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Kitten and adult cats meow for different reasons

“Meeeeow!”

That could mean “good morning”, “I think it’s breakfast time”, or “it’s been long I stretched out on your laps, make way will you?”

Your cat can vocalize in many different ways depending on how she feels at the moment or what she wants.

However, if your cat is vocalizing so often and loud enough to be a nuisance, then something is up but what is it? What message is your cat passing across?

What counts as excessive vocalization?

There’s no universal definition for excessive vocalization. For instance, what I consider “excessive” depends on my experience with cats, my tolerance level, and the inconvenience caused. And, this will be different between individuals. 

For example, a hungry cat meowing loudly for her meal may be more tolerable than if the same cat meows in the middle of the night for no apparent reason.

9 possible causes of excessive vocalization.

There are many reasons cat meow, however, the reasons change as they grow from kitten to adult cats. Young kittens will meow for two or three reasons: they’re cold, scared, or hungry. As they grow older, they use yowling, growling, and hissing to communicate with humans and other animals around them. Here are some reasons cat vocalize: 

1. Medical Illness.

Cats (and dogs) are stoic creatures and will hide pain or illness until they can’t bear it anymore. One way your cat will let you know that her system isn’t running smoothly is by meowing and showing disinterest in food. 

Constant meowing or yowling could be a sign of UTI, kidney disease, or an overactive thyroid. What these conditions have in common is pain. Injuries, internal bleeding, and inflammations can also prompt excessive yowling.

Another health issue that might be plaguing your cat is hyperesthesia syndrome. This is a condition where a cat gets wild-eyed like she’s hallucinating. Symptoms of hyperesthesia syndrome include mood swings, sudden obsession with self-grooming often leading to hair loss, rippling on her skin as if something unseen is hurting her, and loud meowing or yowling. 

If you notice anything that seems suspicious, then you should consider a trip to the veterinarian.  

2. Your cat might be horny (aka. in heat).

Is your cat over 5 or 6 months and is un-spayed/neutered? He/she might be in heat.

Cats, especially females, in heat are eerily loud and sound as if they’re in pain. They do this to attract males. Plus, they’re usually very affectionate during this period and have this sway-back posture when you pet them near the rump. 

The males can be super-noisy too when they detect a female in heat nearby. Getting your cat ‘fixed’ often solves this problem. Plus, your cat won’t be contributing to the feline overpopulation problem. Talk to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your cat.  

3. Cat is hungry, thirsty, or the litter box needs attention.

Cats can be very vocal when it’s time for them to eat – usually their time. This is one reason most owners are forced awake in the middle of the night.

If you find yourself being followed around by your cat and she’s meowing like a kitty on a mission, consider getting an automatic feeder.  An automatic feeder that dispenses food at preset intervals will teach your cat to yowl at the feeder and not you.

Is hunger the reason your cat wakes you at night? Now you know what to do if you want to enjoy your precious sleep.  

While you’re at it inspect the water bowl to ensure the water there is enough and debris-free. A better alternative is to get a quiet water fountain for your cat. Water fountains improve cat hydration levels, which helps prevent kidney problems and UTIs. 

Is the litter box clean? Cats have a very good sense of smell. If the litter box is full or unclean, they’ll just soil the floor next to it. Check our guide on how to get rid of litter box odor in the house.

4. Stressed cats meow a lot!

Cats, like humans, can handle a certain level of stress without needing external help.

However, if your cat is meowing a lot after moving to a new house, a new addition to the family or a family member is no longer available, that’s because she feels overwhelmed by the changes.  

That’s your cat letting you know that the changes do not sit well with her.

Except you are very perceptive and understand your cat’s personality, this will fly over your head – or in your ears as nagging. 

Only when you’ve identified the stressor(s) will you be able to stop the meowing.  

5. Loneliness or boredom.

Most people assume that only dog owners have to deal with separation anxiety. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. Cats get separation anxiety too. 

Cats that have a strong bond with their caregivers are vulnerable to boredom or loneliness in their absence. The same can be said of cats that spend too many hours alone. 

Just because cats give off the “I won’t miss you!” vibe doesn’t mean they don’t do so. Everyone, cats inclusive, need mental and physical stimulation of some sort. 

If you know that won’t be available for a large chunk of the day, consider getting a pet sitter to drop in during the day. Or you can get some interactive cat toys to keep your cat occupied while you’re away.

Another simple, yet effective tip is to place a bird feeder outside a window so she can watch the birds come and go.  

6. You have a senile cat.

Cats, like humans, do become confused, scared, and forgetful as they age.

Feline cognitive dysfunction or dementia often makes a cat yowl or meow her frustration out loud. Disorientation, becoming more irritable, loss of coordination, incontinent, and altered sleep pattern are common signs of a declining cat. 

If this is the case, you can help her enjoy the remainder of her life by leaving a light on at night if that’s when she yowls or bumps into objects.  

