Cat in a bush meowing

Key takeaway

Meowing is regular behavior for cats in many ways. Cats may meow because they want food or attention, or they may simply want a door opened so they can go outside or move to another room. Excessive meowing can also be a sign that your cat is feeling pain or discomfort. You can talk to your vet about training your cat to be less vocal.

Cats meow for lots of different reasons, so your cat might simply be meowing because they’re hungry or they want your attention. If your cat is constantly meowing, it could be keeping you up at night and bothering you throughout the day. While some amount of meowing is normal, your cat meowing a lot might be a sign of a medical problem or discomfort.

So, why is my cat meowing so much?

The truth is, some cats are just more vocal than others. As long as excessive meowing isn’t coupled with cat anxiety or symptoms of a medical condition, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. That being said, there are ways to train your cat to be less vocal. If you can’t get your cat to quiet down, here’s what you need to know about cats’ excessive meowing.

Why Do Cats Meow?

Cats can’t talk, so they meow to communicate with humans instead. Meowing is a sound cats make that sounds sort of like a cry. In addition to meowing, cats make lots of other sounds. Because cats don’t have facial expressions that are as clear as dogs and people, learning how your cat vocalizes can help you figure out why they’re meowing.

The problem is, it can be tough to know what your cat wants when they’re meowing a lot. As a pet parent, understanding why cats meow is an important part of getting them what they need. Your cat might want food, but they could also be happy; it all depends on whether your cat is purring, meowing, or chirping. Here are some of the sounds your cat may make:1

Types of cat vocalizations

  • Meowing
  • Yowling
  • Purring
  • Chirping
  • Chattering
  • Hissing

What Is Considered Excessive Meowing?

Some cats meow a lot, so it can be tough to decide when your cat is meowing excessively and when they’re simply being a cat. Keep in mind that your cat may simply be more vocal than others before you decide there’s something wrong with them.

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. If your cat is meowing near a door, it may want you to open it. When nothing helps, that’s a sign that your cat may be meowing for some other reason.

If your cat has a sudden behavior change resulting in vocalization make sure to check in with your veterinarian for a physical exam.

Why Is My Cat Meowing So Much?

Now that you’ve figured out whether your cat is meowing excessively, you can focus on the important question: Why is my cat meowing so much? Some meowing is completely normal because cats use meows to communicate. Here are some of the reasons your cat might be meowing.

Reasons why your cat might be meowing excessively

Food

If your cat won’t stop meowing, one of the first steps is to check their food and water bowls. Your cat might be meowing because their bowl is empty, in which case the meowing should stop once you get them what they want.

As a pet parent, it’s important to make sure your cat is getting enough food and water on a daily basis. You can talk to your vet about calculating your cat’s daily nutritional needs and creating a feeding schedule that works for you. Making sure your cat is getting enough to eat is just as important as keeping them from becoming overweight.

In some cases cats learn to meow excessively for food and you might consider an automatic feeder if it's disrupting your sleep

Attention

Cats need plenty of love and attention, so your cat might be meowing just because they want you to pick them up or pet them. If you’ve got a close bond with your cat, you should make sure you’re giving them plenty of attention so they don’t start to feel lonely. Cats don’t just need to cuddle and be petted, either; it’s also crucial to make sure your cat has toys and things to stay busy with.

With positive reinforcement training, you can teach your cat other ways to ask for attention, such as sitting quietly in front of you. Increasing enrichment by incorporating food puzzles and interactive toys may also reduce how much they're meowing at you.

Keep in mind that all cats are different. If your cat doesn’t like to lounge around on the couch with you or get scratches and pets, they may not be meowing for attention. Figuring out why your cat meows is all about knowing your pets.

Loneliness

One of the most common signs of separation anxiety in cats is excessive vocalization.2 As we just talked about, cats can get lonely if you don’t give them enough attention on a regular basis. Cats need love and attention just like humans do, so you should take some time out of every day to pet and play with your cat for a bit. Even simply acknowledging your cat when you walk in the house and giving them a quick pet can help prevent loneliness.

If your cat is meowing excessively, talk to your vet about where to pet a cat and what kinds of toys cats like, and whether giving more attention would be helpful in your cat’s case.

