Why Does My Cat Meow So Much?

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Gray kitten meowing loudly

Are you asking yourself, "Why does my cat meow so much?" Cats communicate through a variety of vocalizations — meowing, purring, chirping, and hissing, among others. They display their unique personalities through these vocalizations, a characteristic most people find endearing. But sometimes these vocalizations can become excessive. Here's what it could mean if your cat meows a lot.

What is excessive meowing in cats?

Excessive cat meowing and other vocalizations doesn't have a strict definition. What is considered “excessive” depends on the tolerance level of the individual listener, which can be influenced by many factors, including prior experience with cats, the type of vocalization, the time of day, and the perceived reason for the vocalization. For example, a cat meowing loudly for breakfast might be more tolerable than a stray cat vocalizing outside your window in the middle of the night.

Is my cat's meowing normal?

All vocalizations are normal; they're how cats communicate with each other and with us. Also, certain cat breeds, notably the Siamese, tend to vocalize more than others.

Normal increases in vocalization occur during mating season when female cats are in heat and male cats compete for access to them. (One good reason to spay or neuter your cats is to eliminate this cacophony.) Increases in vocalization are also common when there are changes in the household, such as a move to a new place or a change from being an outdoor to an indoor pet. In these cases, the increases in vocalization might be transient. 

Why is my cat meowing so much?

The most common causes of cats meowing a lot are attention-seeking (a learned behavior) and medical issues. 

Many cats learn to meow to signal their wish for attention, to go outside, or to be fed. When you give in to your cat’s demands, you’ve just trained them that the way to get what they want is through vocalizing. Once this happens, the cat will continue to vocalize and might even increase the behavior.

Excessive vocalization can also indicate the presence of a medical or more serious behavior problem. Cats might meow excessively when they are in pain or when they have neurological problems or sensory deficits, such as hearing or vision loss or cognitive dysfunction. Anxiety, aggression, frustration, and other behavioral problems can also cause cats to vocalize repeatedly.

How do you stop a cat from meowing excessively?

Treatment for excessive vocalization depends on the underlying problem. If you have a cat who is vocalizing excessively, take them to a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist first so a primary medical or behavioral diagnosis can be made.

If your vet determines that the cause isn’t medical, consider why your cat is asking for more attention. Many cats turn to vocalization because they are bored and aren’t receiving enough stimulation. Increasing your cat’s mental and physical enrichment might eliminate the problem. 

If your cat is vocalizing in the middle of the night, try playing with them close to your bedtime and then feeding them a protein-rich meal, which satisfies cats’ hunting cycle instinct (hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, sleep). This routine might make your cat less likely to wake you up in the middle of the night. You can also leave a food puzzle out overnight to keep the cat's brain busy and tummy full.

If you are providing proper enrichment and your cat is still demanding attention by vocalizing (and medical issues have been ruled out), you must consistently ignore your cat’s vocalization, refusing to respond to any request for attention until the cat is quiet. Typically, cats will initially vocalize more and for longer periods of time before they finally give up. During this time, you must continue to ignore the cat. If you give in, your cat will learn that louder and longer vocalization is the only way to reliably get your attention.

In addition to ignoring the attention-seeking behavior, reward your cat for performing a more appropriate behavior. This behavior could be sitting quietly in front of you, touching you to ask for something, or simply being quiet.