You may have not noticed how often your cat meows, or exactly what it sounds like, but lately it seems like suddenly they always have something to say. Even when your cat is sitting all alone, they start belting out the meows.
It seems like it’s nonstop now, and you’re starting to wonder if this is normal. Let’s take a look at what might be causing these changes and when you should be concerned.
Why Does My Cat Keep Meowing?
Meowing serves as a cat’s major source of communication. As such, there are a lot of reasons they vocalize. It would be like a cat asking, “Why does my human talk”?
But if your cat is starting to meow a lot more than normal, there’s a reason behind it, and a little detective work will often help identify the likely possibilities.
Some of these include:
Pain:Cats that are uncomfortable will often be restless and meow. If something is significantly painful, it might be a sharp, ear-piercing cry.
Urinary issue:Although some cats will “announce” that they have successfully used the litter box, other cats will only meow in or around the box if they are uncomfortable while urinating or defecating.
Kidney disease:This is not a common cause of excessive meowing, but some cats with kidney disease do sometimes seem more restless and vocal than other cats, especially on the “bad days.” These cats often also have a decreased appetite and increased thirst.
Hyperthyroidism:This is a common condition in senior cats. Cats with an overactive thyroid are often on “high drive,” and they can have secondary hypertension in addition to thyroid disease. These cats can be exceptionally vocal as well as restless. Often, they will eat more than normal but will still lose weight.
Feline cognitive dysfunction:As cats age, they can develop syndromes that are similar to Alzheimer’s. These cats can develop odd behaviors such as excessive, very persistent meowing.
Deafness/losing hearing or sight:Many cats that previously relied on vision or hearing as part of their communication process will become increasingly vocal when they lose these senses. Many deaf and blind cats will meow loudly and repeatedly.
Hunger:Cats that are hungry (or think they are hungry!) will try to get your attention with meows, sometimes trying to “lead” you to their bowl or food storage area.
Empty/dirty water bowl:Likewise, thirsty cats—or those that want the faucet turned on—will meow at the water source. If the bowl needs cleaning, they will meow to alert you of this.
Lonely or bored:Although it isn’t as common as dogs that bark when lonely, some cats will meow if they are lonely or feeling bored and want attention.
Stressed or scared:It is very common for cats that are stressed or frightened to meow, especially if they are in your car on the way to the veterinary hospital. This is sometimes accompanied by hissing.
Breed trait:Some cat breeds simply “talk” more than others. Vocal breeds include Siamese, Bengals, Sphynx, and Tonkinese, as well as mixed breeds containing some of these lineages.
Mating habits: Animals in heat can be extremely vocal, particularly during mating season. While mating, cats can let out some ear-piercing screams, commonly known as caterwauling.
Attention/saying hi:Meowing is a sure-fire way for many cats to get attention, so they will use it as a greeting and expect you to respond.
Learned behavior:Sometimes, we unwittingly teach our cats to talk. When they meow, they often get what they want, so it becomes a learned behavior. They’ve trained their humans to jump at a meow!
Wanting to go out:Indoor/outdoor cats will often meow at either side of the door, hoping it will magically open and let them in … and then out … and then in again!
Dirty litter box alert:Although simply finding a puddle on the floor is a more common dirty litter pan alert, some cats will come and notify you with an annoyed meow that the box needs to be scooped/dumped/washed.
Wanting to play: Many young cats will present a toy to their favorite person along with a happy meow as a friendly request to play.
Hypertension: Cats with high blood pressure (commonly secondary to kidney disease or thyroid disease) will also meow more, and more incessantly, than healthy cats.
Why Is My Cat Meowing at Night?
Most cats prefer to be active at night as opposed to the daytime, and they really don’t understand why their humans aren’t particularly interested in interacting!
Many cats will meow at night because they are bored, frustrated, or want something, such as food, snacks, or attention. Unfortunately, many pet parents will get up and give their cat what they want just to quiet them, which rewards the behavior. Cats learn that meowing gets them what they want, so they continue doing it. This is an example of cats successfully training their people.
Health reasons can also cause cats to meow excessively, especially overnight. Some of the more common reasons for this include hypertension, an overactive thyroid, and cognitive dysfunction.
In some cases, it may also simply be true that we notice our cats’ vocalizations more at night since the house is quiet.
Why Is My Kitten Meowing So Much?
Kittens often meow more than older cats, in part because they are still developing their communication skills, and vocalization is an important thing for them to practice.
