Cats communicate in many ways, from silent stares to affectionate purrs. But one sound stands out among all others – that being their meows and yowls!
As loving pet owners, we often wonder why cats make such unique vocalizations. Is it because they’re asking for food? Or could it be something else entirely?
Is it because they don’t want their owners to go to bed? These are some of the reasons:
Cats may meow out of boredom.
Providing regular playtime, interactive toys, and access to “Cat TV” (such as bird feeders, videos designed for cats, or views outside your window) can help alleviate boredom and reduce excessive vocalization.
Cats are natural hunters and have a strong urge to eat frequently, so they may meow when they are hungry, signaling their need for food.
They love to hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, and sleep.
If they’re not well-fed or not getting enough food, your cat might meow and yowl loudly to request food.
And perhaps your cat has become accustomed to food at a certain hour, and they’re just reminding you that it’s time for dinner!
3. Attention Seeking
Some cats meow to seek attention from their owners.
This could happen when you arrive home from work or if they feel neglected when you’re away.
Ignoring the meowing and establishing consistent routines can help address attention-seeking behavior.
This happens with our cat; when my wife leaves the house, our cat Cleo will start meowing on the stairs by the door, and the same thing happens when we open the door.
Yes, cats experience separation anxiety too:
4. They’re in Heat
If your cat is not spayed or neutered, they may meow and yowl loudly during their breeding season, which typically falls around spring and summer.
Male cats yowl to attract the attention of female cats, while female cats meow and yowl when they are in heat as a way to attract mates and mark their territory.
I have dealt with this before, and let me tell you that it is not a fun experience.
The loud noises your cat makes and peeing all over your house are not worth not spaying/neutering them.
Cats use vocalizations, including meows and yowls, to alert their owners of danger.
If your cat is unable to escape from a threatening situation, they may meow loudly to signal to you that they require help or that their stress level is at maximum.
This could mean that they are scared. Maybe they’re stuck in a tight spot in the house and can’t get out.
My cat gets like this when she locks herself in our clothes, drawers, and closets.
I usually open the drawers and doors for her, only to watch her run off in a hurry!
A cat’s meow and yowl can indicate anxiety.
Changes in the environment, such as the introduction of a new person or pet or moving to a new house, can cause stress that may manifest in vocalizations.
Oftentimes, this can lead to changes in your cat’s behavior, such as refusing to use their litter box or hiding from sight.
My cat displays anxiety when my wife leaves the house or when we all leave the house and return after a while.
7. Stress From Environmental Changes
Recent changes in your cat’s environment can cause stress and can lead to several behavioral changes, one of which is increased vocalization.
Your cat may meow or yowl excessively due to stress-related triggers like the introduction of a new pet, unfamiliar house guests, moving to a new home, or changes to their daily routine.
Cats are creatures of habit, and any changes to their environment can cause them to become stressed and anxious.
If you must make changes in your home and life that might affect your cat, try to make things as comfortable as possible for them.
Use cat-friendly pheromone diffusers and sprays like Stress Stopper to help maintain a calming environment for them.
As your cat grows older, they may become more vocal as a result of age-related cognitive and physical changes.
This is particularly the case if your cat suffers from vision or hearing loss and relies more on vocalizations than other means of communication.
The most fundamental reason behind a cat’s meow or yowl is communication.
Cats learn that meowing gets them what they want from humans, so they reserve this communication technique specifically for interacting with humans.
To connect with their owners, they often use their voices to express their needs and desires.
For instance, if your cat wants to be held or needs attention, they might meow, while a yowl could signal an intense feeling of discomfort or fear.
10. Your Cat Breed is More Vocal
According to Jackson Galaxy, certain breeds, such as Siamese and Oriental breeds, are known to be more vocal than others.
11. No Reason
Some cats may meow without any apparent reason.
It could be a part of their natural behavior or their unique personality.
In these cases, it may be challenging to identify a specific cause or find a solution to stop the meowing.
Trying to distract and divert your cat’s attention from meowing with something like a cat wand may help.
12. Physical or Medical Issues
Excessive meowing and yowling can also be a sign of pain or distress.
Consult a veterinarian if your cat suddenly starts meowing excessively, especially if they have never done so before.
I have noticed this happens to me if I accidentally step on my cat’s tail or paw.
Other physical issues, like experiencing cognitive decline in seniors, can also contribute to increased vocalization.
What to do when your cat meows and yowls
Rule out environmental factors
Sometimes, changes in their environment can cause excessive vocalization.
For example, loud noises, a dirty litter box, or being left alone for too long can stress your cat out, making them meow excessively.
Try to identify any underlying factors in your cat’s environment that could be causing the issue and take steps to mitigate these factors.
Try to keep your cat’s environment as calm and stress-free as possible.
Provide mental stimulation and playtime
Cats are intelligent creatures that need mental stimulation and playtime.
Yowling or meowing could indicate that your cat is bored and seeking attention.
Providing toys such as a cat tree or interactive toys can mentally stimulate your cat, keeping them entertained and less inclined to meow.
Spend time interacting with your cat, play with them, and provide appropriate challenges to stimulate their mind.
Ensure your cat gets enough food
Meowing could be your cat’s way of signaling that they’re hungry and dissatisfied with their food or are having whisker fatigue when they’re trying to eat or drink water.
As far as the whisker fatigue issue, you may need to switch their food to one in wet form and provide them with a shallow bowl.
Ensure that your cat is eating good quality food that meets their nutritional needs.
Also, monitor the amount of food they consume daily and ensure they get enough water.
