Find out why your cat is trying so hard to get your attention—and learn how you can help discourage excessive feline chatter.
Cats possess a wide range of vocalizations, from contented purrs to angry growls. Some of the sounds are decidedly endearing, such as the sweet little chirp your cat might make when you stroke his back. Others, though, are not as charming—particularly loud, frequent meows in the wee hours of the night.
How can you discourage your cat from meowing repetitively? First, it helps to determine why your cat wants your attention. Common reasons for chronic vocalizations include:
- Illness or injury: If your cat begins meowing loudly and stridently, he might be sick or in pain (or both). Take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out any medical reasons for the meowing.
- Loneliness or boredom: Your cat might want your attention because he is home alone all day without any forms of entertainment. When you come home, your cat wants your attention. By spending quality time with your cat every day—even if it is just 15 minutes of playing, grooming or petting—you can help curb his repeated demands for your attention. You might also want to consider adopting another pet to keep your cat company.
- A desire to eat: A common reason a cat might meow in the middle of the night is a desire to eat. If you get up to feed your cat every time she meows, you reinforce her nighttime behavior. This habit can be tough to break, but you can help curb it by feeding her at regular meal times, including one right before you turn in for the night. It is important that you do not get up and feed your cat if she meows to be fed at an inappropriate time. In extreme cases, it might help to buy a timed feeder that will open in the wee hours of the morning so your cat won’t wake you with her pleas for food.
Age: Senior cats can experience a type of feline dementia known as “cognitive dysfunction.” This condition can cause a cat to become disoriented, which could cause her to meow loudly and plaintively, seemingly for no reason. If your senior cat begins meowing in this way, take her to the vet for a thorough examination. Some medications can help treat this condition.
- Stress: Changes in a cat’s routine can cause stress, which can then lead to more meowing. If your household has recently undergone a change, such as a new baby, a move to a new home or an older child moving away to college, your cat might express his reaction to the change through more vocalizing. Try to give your cat extra attention to help ease his stress.
- Heat: Unspayed female cats will become extremely vocal when they go into heat and unneutered males become vocal when they smell a female cat in heat. To prevent this type of vocalization, have your cat spayed or neutered.
A cat meows to communicate with her companions, and sometimes owners need to play detective to determine what she is trying to say. If your cat begins meowing excessively and this is not her normal behavior, have her examined by your vet as soon as possible. Never punish her for trying to communicate with you, and avoid the temptation to shout at her when she wakes you up at 3 a.m. with her cries. By taking a bit of time to discover the reason for the meowing, you can help curb future outbursts and perhaps develop a stronger bond with your pet.
About the Author: Stacy N. Hackett is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years’ experience in the pet industry. She is the former editor of Pet Product News and a former staff editor with Cat Fancy, Cats USA, Critters USA and Ferrets USA. To learn more about her work, visit stacynhackett.vpweb.com.