I recommend visiting the vet if your cat is showing symptoms of cognitive dysfunction. The vet will prescribe medication to slow the process and improve her life.

7. Your cat wants attention.

When cats want something, it’s never a request but a command. 

“Pet me now!”, “Feed me, now!”, “Make room on your lap for me, now!”

They don’t call them ‘Boss’ for nothing. However, it’s not every time you have to give in to their demands. 

It’s okay for your cat to demand your attention, but you can teach her to keep quiet before receiving it. 

Do not pet or feed her until she’s quiet. If she keeps meowing, walk away until she calms down – easier said than done, I know.  While at it, make sure to spend enough time with your cat every day.

With time she’ll get the message that constant yowling/meowing doesn’t get her the desired result and the behavior will disappear.   

8. Open up, let me in!

This is every cat owner’s least favorite behavior to deal with, especially when you are forced out of bed. 

Does your cat keep meowing from the other side of the door, in the middle of the night? Then you have no choice but to teach her the appropriate time to wake you

9. I’m royally pissed!

There are numerous reasons for aggressive behavior in a cat – and, of course, ways to deal with aggressive behaviors. However, if a cat has to yowl out her agitation (and often), then you should treat it as a serious issue before someone gets scratched!   

How can you deal with excessive vocalization?

You can definitely stop your cat from talking your ears off without resorting to ear muffs – that might work though. But before we get into what you should do, I’ll show you what many cat owners attempt which you shouldn’t.

Common mistakes when dealing with excess vocalization.

1. Punishing the cat.

I’m not a supporter of behavioral training that relies on punishment to achieve the desired outcome. 

Do not punish your cat (or any animal in your care) for unwanted behavior. Spraying cats with water or hitting them is not effective. Even if they work, it won’t be long until the cat resumes the behavior.

In the long run, these actions make your cat distrust or associate negative feelings to you. The best course of action is to deal with the underlying problem.

Getting to the root of the problem is always the best course of action.

2. Ignoring without finding out the cause.

I know, most times it seems like a cat is yowling for no reason. However, there’s always a reason for the yowling. Without addressing the underlying cause, you’ll end up bearing the pestering behavior longer than necessary.

Before you ignore your cat (if she’s meowing for attention) make sure to check and deal with any underlying cause. Is the litter box dirty? Fix it. They’re tired of drinking from a bowl? Get a quiet water fountain. The cat can’t get out of a room or box? Help her out. 

3. Yelling back at the cat.

On a serious note, what do some pet owners think they’ll achieve by yelling at their pet? 

Yelling at a dog that keeps barking at night or a cat that just won’t stop meowing is counter-productive. That’s because the animal doesn’t understand you, and they simply think you are joining them in the “fun activity”. 

Aside from that, you’re stressing yourself (and vocal cord) to yell at an animal that is meowing or barking without stress. Don’t do it!

4. Giving in to every demand.

Now, here’s when it is okay to ignore your cat. 

If she’s meowing excessively just to get your attention, she’ll continue doing that for as long as it’s effective. If she always gets her toy, meal, water, or your full attention as soon as she starts meowing, guess what? You’ve taught her that meowing is the “correct” way to ask for what she wants.

So, just stop it! 

You’ll be tempted to give in to the cat’s demand because she’s meowing louder than ever. But trust me, if you just hold your ground she’ll cut it out. 

Only reward her when she’s quiet, else ignore – if there’s no discernible cause for the meowing.  

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The correct way to deal with excess meowing!

1. Consult your vet. 

Are you unable to pinpoint the exact reason why your cat keeps meowing? I suggest you take up the issue with your vet. Your veterinarian will look for underlying medical conditions, and if any is found, they’ll prescribe medications to deal with the problem. If the meowing was caused by an illness, then that should be the end of it.

2. Provide physical and mental stimulation (aka. entertainment) for your cat. 

If the vet declares your cat fit, then you need to provide more physical and mentally stimulating play sessions for your cat. 

You can adopt a second cat so they can keep each other company. However, if this isn’t viable, you can consider adding a cat condo, an automatic cat laser pointer, or an interactive cat toy

3. Set up a smart feeder for your kitty. 

A smart feeder like the Trixie Activity is the way to go if you want to provide physically and mentally stimulating meal times. 

To you, it may seem like you’re making your cat work for her food. But in reality, she’s having fun because her instincts to play, hunt, and pounce will have free reign! While at it, you have to provide enough, clear drinking water. And there’s no better way to do that than to get a quiet water fountain.

Conclusion.

Many a time, a cat will meow excessively for 1 or 2 of the reasons listed above. However, there are instances where the reasons for a cat’s meow cannot easily be understood. Maybe she doesn’t like your new glasses, the TV show isn’t eye-CATchy, or it could be that the sky is blue. 

It’s true, they make a variety of distinctive sounds in different circumstances with varying meanings. However, the one thing that’ll help you figure out what the issue is, is by studying the circumstance in which your cat meows. 

Trust me, learning cat language can be fun. 

Good meow my friend. See?