Wild cats usually do not need to continue meowing after becoming adults when their mothers leave them. But many domestic cats continue meowing as a way to communicate or to attract people’s attention.
In order to understand what various meows mean, the scientists are going to record the vocalizations of about 30 to 50 cats in different situations.
They will try to figure out differences in phonetic patterns when cats are content, friendly, happy, hungry or angry.
"It seems cats can consciously vary their intonation or melody constantly, perhaps to convey a certain message, perhaps to alter or increase the urgency of a message, or emotions," said Susanne Schötz, reader in phonetics at Lund University and leader of the project, told Daily Mail.
The study may also have implications on how people treat cats in animal shelters and care homes.
Another goal is to study whether cats react differently to various aspect of human speech, including different voices, intonations and speaking styles.