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Why Do Cats Meow at Night? (2022) 12 Reasons

If you’re a cat parent to a kitty that meow’s throughout the night, you may be concerned about this behavior or simply fed up with getting poor sleep. Otherwise known as night vocalization or night-calling, these midnight symphonies are not uncommon behavior. You’re not alone as many cat lovers are dragging themselves out of bed to quiet a feisty feline.

Either way, when it comes to our fur babies, it’s best to rule out any troublesome causes and rest easy at night knowing they are healthy and happy. So how can you ensure that both you and your cat can have sweet dreams again? Let’s find out.

grey kitten meowing at night

Why do Cats Meow at Night? 12 Reasons

Much like a human baby, a cat’s nighttime vocalizations are their way of signaling a need like hunger, thirst, loneliness, or even pain. Once you’ve found the root issue causing the cries and nighttime fussing, you’ll find a suitable solution quite easily.

However, these should never replace a vet’s expertise. Much like us, our kitties could be crying from illness or pain. Once these are ruled out, consider some of the tactics below to curb the complaints.

1. Old Age

Aging affects us all, human or animal, and cats are unfortunately no different. As they age, they suffer a few setbacks in their brains, and disorientation is one of them.

grey scottish fold cat with amber eyes staring

When it comes to the effect of aging on a cat’s brain, CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome) is directly related. This syndrome can produce a variety of symptoms, one of which is meowing at night.

If your cat is a senior citizen and you suspect this to be the case with them, then seeing a vet for a decisive diagnosis is best.

black and white cat with mouth open

As they become more and more disorientated, it’s not uncommon for geriatric cats to wander their home and cry, particularly at night. The excessive meowing may also intensify as their hearing diminishes.

2. Mating Behavior

Love is in the air! It’s no secret that male and female cats prowl and yowl when it’s time to mate. Female cats who are in heat make noise to let the boys know they’re available for mating.

two tabby kittens asleep

And male cats try to gain a female’s attention with verbosity.

This is a natural process, but if kittens are not in your future plans, then it’s strongly advised that you get your male and female felines neutered.

white cat with mouth open

This will not only prevent unwanted kittens but put the loud yowling sounds to an end.

3. Medical Condition

If your kitty isn’t feeling well, they may roam the house and vocalize their distress while trying to find a comfortable place. A variety of illnesses, including hyperthyroidism, can cause a cat to feel restless, irritable, thirsty, or hungry. They often deal with this discomfort by wandering the house and meowing.

Veterinarian listening to cat's heart

Consulting a vet to get a health check-up is wise. This is because excessive vocalization can be a sign of illness. However, rather get a professional opinion before worrying unnecessarily.

Cat in a veterinary clinic hairdresser doing beauty care

4. Their Litter Box is not Up to Scratch

A dirty litter box could certainly be the reason for a whining kitty. Cats prefer a fresh and clean litter box when they go to do their business. Scooping it nightly before bedtime might be a good routine to establish.

kitten in pink litter box

Aside from daily and nightly scooping, their box should be dumped every week and washed thoroughly with a safe, environmentally friendly litter box cleaner.

A glistening ablution corner will go a long way towards keeping your furry friend happy and quiet at night.

cat in small green litter box

5. Lights or Sounds are Disturbing Their Sleep

Your pet may be complaining throughout the night because of an annoying visual or audible disturbance. This can include light filtering through somewhere obscure, LED lights or computer screens, and laptops that haven’t been shut off or closed.

white cat on couch with popcorn

Cats also have incredibly sensitive hearing. They can hear sounds of up to 64,000HZ (while humans hear around 20,000HZ and dogs 45,000HZ), so you may not even hear what’s bothering your kitty at first. A closer inspection is a good idea.

khao manee wearing collar

6. They are Feeling Neglected

Some cats cry at night out of loneliness, boredom, or anxiety. As independent as these felines can be, they also rely on interaction and companionship.

This bonding may have fallen by the wayside, especially if you have a busy schedule or you’ve been at work all day. Giving your kitty plenty of playtime and affection before bed is a sure way to keep them happy.

tabby cat on owner's shoulder

By incorporating some one-on-one time, you ensure they go to bed less lonely or stressed. This also means they’re less likely to find an inconvenient time to tell you about their unhappiness, like in the middle of a REM cycle.

white napoleon with colourful toys

Lavishing them with love should be fun, right? So grab some cat toys and get ready to romp.

7. They Feel Trapped Inside

No one wants to get out of a warm bed to soothe their crying kitty by letting them roam outside. Specifically, outdoor cats may start having pent-up frustration if they are not properly stimulated both physically and mentally.