Most of the time, kittens are trying to communicate a need or want, like food, attention, or playtime. A frightened or angry kitten may also vocalize more than an adult cat. If your kitten seems distressed and isn’t soothed by providing food/water/attention/play, consider having them checked over to be sure they aren’t in pain or trying to communicate that they are sick.
Why Is My Cat Always Hungry and Meowing?
Cats that are always hungry and meowing for food may have a medical condition called hyperthyroidism, particularly if they are also losing weight. These cats are usually middle-aged to older and may also have other conditions such as hypertension or kidney disease. Cats that show these signs should have an exam and laboratory testing to see if their thyroid is the underlying problem.
Why Is My Cat Meowing Differently?
You may notice that your cat’s meow suddenly sounds different, often taking on a hoarse sound. There are several reasons this could happen, but the most common reason tends to be an upper respiratory infection.
Just like when you have a cold, cats can get a scratchy, hoarse-sounding voice. In most cases, these kitties will show additional signs, such as runny eyes and nose, sneezing, and loss of appetite. In some cases, the larynx can be inflamed, resulting in laryngitis or the loss of a meow.
Other more severe causes of voice change include laryngeal paralysis, where the nerve controlling the larynx is not working properly; tumors; and other concerning diagnoses.
For this reason, any cat that has a different-sounding meow should be examined by a veterinarian to try and determine the underlying cause.
Why Is My Male Cat Yowling?
Most commonly, male cats will yowl when they are looking for a mate. This is primarily a hormone-driven behavior that generally stops once an animal has been neutered.
Occasionally, a female will also yowl, most commonly to advertise to the male that she is available. Likewise, spayed females are much less likely to do this. It is to the benefit of all parties, particularly those trying to sleep at night, to have your cat spayed or neutered.
What to Do if Your Cat Won’t Stop Meowing
If your cat won’t stop meowing, the first step should always be to look for the cause. Is there something that your cat needs or something specific they are trying to communicate?
Check that all of the basics are present—food, clean water, clean litter pan, and so on. Also make sure that there is no reason that she would be distressed or in pain. However, if your cat is just meowing for attention, you probably do not want to reward the behavior by giving in to it.
Teaching a cat to meow for something they need as opposed to something they want is possible, but it does take patience and a careful monitoring of what they are trying to communicate.
Once you are sure your cat is only working the system for attention, and you are certain that all of their needs have been met, do not scold them for meowing. Instead, simply do not reward the behavior. Look the other way, engage in some other activity, and do not give your cat attention until they are quiet.
At no time should you ever hit or scold your cat for meowing. This is a communication from your cat to you, and you always want to keep those lines of communication open. Scaring or hurting your cat will never teach them how to meow when they need something. Instead, it will teach them to fear you.
If kitty’s meow has changed in tone or frequency, or there are additional signs, like poor appetite, weight loss, or attitude changes, ask your veterinarian to examine your cat as soon as possible.
Questions to Ask If Your Cat Keeps Meowing
When is your cat meowing? Is there a trigger, like someone coming home from work? How about after dark? Once everyone is in bed? Timing can give valuable clues to the cause of the meowing.
Where is your cat meowing? Is there a specific location that gives a clue, like in the litter box, near a toy, or at the door when someone has left? Or is your cat sitting in a corner, looking at the wall? All of these provide clues.
Is your cat spayed or neutered? Hormones certainly can trigger a cat to be much more vocal—and sometimes intensively loud!
Is your cat a breed or mixed with a breed that’s talkative? Quite a few breeds of cats, such as Siamese, are known to be “talkers.”
Is your cat’s litter box clean? Some cats can make their displeasure at a dirty litter pan quite clear. They might even meow after each time they use it.
Does your cat have food and a clean, full water dish? A hungry or thirsty cat will often work hard to communicate their needs to their human family. Remember that a bowl of dry food can seem “empty” to cats if they can see the bottom of the bowl at all.
Does your cat want to go outside? This can be indicated by meowing near the door or attempting to “lead” you to the door. Ditto for coming back in!
Is your cat in “play” mode? Cats will often meow as they present a toy to play with, or as they play and hunt even alone.
When to Go to the Vet for Constant Meowing
Making the decision of when to make a veterinary appointment can be difficult, so here are a few guidelines:
If your male cat is meowing and straining to urinate, have him examined immediately.
If your kitty seems to be meowing out of distress or pain, or is open-mouth panting while meowing, it is time to head right to the emergency vet.
If you notice additional symptoms such as weight loss or changes in appetite, attitude, or urination, make an appointment for the soonest opportunity.
If you can’t determine a possible cause for the excessive meowing or change in meow, call your vet. When your instinct says something is wrong, follow it.
