Is your cat meowing all night and all day? It really can get on your nerves, ruin your sleep, your wellbeing and even your relationship with your beloved pet. You are not alone as excessive meowing is a very common complaint from our patients who seek a professional cat behaviorist help. In most cases the solution is just around the corner. In this article you are going to learn about possible causes of excessive meowing in cats, and most importantly, how to stop a cat from meowing all night.
Table of Contents
- Why is your cat meowing at night?
- Why does your cat meow in the middle of the night?
- How to stop a cat from meowing at night?
- How do you teach your cat to stay quiet in 6 steps
Why is your cat meowing at night?
Before planning any solution to excessive meowing, you must first find out what causes the problem. It’s normal for a cat to meow on many occasions. If the meowing happens too often, likely something is bothering your cat. Let’s find out what it could be. For many a cat owner, the exact reason may be obvious, while some may not have any idea about why their cats meow so much.
Why does your cat meow in the middle of the night?
Most common causes of excessive moving in cats:
- Attention seeking. This covers a wide group of possible causes, but it also is the most common, because your cat wants attention. There may be different forms of attention, like begging for food, for petting, playing or simply for an acknowledgment of their presence.
- Pain and other medical causes. Does being in pain makes you want to cry? Yes it does, and saying: “Don’t cry” rarely helps. What you really want is for the pain to go away. That will make you smile. Before trying to modify your cat’s excessive meowing, it is wise to visit a veterinarian for checkups. You should understand that cats usually try to mask their weaknesses. This is ingrained as in the wild, weakness is what turns the hunter into the hunted. This explains the cat behavior of hiding their pain or weaknesses. If your cat is meowing due to pain, it may be that the pain is very severe. You can learn to recognize your cat’s pain here.
- Territorial Claiming. Cats can vocalize excessively if their territorial needs are not met. For example, if one of the other cats are blocking your male cats access to a certain area or is creating some form of stress for him. Please note that cats of both genders may be territorial. It’s not only about other cats in your household. Your male cat can also have territorial issues with your kids, dogs, physical objects, and even outdoor cats that they see through a window.
- Hunger and thirst. It’s not the same as begging for food mentioned above. Cats may constantly beg for food for various reasons, and hunger is just one of them. Here we mention the real actual hunger when your cat is not getting enough food. If your cat is not underweight and you are feeding the amount that is listed on package, you can rule this one out. Fresh drinking water has to be accessible at all times too, but you have to remember, if your cat is not drinking enough water, maybe it’s not because they don’t want to, but there may be something wrong with the water, the bowl or the location of the bowl. You can find how to encourage cat to drink more here.
- Sexual behavior. Do male cats meow when they want a partner? Yes, but no one comes anywhere near the female cat cries when she is in heat. In such case you don’t have many options. The number one way to resolve the excessive vocalization is to spay or neuter your cat. The number two option is to try to soothe your cat which will reduce, but won’t eliminate the meowing.
- Neurological causes. Excessive meowing may also be for no reason and exhibited as a compulsive behavior. In such cases a veterinary consultation is recommended.
How to stop a cat from meowing at night?
Now that we have identified possible causes we can work on different treatment options. Remember that you are not looking to stop your cat meowing completely. Meowing is a natural behavior for cats. It’s important to understand that it is not used for talking to each other. Cats mostly use scents and body language to communicate with each other. Meowing in the vast majority of cases is directed towards us humans.
Meowing is a way your cat tells you something. All you have to do is to listen.
How do you teach your cat to stay quiet in 6 steps
IMPORTANT: The below steps are applicable for cats exhibiting attention seeking behaviors and may be useful to helping to reduce territorial and hunger related meowing. If you suspect your cat may be meowing due to pain or other medical causes, please consult with your veterinarian. For territorial cats, spaying and neutering usually go a long way towards reducing if not eliminating the problem.
- Remove the cause of excessive meowing if possible. That is, if your cat is territorial and aggressive towards other cats, make sure you do what you can to reduce the tension. As mentioned above, spaying or neutering your cat will be helpful.
- Increase nutrition. If your cat is underweight which means they are underfed, start feeding an appropriate amount. If your cat is stressed from outdoor cats, try to block the outdoor view or deter foreign cats off your yard. In many cases finding and removing the cause of excessive meowing will be enough to make it stop. However, if the meowing has also become a habit, the below steps may be necessary, as well.
- Ignore your cat’s meowing. What is the easiest way to stop a cat meowing? Giving them what they want. But it’s a very bad solution because your cat will soon repeat the behavior again. This is because you rewarded the meowing. You unintentionally taught them that to get what they want, meow. We recommend that instead of rewarding the undesirable behavior is to ignore your cat’s meows (unless they need something that is important). Don’t even scold or discourage your cat because it’s still attention and attention is a reward. Completely ignoring meowing is the only way to stop it (of course, after you have checked that there is nothing wrong with your cat).
- Provide activity to your cat. Your cat is a natural born hunter and their energy levels are high. If this energy is not expelled, your cat can jump on things and people, destroy your living room or, if you are lucky, just meow all day. The fastest way to get your cat moving is to have two or three play sessions per day. Take a toy on a string or a wick and let your cat chase it to release their hunter instinct. Let them stalk, follow, jump upon, and bite the toy. This more closely mimics hunting to your cat and is what releases the most of your four legged fur baby’s hunting energy. This works very well if done just prior to feeding. If you think you can go for more creative solution, we have a list of several more ways to provide an activity to your cat.
- Provide meals on a strict schedule. This is critical if your cat is begging for cat food all the time. You should (at least initially) provide meals with a strict time table. Set a reminder on your mobile.Try not to fluctuate meal times by more than 15 minutes either way. Your cat wants predictability. Give two to four small meals per day leaving the final meal just before you go to bed. Cats naturally tend to take a nap after a meal.
- Reinforce quiet behavior. If your cat’s meowing ceases but it’s not quite there, you can try to reward your cat’s good behavior when they are quiet. Since it’s very hard for your cat to understand the difference between meowing and being silent, clicker training may be useful here (you can read what clicker training is here). What you want to do is to give a reward every time your cat is quiet for about two minutes. This reward can be a treat or a regular food. In either case, make sure to subtract what you feed from your cat’s daily feeding amount.
The above 6 steps should give you a significant improvement in reducing or even eliminating excessive meowing of your cat. If it didn’t, please consider visiting your veterinarian for finding the true cause of your cat’s meowing. For solutions to other cat mis-behaviors check this page.
Now that you know how to stop cat from meowing all night, you’ll be able to get a better nights sleep.
This way you will be happy and your cat will be happy. And keeping your Pet happy is what we all want.