Why does my cat meow at night?
This question plagues many cat owners whose sleep schedules have been disrupted because their kitty gets more vocal once it’s time for bed. As common as this is, it’s not exactly a pleasant experience. Most of the time, cat noises at night are completely harmless—but sometimes, there might be more to it than you think.
Why Does My Cat Meow at Night
Even though much of the way that cats communicate is through body language, meowing is their way of signaling to their owners that something is upsetting them or they need some attention.
Felines are generally not super feisty when interacting with humans, but they’re not afraid to show when they’re in distress. Here’s why that could be happening.
Cats Are Natural Night Owls
So, “why won’t my cat stop meowing,” you ask? The felines are inherently more active during certain hours of the night. Despite being commonly labeled as nocturnal animals, that’s not entirely true. In fact, a more accurate term would be crepuscular, meaning they usually go about their business at dusk or dawn.
Even though sometimes these creatures tend to sync up with their owners’ routines, they generally go back to their roots and are out and about when the rest of the family is asleep. This might be a more common sight for younger felines, as their genetic instincts and body clock are more vigorous, and they need some time to get used to domestic life.
Boredom or Lack of Stimulation
You know how it is—we all get cranky now and then when things don’t go our way, or someone doesn’t respond to our texts. We all have different ways of showing our disappointment, and a cat meowing at night is exactly how you’d know this is the case for a feline.
The key here is to tire your kitty out just before bedtime. Take the time to cater to its needs and keep its mind active. It’s not uncommon for cats to turn to vocalizations in times of loneliness, boredom, and separation anxiety. It’s up to you to mitigate those effects by getting plenty of one-on-one time with your four-legged friend.
Granted, meowing could also signify hunger or thirst, especially if it’s been a while since their last meal. Make sure you have some treats nearby that they can munch on throughout the night.
A Natural Sign of Ageing
Age can catch up with all of us and there’s no reason why cats would be any different. If you’ve had your kitty for a while and it’s only meowing at night, it might just be getting old. As much as we hate to see our pets tip the age scale, it’s a natural and imminent process that happens to all breeds.
As cats age, their brains become disoriented and they may have trouble navigating space and time. This is closely connected to Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, a common condition that affects older felines. Their cognitive decline is marked by a number of abnormal behaviors, including confusion, wandering, dementia, limited interaction with others, and—you guessed it—meowing at night.
A Feeling of Being Trapped
If your cat is crying at night, it might be feeling confined in your home. This is particularly true for outdoor cats that normally have the freedom to roam outside during the day but are brought inside by the time the sun sets.
Not to mention that cats are usually more alert and scan for intruders once it gets dark outside, so they might be apprehensive when you bring them indoors. This change might be upsetting for our furry friends, which is why many begin to meow to express their feelings.
A Mating Call
Many of us have heard cats meowing more frequently during a specific time of the year as a way to attract potential partners for mating. Sometimes, this is a much louder and more dominant sound than regular meowing, which is why the term yowling was coined to describe this phenomenon better.
This is an entirely normal process, and there’s absolutely no cause for concern. The mating period usually lasts from February to October each year, with females experiencing shorter cycles every 2–3 weeks.
Now, this is where things start to get a little tricky. Your cat meowing in the middle of the night could be a sign of thyroid issues. Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, may cause cats to become restless and have excess energy.
This kind of overstimulation of the nervous system makes felines turn to meowing as a way to cope. And because the thyroid is so close to their larynx, you might even notice their meows sounding different or more muffled than usual. If that’s the case, you should head out to your vet to get a proper diagnosis and recommended course of treatment.
Similarly, if your pet’s kidneys aren’t functioning properly, it’s likely to let you know by meowing. In situations like that, their organs aren’t effectively removing toxins from the body, which could imminently lead to a build-up and some severe consequences.
The good news is that you’d likely see other accompanying symptoms to help you confirm that the kidneys are the issue. If your kitty has dull or sunken eyes, uncontrollable bowel movements, increased body odor, lack of appetite, and weight loss, then it might be time to take action and get its kidneys back in shape.
How to Stop a Cat from Meowing All Night
Depending on the cause of your pet’s meowing, you can take appropriate measures to minimize their discomfort and help them settle in for the night. Let’s take a look at some of the few steps you can take:
Set Up a Routine
Like it or not, we’re all creatures of habit. What we’re used to doing daily brings us comfort unlike anything else, and even we’re often uneasy when the time comes to switch things up. Establish a daily routine with your kitty, with enough playtime activities and snuggles as well as some napping and quality me-time.
By the time the evening rolls around, your cat won’t have the energy to meow the whole time, and you can get some well-deserved sleep. You can also implement training cues and ball playtime activities to ease them into the schedule.
Make Older Cats More Comfortable
Old age is certainly not a pleasant time and cats are no different. Apart from the aforementioned cognitive decline, they might experience hearing loss or vision issues. Both conditions can impair their quality of life and make them feel distressed.
Based on your pet’s current condition, your vet might recommend certain eye care products or hearing aids to help improve their symptoms—some owners choose an alternative care such as CBD oil. You can also play your part by keeping your kitty nearby throughout the day. Spending time with the family will help reassure your cat that it’s in a safe and comfortable environment.
Add Some Changes at Home
Since outdoor cats might have trouble being at home for extended periods of time, consider installing a cat flap on your front door. This will give them unlimited access to the outdoors, allowing them to come and go as they please.
This puts some of the control back in their hands—or paws, if you will—and could make them feel more at ease when it’s time to go inside. They can do so on their own accord and stay in for as long as they like.
When Should I Ignore My Cat Meowing at Night
Not giving in to your cat’s antics might be the first step towards finding a solution.
If all other medical conditions have been ruled out and it’s been established that your pet wants nothing more than to get your attention, show them that meowing at night won’t get them very far. Before you know it, they’ll stop using this tactic as a means to spend more time with you.
All in all, most pet parents wondering, ‘why does my cat meow at night?’ can rest assured that it’s likely just a force of habit or some other natural cause rather than an illness. But even so, you should visit your vet just to rule out potential health issues and ensure a happy and healthy kitty for many days to come.