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Does Your Cat Meow at Night? Vet Explains Why

Kittens meowing at night can be amusing and annoying. If they are very young and recently removed from their mom, it is normal for them to be noisy at first. As your cat grows, frequent meowing at night can still be a natural form of feline communication or a sign that something is wrong. This article examines why your cat may meow during the night, when to be concerned about it, and how to remedy the problem so you and your furry feline can get a good night’s rest.

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Why is my cat suddenly meowing so much at night?

You may notice your cat is suddenly meowing more than usual at night. It may be something as simple as an outside distraction, such as an animal hanging around outside or the wind. These behaviors are typically temporary, but if your cat persistently meows at night, there could be a medical or environmental cause. Below are situations that may cause excessive night meowing.


  • Nocturnal nature. Cats are typically nocturnal, active during dawn and dusk. This is called crepuscular, and this behavior comes from their wild ancestry. Their ancestors hunted at dawn and dusk to avoid predators and catch prey. While your domesticated cat no longer needs to do this, the behavior remains within them.
  • Hunting instincts. Although you cater to your cat, their hunting instincts remain fierce. It’s not unusual for cats to pretend to hunt throughout their lives. This may involve chasing toys or imaginary prey, and when they cannot realize their ambitions, they may vocalize their frustration.

Hunger or thirst

Consistent with their crepuscular disposition, cats may prefer to eat much of their food at night. You should always have fresh water for your cat, so thirst shouldn’t be a problem. However, they could become hungry if they don’t eat enough before bedtime, leading to excessive night meowing.

Seeking attention

Contrary to the myth that cats aren’t affectionate, they are social animals. They love to be with their owners and interact with them. When you’re sleeping, they may meow to get your attention or engage in cat trilling. This behavior appears more common in cats left alone during the day. If your cat won’t stop meowing, this could be why.

Medical problems

  • Pain. Many owners think of pain first if they hear excessive meowing. While this could be the case, it’s not common. Cats most often conceal pain by hiding and not eating. The most typical exception to that is urinary blockage. If your cat, especially males, repeatedly goes to the litter box and cries, it’s a medical emergency.
  • Cognitive dysfunction. Similar to dementia in people, senior cats can suffer from cognitive dysfunction. Confusion can lead to increased vocalization, especially at night. If you suspect this, consult your veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis and help with treatment. Senior cat care can be more challenging but very rewarding.
  • Deafness or blindness. These are more common in older cats. The inability to hear or see can disorient a cat, especially at night when there’s no light, causing your cat to become more vocal.
  • Hyperthyroidism. A common condition in cats over age eight, an overactive thyroid gland affects the body, leading to restlessness and a need for activity. This, in turn, can result in cat nighttime vocalization.
  • High blood pressure. Cats can have hypertension just like people. Often, in cats, it's secondary to kidney disease.

Environmental considerations

  • Changes in routine. Cats like consistency. Moving to a new house or rearranging the furniture can upset their sensitive habits. Adding a new pet to the household or a change in your schedule can cause significant stress and anxiety, which can lead to an increase in nighttime vocalization.
  • Boredom. If your kitten has nothing to do during the day, nighttime may bring a need for activity, resulting in meowing. Nighttime boredom in cats is understandable.

Mating behavior

  • Unspayed females. Nothing can cause a flood of meows more than a female cat in heat. They meow loudly and repeatedly to attract a mate, which can be pretty unsettling for the cat and you.
  • Unneutered males. Unneutered male cats will do the same, especially if they sense a female in heat nearby.

How to deal with a cat meowing at night

Fortunately, there are many things you can try to stop your cat from meowing during the night. A little patience and effort can go a long way.

  • Medical problems should be ruled out first. Only after a veterinarian examines your kitty and possibly performs some blood tests should you assume the cause of meowing is one of the other factors we have listed. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to treating any condition and reducing vocalization. For example, if your cat is hyperthyroid, straightforward treatments will stabilize thyroid levels and most likely decrease vocalization. If your cat is deaf, leaving some lights on at night can help.
  • More daytime attention and interactions may help with boredom. Carve out extra time during the day to play and pet your cat. Try to find some of that time in the evening before bedtime.
  • A consistent daily routine can help reduce nighttime meowing. Schedule feeding and interaction times at the same times each day. Your cat likes life to be predictable. Ensure your feline is well-fed before bedtime. Self-feeders can help, but it may not be a good idea if it leads to weight gain. Check that the litter box is clean before bedtime and is in a quiet space.
  • Feline enrichment is a common buzzword these days, and for good reason. Historically, it was thought cats just liked to sleep most of the time, with time out for eating and maybe a little playing. Over the last few years, cat behaviorists have found that not to be the case. Cats get bored, and it can lead to behavior problems, depression, and anxiety. Enriching a cat’s environment is critical. Pet stores now have large numbers of interactive toys (such as Doc and Phoebe's interactive feeders), climbing trees, and puzzle feeders. Ensure your cat has a way to look out windows, offering “cat TV,” which can entertain for hours.
  • Creating a comfortable sleeping environment may help, although cats like to choose their place to settle down. Cat sleep habits vary widely, so it's good to give them options, including one near you.
  • The use of calming products may help. For example, pheromone diffusers, sprays, and collars may help reduce stress and anxiety in your cat.
  • Spaying or neutering your kitten or cat can help significantly. Talk to your vet about the procedures.

Interpreting and resolving excessive cat meowing at night

Young kittens meowing at night can be pretty easy to interpret — they are probably hungry. As they age, understanding what nighttime meows mean can be more difficult. There can be several reasons, including instincts, cat behavior problems, boredom, hunger, and medical issues. Enriching your feline pal’s environment, providing more attention and playtime, and addressing any medical concerns can help significantly control incessant cat nighttime meowing. Ensuring a peaceful night's sleep is comforting to both of you. If you have tried everything and the problem is still not improving, contact your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist for additional insights.


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