How Will a Vet Diagnose a Cat That’s Meowing Constantly?
Because there are so many potential underlying causes of increased meowing, veterinarians will likely vary in their approach to the diagnosis. In most cases, your veterinarian will ask you a lot of questions, including those listed above.
They will also compare your cat’s current weight and vitals to those from previous visits. If there’s reason to believe that a medical cause is at play, it is very likely that bloodwork and a urinalysis will be recommended.
If it seems that a behavioral cause is likely, your veterinarian may still recommend lab work in addition to looking at behavioral treatment options. Once your vet determines a working diagnosis for the excessive meowing, forming a treatment plan will be much more straightforward.
Featured Image: iStock/cunfek
Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP
Sandra Mitchell is a 1995 graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine.Since graduation, she has worked in many fields...
Your cat could be meowing excessively because they are hungry, afraid, sick, or when they need your attention and love. There are different meow sounds that cats make at certain times. If your cat is meowing non-stop, it can be very challenging for you to figure out the issue.Why is my cat meowing but not hungry? ›
It's not uncommon for cats to meow when they need something, but excessive meowing for no apparent reason can be a sign of cat constipation and other physical and psychological medical conditions. If your cat is meowing a lot, check to see if they need food or water, and try giving them attention.What are cats trying to say when they meow? ›
Meowing is all-purpose; your cat may be using "meow" as a greeting, a command, an objection or an announcement. Some people have observed their cats walking around the house meowing to themselves. Chirps and trills are how a mother cat tells their kittens to follow them.How do cats act when they are sick? ›
Sick cats usually become withdrawn and may hide, although this does depend on the personality of the individual cat. Some cats become more clingy or demanding of attention, while others just become cranky. As a general rule, cats that are sick will have lower energy levels.Why does my female cat walk around crying? ›
If a cat isn't feeling well, she may roam the house and vocalize her distress as she tries to find a comfortable place. A variety of illnesses, including hyperthyroidism, can cause a cat to feel restless, irritable, thirsty and/or hungry, prompting them to wander and meow.Do cats yowl for attention? ›
Cats may yowl because they are hungry, bored, or they want attention. Furthermore, cats use yowling as a mating call. Finally, cat yowling may be a sign of pain, cognitive dysfunction, or behavior issues.How do you know if your cat is sad meowing? ›
Signs of a Depressed Cat
Meowing more or less than usual or making low-pitched, mournful meows. Lack of energy or a decrease in activity level. Retreating from humans or other family pets.
Sometimes, bored cats might express signs typical of anxiety, including excessive meowing, moaning and self-grooming. Similar symptoms can be spotted in cats who struggle from separation anxiety. Just don't forget that anxiety, in combination with boredom, can lead to destructive and aggressive behaviors.Do cats like you talking to them? ›
Yes, you read that right: A recent study revealed that getting your pet's attention is as simple as speaking with a high-pitched tone and extended vowels, just like how you'd communicate with a human baby. Additionally, the study suggested that your cat can actually tell you apart from strangers.What are 4 signs your cat is suffering? ›
Behaviour signs of a cat in pain
Lethargy. Decreased interest in positive things like playing, social interaction and exploring outside. Being withdrawn and hiding away. Appearing lame and experiencing increased sensitivity to touch in specific areas of their body.
While hugging your ailing cat might make you feel better, it's likely not what your kitty wants. The best way to comfort your sick cat is to provide a warm and quiet place to sleep, make sure they have easy access to their litter box and food—perhaps you can move them closer?What does it mean when a stray cat comes to your house and won t leave? ›
If you find a stray cat hanging around your house, or trying to gain access inside, it is more than likely looking for a safe haven with food, water, and a little bit of TLC.Why is my cat meowing so much and walking weird? ›
Cats who have not been spayed or neutered have been known to walk around meowing while in heat. In addition to vocalizations, other indicators that your cat is in heat include: Rubbing against furniture, toys, walls, and perhaps even you. Trying to get outside.What do cats think when you cry in front of them? ›
Cats can sense how people are feeling, so your cat actually can tell when you're sad. “Cats can definitely sense when you are sad because they are highly attuned to your normal behaviors and moods, and if there is a change, they sense it,” Dr. Wooten told The Dodo.Is there such thing as giving a cat too much attention? ›
Cats are very sensitive creatures and will become overstimulated by too much petting, regardless of how much they enjoy it. Some cats are overstimulated much more easily than others and may even react violently if touched in the wrong way.Do cats like to be held like a baby? ›
Most cats love to snuggle, and they're typically responsive to being held if you introduce them to it gradually. The best way to approach your cat for a hug is to start with a few soft pets, then carefully pick them up. Be sure to secure all four of their legs so that they don't dangle.Do cats get depressed when owners are away? ›
Although cats don't need as much constant attention as most dogs, they do connect and bond with their humans, and they feel unhappy when separated for too long.Do cats get sad when you leave? ›
Short answer: yes. When their needs for companionship are not met, cats can become depressed. They can also get separation anxiety. Unfortunately, feline separation anxiety often goes unnoticed until it becomes severe.Can my cat tell I'm depressed? ›
It appears that cats can sense human moods as well as depression. Cats are observant and intuitive, and this allows them to understand emotional cues from humans. So when you are depressed, they can sense that too. In particular, cats may come in closer proximity when their fur parents are depressed.How do indoor cats get worms? ›
Infestation depends on the type of worm, but most often, cats get worms by coming into contact with fleas, eggs or infected particles in feces. Fleas are carriers for tapeworm eggs. If a flea jumps onto your cat, they could accidentally ingest the flea by grooming or scratching.