Outside

Cat looking out a window meowing

The spot where your cat chooses to meow can give you a clue as to why they’re meowing excessively. For example, meowing near the food bowl is typically a sign that your cat is hungry. If your cat is meowing near a door, it might be because they want you to open it. This could be a door outside or an interior door between two rooms.

If you don’t like when your cat meows to get outside or leave your bedroom, try installing cat doors or leaving doors open when you can. Cats like to come and go as they please, so your cat is likely to meow if they run into a door they can’t open.

Note: If your cat is vocalizing in their litter box that may be a medical emergency and you should see care from a veterinary professional immediately.

Old Age

While cats meow to get things they want, sometimes they meow as a result of things they’re feeling. It’s not uncommon for cats to start meowing more as they get older, but you may want to take your cat to the vet for a checkup if they’re older and just started meowing more.

Excessive vocalization in elderly cats is a common sign of cognitive dysfunction, a syndrome similar to dementia in people.

Old age can lead to a lot of medical conditions in cats, including conditions that cause pain and discomfort. While these medical conditions could be the reason for your cat’s excessive meowing, your cat could simply be changing as they age. Taking your cat to the vet for regular checkups is an important part of diagnosing things early, especially as they age.

Pain

It’s not always the case, but your cat could be meowing excessively as a response to pain. There are a lot of medical conditions that can cause pain in cats, especially as your cat starts to age. If your cat has suddenly started meowing a lot more than usual, keep an eye out for other symptoms that may give you a better idea of what’s going on.

Your cat might even be meowing because of a minor injury, so make sure you check for any scratches, thorns, or other signs of injuries. If your cat is meowing because they’re in pain, the excessive meowing should stop once they’re better.

Stress

Just like pain can cause cats to meow, stress can too. Cats may get stressed out for lots of reasons, including some of the things we’ve talked about previously. Your cat might be stressed out because of a sudden change in their environment, such as a new human or animal in the house or a move to a new house.

As a pet parent, there are lots of things you can do to keep your cat from getting stressed. Avoid skipping visits to the vet, make sure your cat has a good litter box setup, and give them an uninterrupted mealtime that they can enjoy. You should also watch out for cat panic attack symptoms if your cat has been especially stressed or you recently moved.

Breeding

When you’re trying to figure out why your cat is meowing so much, it’s important to consider whether they’re spayed or neutered. Cats who aren’t spayed or neutered may meow excessively as part of the process of searching for a mate. If your cat isn’t fixed and you don’t want them to have kittens, you should talk to your vet.

Typically, cats are fixed when they’re about 5 to 6 months old. However, adult cats can be spayed and neutered as well.

How to Train Your Cat to Be Less Vocal

Just because your cat has been meowing more than usual doesn’t mean you have to live with it. In fact, training can help quiet your cat down a bit, especially if they’re meowing for no apparent reason. Here are some things you can do to train your cat to be less vocal:

How to train your cat to be less vocal

  • Don’t reward meowing with attention
    • Giving your cat positive or negative attention when their vocalizing may reinforce that behavior.
  • Hire a positive reinforcement trainer
  • Set designated feeding times
  • Use an automatic feeder
  • Install a cat door
  • Get your cat neutered or spayed
  • Increase their enrichment

Keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that go into how noisy your cat is, including their environment. You may need to invest in some toys and install a cat door or two if you want your cat to quiet down. If your cat is still meowing excessively after you’ve followed these steps, you can always consult your vet.

Final Notes

As a pet parent, it can be concerning when your cat starts meowing a lot more than usual. When that meowing is keeping you up at night or making it difficult to take important phone calls at home, it can become a real burden. Cats may meow for several reasons, but excessive meowing can be a sign that they’re stressed or in pain, so you may want to take them to a vet.

If you don’t have time in your busy schedule for vet visits, telemedicine for pets can help. With Dutch, you can schedule an online video chat with a vet in your area. That way, you don’t have to leave your home and get your cat packed in the car for a vet visit. If you can’t get your cat to stop meowing, give Dutch a try and get help from local vets.

References

  1. The Cat’s Meow: Understanding Feline Language. The Humane Society of the United States. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cats-meow

  2. Schwartz, Stefanie. "Separation anxiety syndrome in cats: 136 cases (1991–2000)." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 220.7 (2002): 1028-1033.