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Why Do Cats Meow at Night? Vet-Approved Reasons for This Behavior

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat meowing

Why Do Cats Meow at Night? Vet-Approved Reasons for This Behavior


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are unpredictable animals. One minute, they are snuggling up on your lap, and the next minute, they are trying to scale the bookshelves in your living room. One habit that some cats enjoy or are compelled to do is meowing at night — when all the humans in the house are trying to sleep. Due to the quietness of the house, a meowing cat tends to sound louder than they do during the daytime. If your cat seems to meow frequently at night, you may be wondering why and how to address the annoyance.

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Top 4 Reasons Cats Meow Meow at Night

1. They Are Feeling Frisky or Under Stimulated

One reason that a cat might meow at night is that they are feeling frisky or under stimulated. This is common in kittens because they tend to have a great deal of energy and stay active at night, especially if they did not have an opportunity to exert their energy during the day with toys and interactions with their human family members. Some adult cats might meow at night due to boredom or loneliness too.

The best way to address this problem is to make sure that your cat gets plenty of exercise before your bedtime. Spend half an hour playing with your cat or kitten using interactive toys or a laser pointer, but make sure they don’t get frustrated because they can’t “catch” the laser beam. Alternatively, you can complete a training session or play a game of hide-and-seek. Participating in any activity that stimulates your cat’s mind and body will help them better settle down for the night and minimize the chance that you will be awoken by meowing or yowling in the middle of the night. 

However, if your cat is suddenly yowling and sounding distressed and they don’t usually vocalize overnight or as much, it’s important to get them checked to make sure they are okay. Some sudden illnesses that cause excruciating pain may occur out of nowhere, such as blood clots related to heart failure, causing your cat to yowl and not be able to move their legs. This requires emergency veterinary attention.

2. They Need Reassurance or Want Attention

If a cat feels insecure and needs reassurance, they may start meowing in the middle of the night, calling out to their family members to be that reassurance for them. Cats that are new to the household may do this until they get acquainted with everything.

A cat might also meow at night after moving into a new home with their family members, if a new pet moves in on their territory, or if they have been left alone more often than usual in preceding days. Reassuring your cat during the day with extra snuggles and more interaction time can help ease their feeling of loneliness or insecurities at night.

Cats may also meow overnight if they want more food or they want to be let out (or back in). Meowing is a way of your cat telling you they want something from you, and they want it now, no matter the time. Letting your cat out for the toilet before bedtime may help to prevent this issue, alongside having a litter box available for indoor use. Using a magnetic or microchip cat flap is useful to allow your cat to go out as they please, but only if the outdoor area is safe for them to do so overnight. Plus, it prevents other cats from coming into your house.

cat meowing
Image Credit: M-86, Shutterstock

3. They Are Getting Old

When many cats become seniors, their need for attention intensifies. If they are not allowed to sleep in the room with a human family member, they may spend the night meowing in the living room. They might meow through the night because they cannot get or stay comfortable. Placing a soft bed on a nightstand near your own bed or letting your cat sleep in the bed with you will give them a sense of closeness with you and hopefully help them sleep instead of complaining throughout the night.

They also often suffer from underlying health issues that are causing them pain and discomfort, and this will lead to meowing. Senior cats may also have dementia and cognitive decline, which causes them to become confused, vocal, forget some of their usual routines, leading to toileting outside of their litter box and becoming disoriented in space, as if they are unsure of where they are. All of these signs also occur with many health conditions, which is why your cat should always get checked out by a vet if they are suddenly meowing overnight, particularly if they are older.

4. They’ve Developed a Health Problem

As cats age, they can succumb to kidney and thyroid problems, high blood pressure, arthritis that can make them yowl in discomfort, pain, or confusion during both the day and night. If your cat is talking or crying more than usual, including throughout the night, it is a good idea to schedule a veterinarian appointment for a checkup as soon as possible. If your cat gets a clean bill of health, the nighttime meowing is likely due to other reasons.

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Final Thoughts

This guide should help you narrow down the causes of your cat’s nighttime meowing and figure out how to address the problem once and for all. If you cannot figure out why your cat is meowing so much or your efforts to stop the meowing fail, it’s imperative to contact your veterinarian for expert guidance and advice. What do you think is the most common reason for cats meowing at night? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section.

Featured Image Credit: Sharomka, Shutterstock

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