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What is Meowing?

Meowing is a cat’s normal means of communication. Kittens will meow to alert their mother that they are hungry or cold. Adult cats can meow a little or a lot to tell us about a variety of things. Meowing can be as simple as your cat needing something from you, or complaining about something she doesn’t like. A cat who meows incessantly may be having a problem, such as stress, confusion, or even a medical issue that is causing her discomfort. Reasons your cat may meow include:

  • Greeting
  • Seeking attention  
  • Asking for resources 
  • Attracting a mate 
  • Stress 
  • Boredom or loneliness 
  • Needs medical attention 
  • Mental confusion

Why Meowing Occurs in Cats

The reason your cat is meowing depends on what your cat needs or feels.

Greeting 

Your cat is happy to see you, and may meow a greeting when you arrive home. She may also greet you in the morning, if she bumps into you in the house, or when you talk to her. This is often a delightful meow, and one you should enjoy.

Seeking Attention

Unlike many of their wild counterparts, domestic cats are social animals and enjoy the attention you give them. Your cat may meow to get you to pet her, to play with her, or just to spend time with her. 

Asking for Resources 

Your cat may become rather noisy when she needs food or water, even going so far as to wake you in the morning so that you can feed her. She may want her food, or her treats or catnip when she sees you near them. Meowing alerts you to her needs, and she may get more insistent if she doesn’t get what she wants. Whether that is food or to be let outside and then back in, she is communicating a need for something that only you can do for her.

Attracting a Mate

Though cats who are ready to mate more often yowl, some can meow more incessantly when that time is near. Female cats in heat can be noisy when they are seeking a male, while the males become vocal when they smell the females.

Stress

Stress can cause lots of changes in animals, including increasing your cat’s meowing. Many factors can contribute to stress, such as a move, a new pet or baby, or a change in the daily schedule. Even an animal hanging around outside the house can cause your cat to get anxious, increasing her vocalization.

Boredom or Loneliness

Cats who are left alone can experience loneliness or boredom. This can also affect cats who have lost a companion. Your cat may just need some new interactive toys or a new friend to make the days without you more fun and exciting.

Needs Medical Attention 

While many cats can be quite vocal because they are just downright talkative, some cats are trying to tell you that something is wrong. Your cat can increase her meowing if she doesn’t feel good, or is experiencing pain. Many conditions and diseases can cause her discomfort, such as thyroid or kidney disease, so it is best to get her checked out.

Mental Confusion

As cats age, they can suffer from cognitive dysfunction, disorientation, dementia, and other age related problems, such as a decrease in hearing or vision. If your cat becomes confused or lost, she may meow anxiously trying to make sense of where she is, and where you might be.

What to do if your Cat is Meowing

If your cat is excessively meowing, first try to figure out if she wants something you can provide, such as food or attention. If her basic needs are met, and she is still meowing more than she usually does, you may want to take her to the veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will ask you questions about how she meows, when she meows, and any other symptoms or behavioral changes you may have noticed, as these can help lead to a reason for the increase in vocalization. Your vet may run several tests to determine if there is a physical reason for the meowing. If a condition or disease is found, treatment appropriate to the problem will be recommended. Age related mental confusion can be treated with medication and environmental changes that can help your cat during confusing moments, such as nightlights. 

If a medical reason has been ruled out, your cat is likely having a behavioral issue. For many cases, behavior modification can be used. If your cat meows too much for attention, wait until she is silent before you give her that attention. If your cat cries for food, feed her on a set schedule and not when she cries for it. You may install a cat door to stop the inside-outside meowing, or consider just keeping your cat indoors all the time. Spaying or neutering your cat can stop the meowing when a female is in heat. 

If your cat is bored, has lost a companion, or is stressed out, try spending more quality time with her. Playing, grooming, and relaxing together not only strengthens your bond, but also gives her the attention she may need. Buying interactive toys, putting bird feeders near windows, or getting another cat may also be ways to help her. Using products with cat pheromones and certain medications can help to reduce her stress.

Prevention of Meowing

Preventing a cat from meowing is not only impossible, but not healthy. Cats need to meow, just like we need to talk, to communicate their wants and needs. To prevent a medical problem from causing an overabundance of meowing, be sure to take your cat in for routine check-ups to catch any conditions or diseases before they become too serious.

Cost of Meowing

The cost of treating excessive vocalization can range, depending on the underlying cause. While treatments for stress and age related issues such as dementia and glaucoma can cost between $100 to $500, more serious issues can be much more costly to treat, such as kidney failure that can range up to $2000.