signals. While many argue that cats meow at each other, the truth is, that their meows are mainly reserved as a way to communicate with humans. Past kittenhood, cats learn to use their meows as a method to communicate with humans in order to get what they want. Which, as we know, is usually food-related.
So, why don’t feral cats meow?
As I mentioned above, feral cats and domesticated cats lead very different lives. Your feral cat is forced to live on the streets scraping by, and their interactions with humans are extremely limited and avoided at all costs. However, our domesticated house cats have us wrapped around their paws and they know it, too. Feral cats do not meow because they do not see the point in communicating with humans. They are often quiet and go under the radar as a defense mechanism that plays into their survival. They have no reason to meow at humans because they do not trust humans.
If you encounter what you believe to be a feral cat and they are meowing at you, you need to realize that this is most likely not a feral cat you are witnessing. This is a stray cat. And it’s important to understand the difference between feral cats and stray cats. (You can learn the differences here on Cattitude Daily should you be unsure.)
Additionally, feral cats are mainly active at night. And should you think you see a disheveled cat during the daytime with a coat that looks unkempt, this is another tell-tale sign that you are seeing a stray cat and not a feral cat. Stray cats are not fully acclimated to outdoor life, and their questionable physical appearance is proof of it. A feral cat usually has a nice coat and looks well-groomed. Feral cats operate mostly at night because this is the time when they hunt—as there are fewer humans and other dangers present at this time—such as moving vehicles. (A tipped ear is the classic sign of a feral cat, which you likely already knew as a certified cat person.)
Sounds you will hear from feral cats
Although a feral cat isn’t going to mosey on up to you and meow, there are sounds that you will definitely hear emitted from these outdoor street cats. Feral cats are highly territorial, so you will certainly hear yowls coming from them—especially if they are engaged in a turf battle with an opposing feral cat that is making them feel threatened. Growling is also another common sound that feral cats will make. And they do this if they feel threatened or angry. Cats have an intense fight or flight response, and this is only magnified for our feral cat friends. It is best to give these cats distance and keep in mind that these animals are quick to attack to defend themselves and their colonies. Of course, it is possible to tame a feral cat, but this takes significant time, dedication, and lots of patience.