Cats can be very vocal creatures! Sometimes, they’re simply letting you know they need something, or perhaps they just like to hear themselves talk. A few breeds are anecdotally known for being a bit more vocal, such as Siamese cats.
If your cat starts meowing a lot suddenly, however, it could indicate a problem. It could be something silly, but excessive meowing and yowling could point to something more serious.
The 6 Reasons Your Cat Is Meowing a Lot Suddenly
1. Seeking Food
Cats are highly food-motivated. If your cat is suddenly meowing around feeding time, it’s really just a demand to feed them. While your instinct may be to give in immediately, it’s important to avoid reinforcing this behavior. Make your cat quiet down to get food, and avoid offering treats when they meow excessively.
Similarly, some cats learn to meow to get table food from you or a family member. By giving in to the demand, you’re creating a situation in which your cat knows to meow and yowl until they get what they want. Resist!
However, it’s also important to keep in mind that at times, your cat might legitimately be hungry, especially if it’s your first time owning a cat and you’re not sure how much food you should be feeding. Several factors impact your cat’s nutritional requirements. Most commercial pet foods come with a feeding guideline on the label which can serve as a reasonable starting point for a feeding regimen. Further fine-tuning and tweaking of the regimen can be done with your veterinarian’s input.
2. Seeking Attention
Cats may have a reputation as aloof and independent pets, but this is far from reality in most cases. Some cats are more social than others, and with these cats, lack of attention can prompt behaviors like excessive meowing. This is particularly true if your kitten was fostered by a person at a very young age (younger than 8 weeks).
Consider if your cat has a point. Have you been working a lot lately? Or maybe you just got back from a long vacation? In these cases, it’s possible that the meowing will subside once your cat readjusts to the routine. If it continues, or you spend more and more time away, consider getting another pet as a companion to your cat. If that’s not an option, interactive toys, an occasional pet sitter, and more one-on-one time with your cat can help it feel more loved and bonded.
3. Pain or Illness
If the meowing comes out of nowhere, it could indicate more than a behavioral issue. Several diseases can cause signs like hunger, pain, or thirst, which may prompt your cat to meow to get what they need. As kittens, this is how they tell their mother they need something so that behavior can carry over to adulthood when they’re not feeling well.
Some conditions directly cause meowing or excessive vocalizations, including issues with proper litter box use, an overactive thyroid, and even progressive issues such as osteoarthritis. It’s best to schedule an exam and have your vet determine or rule out underlying medical conditions.
4. Expressing Stress
Cats that are stressed out may opt to vocalize more. The stress could be caused by any number of things, including a new pet or baby, a move to a different home, the loss of a family member, or conflict with other pets or people.
The best way to correct this issue is by identifying the source of the stress. This isn’t always easy. For example, your cat may be feeling stressed by a neighborhood stray that taunts it from the window. You may not know what’s happening, so you could misjudge the actual source of the stress. A cat behaviorist can help you identify the possible stressors and make modifications to make your cat more comfortable.
Like people, cats can suffer from dementia or cognitive dysfunction as they age. As the disease progresses, your cat may vocalize for no obvious reason. This could be caused by confusion about its surroundings, anxiety, or any number of causes.
Cats with cognitive dysfunction may experience disturbances in their sleep cycle, which can sometimes lead to increased vocalization at night. Speak with your vet about the signs you’re observing.
If your cat is intact (not yet spayed or castrated/neutered), the mating period can bring a lot of noise. Females tend to become vocal during heat cycles, and males will often yowl when they smell a female in heat nearby. With multiple cats in one household, not to mention outdoor strays near your home, the meowing and yowling can drive you mad.
Spaying and neutering will not only prevent these behaviors, but it can help with other behaviors like marking or roaming in search of a mate. Spaying and neutering also prevent some reproductive cancers or infections.
Why Do Cats Meow?
Domestic cats meow as a form of communication. They don’t often meow at each other, which means that meowing is a learned behavior to address their human servants.
In the wild, cats are primarily solitary; though they may sometimes form colonies known as a clowder or glaring, they still spend a large portion of their day on their own. Cats communicate with each other using a myriad of body language cues, scents, and sounds (other than meowing). Often, such forms of communication are used simultaneously.
As kittens, they sometimes use a very high-pitched meow (as a stress call) at their mother to say they’re hungry, cold, injured, or uncomfortable in some way. Domestic cats hold onto this behavior into adulthood, while feral cats will typically outgrow it in the absence of much human interaction.
It is believed that domestic cats have adapted to meowing at humans to solicit attention, food, and other necessities from them. It’s possible that cats learn at an early age that meowing gets something from their owner. For example, a kitten may meow and promptly get their breakfast or dinner. Now, even as an adult, that cat knows that meowing gets results.
This can be cute (or annoying, at times), but it’s a useful tool to identify a problem. Sure, cats are manipulative and could be using meows and yowls to get what they want, but it could be for a good reason. Maybe your cat is trapped somewhere, needs water, or is struggling with some kind of pain or discomfort.
Regardless of the reason, it’s important that you don’t punish your cat for meowing. Hitting, yelling at, or spraying your cat with water won’t do much to prevent meowing, and if the meowing is caused by stress or pain, that’s only making matters worse.
Similarly, avoid giving in to your cat. Now, if your cat is trapped in a room and crying, by all means, let them out. But if your cat is meowing to get your attention or get food (barring medical issues), giving in only teaches your cat to become louder or more obnoxious until they win. Always reward polite, quiet behavior.
Cats use a variety of sounds to communicate their needs, from hissing and screeching to meowing and purring. If your cat becomes excessively vocal all of a sudden, it could be a sign that something is amiss. Whenever you notice a behavioral change like this, be sure to seek the advice of your vet to rule out any medical causes.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels