So as far as I know the cat animals are related to each other by evolution. (Please correct me on this if I am wrong?)

How come the big cats; lions, tigers et.c. roar but smaller cats like house cats meow?

Has the evolution of meowing contra roaring been backtracked?

Is it possible to tell from the anatomy of a cat and a lion what differences cause the meowing and the roaring? Is there some peculiarities in the design of their voice boxes which cause the differences in sounds?


1 Answer 1


They have different vocal cords, differently-shaped pharynx. I would imagine that is all that explains the difference in sound. As to mewing versus roaring, the vocalizations you reference are not applied to similar sithations. I wonder if there are videos of baby lions mewing or making similar sounds to get their monther's attention?

  • $\begingroup$ OMG you are right. I could youtube it. meowing lion cubs. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2018 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ tiger kittens seem to meow. source: youtube.com/watch?v=nX6XnIxPqO0 $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2018 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ Also, cats will yowl, which (to my ear, anyway) isn't that much different from a roar, given the smaller size/higher pitch of the cat/. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Mar 18, 2018 at 18:56

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