Common recommendations are to: Treat kittens for roundworms every 2 weeks from 3 weeks of age until 8 weeks of age, then monthly to 6 months of age. Treat adult cats (greater than 6 months of age) every 1-3 months.How much attention do cats really need? ›
Cats, while often independent creatures, still crave attention and love, in addition to their obvious nutritional needs of fresh water, clean litter, and food. If you decide to bring a cat or kitten into your home, you should be prepared to spend at least 20 minutes a day giving your cat loving one-on-one attention.What do indoor cats do all day? ›
Sleep, sleep, sleep
It was no surprise to find my cats spend a lot of time sleeping. It's estimated that cats spend 12 – 16 hours a day sleeping, and as indoor cats, my two love lounging around. They have several different preferred snoozing spots depending on the time of day.
At least that's what we all thought. But as it turns out, science shows us that cats are much more complex and emotionally attuned than we give them credit for. They may not say sorry the same way a human would. But they do apologise, in their own way.How quickly do cats forgive? ›
For many cats, minor misdemeanors seem to fall in the short-term memory category so it is likely all will be forgiven within a few hours to days. Kittens have a relatively short memory and can appear to be more forgiving than older cats.What not to say to your cat? ›
- By Sarah Ashley. Published May 5, 2021.
- We know cats recognize their own names. ...
- “I'm sure you're fine.” ...
- “Stay out here!” ...
- “No!” ...
- Use good commands like “Treat!” for negative experiences. ...
- “Bite my hand!” ...
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Every cat is different. While some cats enjoy being kissed, others will not. Some will feel love, while others will not see kissing as a sign of affection. There are better ways than kissing to show a cat affection that they will understand.Where your cat sleeps on your bed and what it means? ›
If your cat sleeps on your bed, he may choose a position that lets him see out your bedroom door more easily. If he's curled up in a ball under your bed or in a quiet corner, then he may be hiding. Cats who sleep under the covers might love being close to you, or they might be hiding to feel safer.What words do cats understand? ›
“Technically, cats can't understand human words because their cognitive skills are not advanced enough,” Glover told The Dodo. Cats understand language the same way that we understand what they're trying to say when they meow. They know that we're talking to them, but they don't know exactly what we're saying.How do cats say I trust you? ›
Cats can show affection by bunting. When they rub their scent glands against your ankles and hands, it's a surefire way to indicate that they like you. Purring and other vocalizations also show that they trust you and your presence. Cats vocalize to communicate with you.
Cats recognize each other (and us) by scent. Raising the butt is your cat's way of getting their anal glands closer to your nose so you can get a whiff of their pheromones.
According to the experts, cats do not understand smiles and frowns independently, but they fully understand strong human emotions when expressed in more than one dimension — more due to the tone of voice than facial expressions. So, unlike interacting with dogs, smiling is not an effective way to connect with a cat.What happens right before a cat dies? ›
Cats will often become more affectionate as they approach their last days, wanting more attention than normal and being more vocal. Other cats may become less active and more withdrawn, sleeping more than usual and losing interest in playtime or interaction with humans.How old do house cats live? › Do cats get their feelings hurt? ›
They can be happy and excited, but they can also feel sad and disappointed. Just like humans, cats can feel several different emotions during any given day, and they occasionally have their feelings hurt by their closest friends. Obviously, we never want to hurt our cats' feelings.What is my cat trying to tell me? ›
Growling, hissing or spitting indicates a cat who is annoyed, frightened, angry or aggressive. Leave this cat alone. A yowl or howl (they sound like loud, drawn-out meows) tells you your cat is in some kind of distress—stuck in a closet, looking for you or in pain.What is a sick cat's body language? ›
A cat who's feeling sick may hold her head low and squint her eyes or hold them shut. Her ears might sit low or rotated outward, and her whiskers might be pointing downward. She may hold her head, feet and tail very close to her body, so that they're tucked into a tight ball.Should I give my dying cat water? ›
Things You Should Know
Make your cat comfortable by giving them extra bedding, treats, and attention. Keep their food, water, and litter box nearby. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to euthanasia.