When it comes time for you to turn in, they may feel a touch hard done by and commence vocalizing it at all hours of the night.

tabby siberian with mouth open

If your cat is used to spending its time outdoors, it may end up feeling trapped when spending the night inside.

Letting your cat out for short periods as long as it’s safe to do so – will give them a chance to expel some energy outside or even settle their curiosity.

ginger tabby with very fluffy tail outside on a lead why do cats meow at night
Who wouldn’t chase this tail?

8. They’re Looking for Attention

This reason should only be considered if you’ve already ruled out medical reasons and you’ve ensured their needs are being met. This night-time vocalizing could simply be a way to get your attention.

The best way to handle this is to refrain from responding to your cat’s night-time meowing. If your cat meows back at you do your best to ignore it.

siamese cat with owner in bed

Cats can easily form habits that are undesirable if not tended to. It reinforces their bad behavior if they incessantly meow at night and see they’re rewarded with a neck scratch from their beloved human parents.

As hard as it may be to ignore your cat baby’s cries, they need to learn that no amount of unnecessary meowing will get you out of bed. Is this guaranteed to work?

tabby cat growling why do cats growl

Most likely yes, but it may take a few weeks so stick with it and don’t expect immediate results. In the meantime, earplugs will become your best friends while the caterwauling continues.

9. Breed Tendencies

While cats are cats, they can also be extremely unique in their ways and tendencies. It’s important to know what breed your furry friend is so that you can be best equipped with what their personalities, behavior, and character traits are like.

wedge siamese cat
wedge siamese cat

Some cat breeds, such as Siamese and other oriental cats, may be more inclined to excessive vocalization behavior. It’s not unusual to see particularly active behavior in these kitties either.

chocolate points siamese cat.
chocolate points siamese cat.

You’ll see them roaming the house, and chattering to themselves or anyone who will pay attention.

10. Their Body Clock Needs Resetting

Cats are nocturnal creatures which means nighttime is when they shine. They are also active around dawn and dusk, which is not ideal for us sleeping humans.

So while they are naturally wired for activity during our slumbering hours, it is possible, with a bit of patience and diligence, to reset their body clocks in order to suit your snoozing schedule better.

tabby cat asleep on bench

How can we do this though? Active play is the way to go. Provide your kitty with stimulating toys while you are away or play with them in between nap times.

This will help your kitty stay alert during the day. When night falls, it’s time to pull out all the stops. Schedule a hearty play session with your feline friend to further tire them out.

Playing tabby cat in white basket with toy. Studio shot against grey.

Following this raucous time with their evening meal also makes it easier to push dinner time back by a bit, reducing any crying over a midnight snack later.

Structured mealtimes, rather than allowing them to freely grace throughout the day, go a long way towards creating routines and healthy behavior.

11. They’re Asking for Essentials

A simple factor to rule out is whether their bowl is filled up with fresh water before you turn in. Middle-of-the-night meowing could be your cat’s way of saying they’re hungry or thirsty.

light coloured cat eating food from its bowl

However, once they’ve had their evening meal around 9 pm, their nighttime crying for food should end. Be sure to invest in high-fiber cat food and even some high-quality cat treats to ensure they remain satiated for longer.

tabby cat mouth open and tongue out in front of food bowl

We still want to eliminate any crying out at 3 am for a drink of water though, so keep an eye on those water bowl levels before bed.

12. Change of Environment

Lastly, a common cause for nighttime moaning may simply be that your cat is having trouble adjusting to a new environment. Cats can get quite stuck in their ways and if those routines are disrupted or uprooted it can result in some protesting from their side.

grey cat in beige cat bed

If you’ve moved houses or even had some lifestyle changes like new pets introduced to the home, some meowing from your feline is totally normal.

Perhaps try to ease them into any drastic changes and try to keep certain elements in their immediate surroundings the same. This could be something like their cat bed or their favorite toys.

tabby kitten plays with colourful toy

These familiar objects and scents may help soothe them during the adjustment period.

Final Thoughts on Why Your Cat Meows at Night

Don’t allow proper sleep to become a thing of the past or a distant memory. If your four-legged companion is preventing you from catching those Z’s then there are plenty of channels to investigate in order to solve the mysterious meows.

There’s no need to be tortured throughout the wee hours of the morning. All in all, if you’ve ruled out medical issues or ailments, you needn’t worry or lose sleep over the other possibilities. Most issues can be rectified quite simply.

And remember, your feline babies are more resilient than you think – after all, cats always land on their feet.

tabby cat with mouth open and drool

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