Ah, the joys of cat parenthood: the cuddles, the purrs, the kneading, and the constant meowing at all hours of the day and night.
Some meowing is par for the course. Even as kids, we’re told that cats meow, dogs bark, and, if we want to delve deeper into the animal kingdom, there’s some poor farmer out there with an incredibly noisy farm. It’s normal for animals to make noise!
But when do your cat’s meowing habits exceed the norm? Could they be telling you something important? Let's take a look at some of the factors that could be contributing to your cat’s chattiness.
First, let's talk about breeds. Some cats are simply more talkative than others. Siamese cats, for example, are known to meow more than other breeds. This doesn't mean that all Siamese cats will meow constantly, but it's something to keep in mind, even if you just have a mixed breed who’s part Siamese.
This is an explanation that often escapes people who have just adopted their cat. After all, if your cat seems meek and mild for a week or so, then suddenly lets loose with ceaseless meowing, the breed-specific explanation may seem less likely than the “my-cat-hates-it-here” explanation. Actually, it could be the exact opposite: Your kitty started showing their true, loud colors once they felt comfortable in their new home.
Contrary to popular public opinion about cats, they can be attention seekers, just like their canine counterparts. If you’ve been too busy to play laser tag or provide cuddles lately, your cat may be hoping you’ll get the message.
Make sure you're giving your furry friend enough attention, and try to set aside time for bonding and playtime each day to keep them entertained.
Speaking of entertainment, boredom is another factor that could be contributing to your cat's meowing. And keeping your cat occupied can involve both interactive and independent play. If your cat does get bored, they may resort to meowing to get your attention. And if you grant them the attention they’re seeking, you’ll just be reinforcing their behavior. Whoops.
Other signs of boredom include:
Destructive behavior (goodbye, formerly intact couch arm!)
Elimination outside the litter box
Aggression towards other pets
Increase or loss of appetite
Changes in sleeping patterns
Cats are curious creatures (you’ve heard the saying!) and need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy.
Hunger or Thirst
Did you forget to feed your cat? Probably not. Most cats are pretty good at reminding their owners about routines they enjoy. That said, if your cat is meowing out of the blue and they’ve already been fed, check their water bowl.
Oh, and one more thing to remember about food: If you gave your cat part of your tuna sandwich every day last week around noon, they’ll remind you about the ritual this week. Try not to start habits involving food or treats if you’re not prepared to keep them up.
As cats age, their behavior can change. Senior cats may meow more than their younger counterparts, and this can be due to a variety of factors. For example, they may be experiencing cognitive decline or may be in pain from age-related conditions such as arthritis. If your senior cat is meowing more than usual, it's worth taking them to the vet for a checkup.
Anxiety or Stress
Cats can experience anxiety and stress just like humans can, and meowing can be a sign that they're feeling overwhelmed. If you've recently moved, brought a new pet (or child!) into the home, or had a change in your routine, your cat may be feeling anxious.
Pay attention to the sound of their meows: The tone may be different than usual when they’re feeling triggered. Try to provide a safe and quiet space for your cat to retreat to, and consider using calming pheromone sprays or diffusers to help ease their anxiety.
If your typically mellow cat is suddenly yowling, it could be a sign that something is amiss with their health. In that case, it’s important to take them to the vet for a checkup. Some common cat health issues that can cause excessive meowing include hyperthyroidism, dental problems, and urinary tract infections.
Finally, it's worth considering that your cat's constant meowing may simply be a habit they've developed with your (accidental) reinforcement. If your cat has learned that meowing gets them attention, they may continue to do so even when they don't need anything. To break this habit, try to ignore your cat's meows when they don't need anything, and reward them with attention and treats when they're quiet.
Ultimately, there are many reasons why your cat might be meowing constantly, from breed characteristics to health issues to boredom. So if your cat is vocalizing excessively, first you’ll need to think about the possible causes of their chattiness. Once you do, you can take steps to make them feel healthier, happier, and more comfortable in their environment.
And maybe then they’ll stop keeping you awake at night.