Your cat could be meowing excessively because they are hungry, afraid, sick, or when they need your attention and love. There are different meow sounds that cats make at certain times. If your cat is meowing non-stop, it can be very challenging for you to figure out the issue.What cheers a cat up? ›
Exercise and social interactions are proven mood-boosters—for people and cats! Regular play gives your cat both, and it'll help to keep her mentally sharp too. Make sure to engage in 15 minutes of active play with your cat at least once a day.
Think food puzzles to engage minds and bodies, vertical space for climbing and surveying their domain, scratching posts, safe outdoor access (like a catio), window perches and interactive play. “Play is an important part of relieving stress,” Delgado says. “It helps cats release those feel-good hormones.”Why won't my cat stop meowing randomly? ›
Commonly, cat's excessive meowing is either a call for attention or to let you know that they are anxious, scared, or lonely. However, other times it can mean that they are in pain or have a health issue on the rise and may need to see a vet to ensure they have good cat health.What are the signs of a cat in heat? ›
- Flirtatious, extra-affectionate behaviour.
- Rubbing and rolling on the floor.
- Extreme vocalising, yowling as if in pain (this can be very alarming!)
- Raised hindquarters, moving the tail from side to side.
Cats have their first estrous (reproductive) cycle when they reach puberty. On average, puberty, or sexual maturity, first occurs in cats at about six months of age, but this can vary slightly by the time of year (length of daylight hours). The estrous cycle is better known as a cat's heat cycle.What does a cat caterwaul sound like? ›
The caterwaul is another cat noise that once heard is never forgotten! This shrill, wailing noise can sound like your pet is in pain, but it's actually elicited when a cat is in heat. This sound is most commonly made by cats that haven't been spayed or neutered.
There's a good chance that your cat is walking around meowing for a perfectly harmless reason. Many cats have been known to make a routine of this when they are hungry or bored. That said, if your previously quiet kitty is suddenly mewing her head off, it's a behavior change that shouldn't be ignored.Is cats going into heat painful? ›
Being in heat is not typically painful for cats, although they may feel some discomfort or agitation. When your cat in heat makes a loud, howling sound, you may assume they're in pain. But rest assured, the increased vocalization (known as “caterwauling”) is just your cat's way of attracting a potential suitor.At what age do cats stop going into heat? ›
DEAR RUBY: Cats do not undergo menopause, and a cat that has not been spayed will continue to be fertile and produce kittens throughout her life. Likewise, she will continue to have estrous cycles — known as going into heat — for her entire life. Most cats are capable of becoming mothers around the age of 6 months.How long does a cat in heat last? ›
Signs of heat will resolve within 24-48 hours of ovulation, which will occur only if a female cat in heat mates. Otherwise, the average cat will be in “heat” for seven days (ranging from 2-19 days). This cycle can repeat itself every two to three weeks, as long as there are extended daylight hours.How do cats act in first heat? ›
While your cat is on heat it's likely she will become very affectionate, 'flirty', start 'calling'/meowing loudly (it can even sound like she is in pain), rolling around, arching her back and moving her tail to one side. She will try hard to find a male cat, and male cats will be equally keen to reach her.
When it is hot, cats sleep more than ever. Just like human beings, they favour quiet and shady places for a nap – on cool stone tiles, for example. It is very important to make sure that they have sufficient sources of water.How do I get my cat to stop meowing? ›
Cats often meow to initiate play, petting, or to get you to talk to them. If you want to cut down on attention-seeking meows, stop responding when it happens. Only give them attention when they are quiet. If they start to meow again, look or walk away.Why is my cat running around like a maniac and meowing? ›
The most common reason cats experience the zoomies is pent-up energy. Cats rest and sleep for a majority of the day to conserve energy for short, very active periods. Without intentional exercise and activity, your kitty will need to find a way to get that extra energy out, resulting in a case of the zoomies.