Meowing in domestic cats is a signature sound along with hissing. Even if a person has never even owned or been around a cat before, they still know what a meow sounds likes.
We all know that house cats meow, but what about big cats out in the wild? Do lions or tigers meow?
This article covers whether big cats like lions and tigers meow, plus much more. Let’s get started!
Do Big Cats Meow?
Big cats do not meow because their anatomy is not the same as their smaller relatives, the domesticated house cats. The bone structure (hyoid bone) in the necks of big cats is different than that of smaller cats (ossified hyoids).
This bone structure allows big cats to have the ability to roar, but not meow or purr.
The hyoid bone is connected with a tough, elastic ligament and allows more air to flow through the vocal cords.
With more air flowing through the vocal cords, big cats are able to produce deeper sounds like roaring but are unable to produce lighter sounds like meowing and purring.
Do Lions Meow?
Lions do not meow because they lack the capability within their vocal cords to produce such sounds as meowing and purring that you hear in small, domestic cats. Lions have a larynx that allows them to produce loud sounds like roaring but renders them unable to produce sounds like meowing.
Lions are known for their impressive roar so much so that Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) has used the signature roar of a lion in their movie intros and logos for a long time.
While lions have the loudest and most impressive roar of all the big cats, they do not have the ability to meow like domestic cats.
Even though lions do not meow, they can produce many other deeper sounds that include hums, grunts, puffs, and roars (just to name a few).
Do Tigers Meow?
Tigers do not meow because they also lack the capability within their vocal cords to produce such a sound as a meow. While tigers may have a sound similar to meowing, it isn’t truly a meow like their smaller relatives, domestic house cats.
Tigers can produce a lot of different sounds, but four distinct sounds tigers make include chuffing, growling, moaning, and roaring.
Tigers do not meow because the anatomy in their throats and knecks is different than that of the house cat.
Tigers are built to make deeper and louder sounds than meowing. Plus, tigers in the wild have never had a reason to meow.
Science believes that house cats meow for many different reasons, but most agree that cats are only meowing to communicate with people and actually don’t even meow to communicate with other cats.
It is only little kittens that meow to communicate with their mothers, but adult cats don’t meow to communicate with other adult cats, only humans.
Based on this reasoning, there would be no reason for a tiger to meow if it is living in the wild because it doesn’t have a need to communicate with humans.
Do Cheetahs Meow?
Cheetahs do meow like house cats, but they are unable to roar because of their anatomy. The bone structure in their necks is similar to that of other small cats, so cheetahs are able to meow.
Cheetahs also make other sounds such as chirps, growls, and purrs. Cheetahs don’t have as strong of vocal cords as cats like lions and tigers.
Because cheetahs have weaker vocal cords, they are not able to produce those powerful bellowing sounds you hear from cats like lions and tigers.
Do Jaguars Meow?
As with other big cats, jaguars are not able to meow because they have different anatomy that allows them to make a louder, deeper sound – but meowing is not one of those sounds.
Also like the other big cats, jaguars can roar but can’t meow. This is a common trend among the bigger cats – being able to produce louder, deeper sounds but unable to meow.
Jaguars can produce other sounds such as chuffing and grunting, but jaguars are known to be mostly silent and aren’t as vocal as some of the other cat species.
Do Leopards Meow?
Leopards do not meow because they have similar anatomy to the other big cats, in which they are able to produce louder and deeper sounds such as roaring but are unable to produce sounds such as meowing.
Leopards are solitary creatures and don’t have a reason to be making a lot of sounds unless they are looking for a mate.
Leopards can roar like the other big cats, but leopard roars can sound something like a saw cutting through a tree. Some will say it almost sounds like a raspy cough.
Do Mountain Lions Meow?
Mountain lions (also known as catamounts, cougars, panthers, and pumas) are the largest cats in the wild that meow like a house cat.
Mountain lions are solitary animals (except for mating and caring for cubs) but use communication such as meowing to locate other cats during mating season and are most active at dusk and dawn.
Not only can mountain lions, cougars, panthers, and pumas meow but they also have the ability to purr.
Do Lynxes Meow?
Despite being one of the medium to bigger-sized cat species, a lynx cat can meow and purr but can’t roar.
As with other cats in the wild, lynxes use meowing as a way to locate other lynx cats.
Lynxes can make a variety of sounds that are similar to that of house cats – including meowing, purring, hissing, and yowling (just to name a few).
Do Bobcats Meow?
Similar to domestic cats, bobcats have the ability to meow, purr, growl, and hiss. Bobcats can also produce other sounds such as cough-like barks to threaten or deter larger predators.
Bobcats will also use meows and squalls as a way to communicate with other bobcats but remain relatively quiet throughout most of the day.
At night and during mating season, bobcats are known to make loud screaming sounds in attempts to find mates.
Like other cats that can meow, bobcats do not have the ability to roar because of the way their anatomy is set up.
Do Any Wild Cats Meow?
Not many wild cats have the ability to produce meowing sounds (compared to how many wild cats exist in nature) but there are some that are able to produce this sound in nature. Wild cats that meow include:
- African wildcats (plus similar species)
- Black-footed cat
- Clouded leopards
- Lion cubs (not adult lions)
- Mountain lions (catamounts, cougars, panthers, pumas)
- Snow leopards
By no means is this list complete and there are other wild cats that can produce meowing sounds but the list above is some of the more popular wild cats that can meow.
Thanks for reading! This article gave you a clear indication of which popular wild cats have the ability to meow and which ones don’t.
Mountain lions (also called cougars, panthers, and pumas) are the largest cats that are known to meow similar to house cats.
The general rule of thumb is that if a cat can roar, it isn’t able to meow – and vice versa. This mainly has to do with the anatomy and how big their throats are and how their neck bones are positioned.
While meowing in domestic cats is more attributed to cats attempting to communicate with humans, wild cats typically meow in an attempt to communicate and locate other cats.
Cats can make many different sounds, depending on their anatomy but most bigger cats do not have the ability to meow.
Other sounds that wild cats can make (depending on their size and anatomy) include roars, grunts, yowls, hisses, growls, mews, purrs, and chuffs (just to name a few).