Purring and yowling

Discover the different reasons cats meow and what to do if your cat's chattering becomes excessive.

The meow is the cat's method of human communication. Cats can meow for a variety of reasons, including greeting, requesting, and distress. Meowing is an intriguing form of communication because adult cats rarely, if ever, meow to each other but rather only to humans. Young kittens meow to their mothers when they are hungry or cold, but adult cats rarely meow to one another. However, they persist in meowing at humans for the rest of their lives, likely due to the fact that doing so usually results in the desired outcome. Cats also make a sound called a yowl, which is similar to a meow but longer and more musical. While kittens and young cats only meow to one another, adult cats yowl at each other, especially during mating season.

How much meowing is too much? It's not easy to decide, because it's so deeply personal. In some capacity, every cat is predisposed to meow because doing so is an inherent part of their communication repertoire. However, some felines make more noise than their owners are comfortable with. Remember that the Siamese cat, in particular, is known for its loud meowing and yowling.

Why Pets Purr

The most common causes of a cat's meowing are as follows:

  • In order to extend a greeting If you come home to a meowing cat, she will likely greet you by meowing whenever she sees you or hears your voice.
  • This is an attempt to get people's attention. Cats are social animals that thrive when given the opportunity to interact with humans. A pet cat may want to be petted, played with, or even just talked to. There is some evidence that cats who are regularly left alone for long stretches of the day are more likely to meow for company.
  • Soliciting sustenance The majority of cats share a love of food and a demanding nature at mealtimes. Some housecats have learned to meow whenever they hear the door to the kitchen opened, in the hopes that they will be fed. Some of the cats will yowl at you until you get up and make them breakfast. Meowing at humans for food is another learned behavior in cats.
  • Request access to or egress from The cat will typically meow at you to get your attention or express her desires. She'll learn to meow at the door if she wants to go outside. When she's outside and needs to come back in, she'll do the same thing: meow until you let her in. There may be a period of intense meowing at any doors or windows during the transition from an outdoor cat to an indoor only cat. Since this is such a drastic adjustment for a feline, it may take several weeks, or even months, for the meowing to cease.
  • Disorientation, a common symptom of cognitive dysfunction in elderly cats, is often expressed vocally by a meowing. To learn more, check out our piece on common issues faced by senior cats.
  • The quest for a life partner Cats that haven't been spayed or neutered are less likely to yowl. Males yowl to attract females, and females yowl to let them know they're receptive.

Please Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian

Veterinarian attention is warranted for any meowing cat to rule out the possibility of a serious health problem. Meowing can be a symptom of a variety of illnesses that make cats uncomfortable and lead them to act in unusual ways, such as being overly hungry, thirsty, restless, or irritable. Your cat should still be checked by the vet, even if she has a history of meowing for food. Overactive thyroid and kidney disease are common in older cats, and both can cause excessive meowing.

Tips for Making Your Cat Quieter

To stop your cat from meowing excessively, you must first discover why she is doing so. Consider the context of her meowing and make a note of what stops it. For future reference, jotting down the times of day and other circumstances when she is particularly vocal could prove useful. After you've figured out when she's most likely to meow excessively, you can try the following techniques to help her quiet down:

  • You probably won't be able to change things if your cat greets you with a meow; she's just being vocal about how happy she is to see you.
  • The best way to stop your cat from meowing for attention is to show her that you pay more attention when she is quiet. Refrain from giving her any kind of attention, even angry attention, such as yelling at her or touching her. Don't interrupt the silence; wait for it. Stop what you're doing and give her the atention she wants right away Leave the room if she starts meowing again and come back when she's quiet. She will understand if you maintain consistency.
  • You can have a pet sitter drop by during the day to play with and pet your cat if you think she's lonely while you're at work.
  • Stop giving in to your cat's pleading meows for food. Dole out her meals at regular intervals to teach her that pleading for food outside of those times is fruitless. Alternatively, you could invest in a timed automatic feeder. You'll at least have a better chance of her meowing at the feeder than at you. If your cat wakes you up every morning to be fed, this is a great solution, as she can simply sit and watch the feeder until it opens instead of bothering you.
  • Your veterinarian can recommend high-fiber diet foods or supplements for your feline friend if you've recently put her on a diet.
  • Consider leaving dry food out for your cat round-the-clock if she isn't prone to weight gain. High-fiber diet foods help cats feel full without causing them to overeat. First, make sure you get your vet's approval before trying this.
  • The meowing of your cat to be let inside or outside may be a sign that you need to install a cat door so that you aren't constantly playing butler. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises that cats be kept indoors only. You can expect some meowing at the door or window from an indoor-only cat whose routine includes going outside. There's no simple solution here, but if she never goes outside again, she should become acclimated to the indoors and stop meowing as much. To allow her to enjoy the outdoors in safety, you could also construct an outdoor cat enclosure.
  • It's possible that your female cat is in heat if she meows excessively from time to time and she hasn't been spayed. Meowing, rubbing up against you, purring, floor rolling, and increased affection are all signs that your female cat is in heat. From four to ten days, this condition persists. During the breeding season (roughly February–September in the Northern Hemisphere), an unspayed female cat will continue to come into heat every 18–24 days if she is not bred by (has sex with) a male cat. Cats kept indoors may continue to go into heat at any time of the year. Spaying your cat is the best way to stop the loud meowing that occurs during the cat's heat cycle.
  • Your unneutered male cat may be responding to the sound or scent of a female cat in heat if he occasionally meows excessively. For as long as the female is in heat, he will likely pace and meow nonstop. Intact male cats are more likely to engage in excessive meowing, and this behavior can be mitigated by having the cat neutered unless you can completely block his ability to detect females in heat.
  • Make an appointment with your vet if your senior cat has recently begun meowing excessively; she may be suffering from medical issues, sensory loss, or cognitive decline. Her suffering could be eased by medication.

Advice to Avoid

  • If your cat meows, pay attention to her. Except for when you know for sure she's trying to manipulate you by meowing, you should ignore her. Except for those special cases, you should probably worry that something is wrong, like she is trapped in a closet, out of water, or without access to a litter box. Before assuming that she is merely being demanding by meowing at you, make sure that her needs are being met.
  • Please refrain from scolding or hitting your cat if it meows excessively. While she may run away from these punishments in fear, they are not likely to stop her from meowing in the long run. However, they have the potential to make her afraid of you.
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