Feed your cat at appropriate intervals to get them comfortable with the feeding routine.
Give your cat attention and affection
Cats need attention and affection, and meowing could indicate that they’re seeking it.
Spend quality time with your cat, pet them, and give them the attention they require, as this may be the best way to stop excessive meowing and yowling due to their attention-seeking behavior.
However, if you’re concerned that you’re reinforcing bad behavior, consult a vet or cat behaviorist for more advice on the best way to approach your specific cat.
Go to the vet to rule out health problems
If your cat continues to meow or yowl despite being attended to, it could be an indication of possible health problems.
Take your cat to the vet to rule out any medical issues causing them to meow excessively.
Cats suffering from health problems such as hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure often meow continuously.
Cats are excellent at hiding pain or discomfort; excessive vocalization could indicate a medical issue.
Visiting the vet can help you identify the issue and provide appropriate treatment to fix the cause of the meowing, especially when your cat’s meowing is sudden and unexpected.
What not to do when your cat meows and yowls?
When your cat starts to meow and yowl, it’s natural to want to figure out what’s wrong and immediately address the issue.
But, there are some things you should definitely NOT do in this situation.
First and foremost, resist the urge to yell back at your cat. It’s unlikely that they’ll understand you, and it might only make the situation worse.
Don’t ignore your cat’s vocalizations altogether. They may be trying to communicate something important, like hunger or pain.
Also, don’t punish your cat for meowing or yowling.
This behavior is their way of speaking to you, so discipline out of anger can damage your relationship with them.
OK, so just because I couldn’t resist these cute noises, here is another video with Jackson Galaxy showcasing some of the best cat meow sounds.
I thought these were cute:
How much meowing is excessive?
Excessive meowing is something we’ve all experienced as cat owners. But when does meowing become unusual?
First off, let’s acknowledge that some breeds are just chattier than others. Siamese, for example, are known to be more vocal.
However, something may be wrong if your cat’s meowing is uncharacteristic or out of the ordinary.
If they’re meowing more frequently or more loudly than usual, it could be a sign of stress or discomfort.
Monitor their behavior and try to identify what’s causing the excessive meowing.
If you’re still unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and bring your furry friend to the vet.
When a meow isn’t a meow?
Unlike a cat’s typical meows, some cats will make a sound that’s similar to a howl, while others will make a noise that’s more like a yowl.
These noises are often louder, more frequent, and more urgent and serve as a way for cats to communicate with potential mates, letting them know that they’re ready and willing to mate.
If you have an unspayed or unneutered cat, it’s important to be aware of these sounds so that you can take the necessary precautions to prevent unwanted litters but, most importantly, get your cat neutered/spayed.
I used to deal with this when I became a first-time cat owner. After my cat peed all over my piano and broke it, I was convinced to get her spayed.
After I got her spayed, she stopped her yowling, but the odor from her pee she left on my piano, the living home theatre speaker, and behind the couch did not leave without some serious deodorizing.
Getting rid of the cat pee smell would not have been possible without the odor-eliminator products I bought at Live Free Pee.
If you have strong cat or dog odors in certain sections of your house that you want to get rid of, you need to give these a try.
It’s a game changer and was a huge help for our comfort and peace of mind.
Why is my cat meowing while playing?
If your cat starts meowing while playing, don’t be alarmed – it’s actually a fairly common behavior.
Cats are naturally communicative animals, and their vocalizations can indicate a variety of emotions.
While meowing during playtime may simply be a way to express enjoyment, it can also be a sign of frustration or overstimulation.
If your cat’s meowing seems excessive or out of character, it might be worth addressing any potential sources of stress in their environment to ensure their continued well-being.
Why does my cat meow before attacking?
When a cat meows before attacking, it might be that they may be feeling threatened or anxious and are trying to establish dominance.
Another reason is that they are feeling playful and want to engage in some roughhousing.
Still, another theory is that they are trying to communicate their intentions to you.
Whatever the reason behind this behavior, it’s important to pay attention and be prepared when your cat starts meowing so that you can catch the reason why they might be on the attack.
Why do cats meow at each other before fighting?
Experts like Jackson Galaxy believe that cat’s meowing at each other and then fighting is a way for the cats to establish boundaries and dominance.
By meowing loudly and assertively, a cat may be saying, “This is my territory, and I won’t back down.”
Other times your cat could be communicating frustration or fear.
It’s also possible that meowing is just a way of riling up their opponent, like a human trash talker hyping up a boxing match.
In this video, Jackson explains that when kittens play and wrestle with each other, it is usually normal and part of their development.
He mentions that at 10 to 11 weeks old, kittens are still in the critical phase of development, where they learn important lessons through play.
In terms of play fighting, Jackson emphasizes that as long as there is no blood, aggression, excessive hissing, or prolonged fear from either of your cats, it is likely just playful behavior.
He mentions that cats will push limits and test boundaries to learn what is acceptable during play.
They may make noise, growl, and even have short-lived disagreements, but these are generally part of their learning process.
However, Jackson advises keeping an eye on your cat’s interactions and watching for signs that the play is becoming too rough or that one of the cats is genuinely scared.
If one of your cats hides or shows signs of fear, it may be necessary to intervene and redirect their attention to interactive toys.
Interactive toys can provide an outlet for their energy and help guide their play in a positive direction, especially with your more aggressive cat.
Jackson also emphasizes the importance of not letting all their play be dictated solely by each other.
He said that it’s beneficial for you to participate in guiding your cat’s play and providing alternative outlets for their energy.
This not only prevents your cats from hurting each other but also protects valuable items in your house.