Excessive Cat Meowing & Crying: Why It Happens & What to Do

A cat exhibiting an excessive cat meowing or cat crying behavior

Cats are known for their vocalizations, and meowing is a typical way they communicate with their pet parents. However, when a cat's meowing becomes excessive or turns into yowling, it can be concerning and even irritating for pet parents, especially if it starts interfering with a restful night’s sleep. 

 In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the reasons behind excessive cat meowing and yowling and offer practical tips on what to do to address this behavior.

What’s in This Guide?

What is Excessive Meowing in Cats?

Excessive cat meowing is insistent and sometimes loud. These commonly occur at night, but they can also occur at any point during the day when your cat is awake. Excessive cat meowing could be driven by a cat’s needs or behavioral issues. In addition, this behavior could be irritating or disruptive in some households.

Finding the root cause of excessive cat meowing is the first step to addressing your cat’s needs or issues and re-establishing harmony. 

A cat that is exhibiting excessive meowing due to hunger

Why is My Cat Meowing So Much?

Cats communicate with their pet parents primarily through cat body language and vocalizations. Cat meowing is just one form of communication, and each meow can convey different messages. 

Understanding the reasons behind your cat's meowing is the first step in addressing the issue effectively. Here are some of the most common reasons why cats cry or meow excessively:

1. Hunger or Thirst

Cat meowing can sometimes be caused by hunger or thirst. This type of meow is often insistent (but not to the point of yowling). The meows can also be accompanied by other gestures such as pawing their bowl or facing where the cat food is stored.

2. Needing Attention

When cats seek attention, they can meow excessively. This behavior gets more consistent when it is reinforced. In addition to meowing, cats may also paw at their pet parents’ arms, lay on their backs, or get in front of laptops. Although some attention-seeking behaviors may be endearing and harmless to many cat parents, poorly timed insistent cat meowing can be inconvenient. 

3. Mating-Related Behaviors (Unspayed/Unneutered Cats)

Unspayed female cats and unneutered male cats may yowl to attract mates. Mating-related cat yowling resembles the sound of a crying cat. This kind of cat meowing is often louder, highly insistent, and often not directed at cat parents. The yowling could be done facing the window or other exits in the house — or upon seeing a cat outside.  Cat yowling can be disruptive and irritating, especially during the night. 

4. Stress or Anxiety

Stressed or anxious cats may meow excessively as a way to cope with their emotions. This type of excessive meowing might be observed after a major change such as the introduction of a new pet, separation from their owners (or favorite person), and other environmental changes.

Excessive meowing that is driven by anxiety or stress in cats can also be accompanied by other behaviors such as excessive grooming, hiding, destructive behavior, and changes in appetite.

A cat that’s exhibiting excessive meowing and hiding which is indicative of stress or anxiety  

5. Pain or Discomfort

Some medical conditions, such as urinary tract infections, dental problems, or arthritis, can cause pain or discomfort in cats, leading to increased meowing or yowling. 

Excessive meowing due to pain is often insistent and can also be accompanied by other behaviors such as limping, changes in breathing, decreased activity, changes in appetite, and aggression.

6. Aging and Cognitive Dysfunction:

Senior cats (past 9 to 11 years of age) may experience cognitive dysfunction, leading to confusion and increased vocalization. 

Increased vocalization or meowing due to cognitive dysfunction in elderly cats may be accompanied by other behaviors such as increased accidents (due to reduced spatial awareness), pooping or urinating outside the litter box, staring blankly for long periods of time, and altered sleep. 

How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Meowing Constantly?

1. Managing Excessive Meowing Due to Suspected Pain, Anxiety, and age-related Conditions

In most cases, excessive meowing caused by pain, anxiety, and age-related conditions has other contextual clues that pet parents can look for — such as co-occurring behaviors (e.g. limping, changes in appetite),  environmental changes, and/or the age of the cat. 

If you suspect that your cat is meowing excessively due to any of these reasons, schedule a consultation with a veterinarian. Make sure to take note of any additional observations you have when it comes to other recent behavioral and environmental changes as these contexts are all helpful information for vets. The veterinarian will be able to give recommendations specific to your pet’s individual needs. 

A veterinarian at Sploot Veterinary Care in Denver or Chicago doing a pet wellness exam on a cat to find the root cause of excessive meowing or cat crying

2. Managing Yowling Due to Mating Behaviors

As mentioned above, cats yowl when seeking a mate. In addition to yowling, cat behaviors related to mating (e.g. wandering, pursuing potential mates, getting into fights with rival cats) can pose dangers for pet cats.

To help lessen mating-related yowling and the above dangers, pet parents can opt to get their fur baby spayed or neutered. This procedure also has health benefits, such as reducing the chances of certain types of cancers and infections. 

If you suspect that your cat’s excess yowling or crying is due to mating-related reasons, consult a veterinarian to see if spaying and neutering is the solution for your cat’s excessive meowing. The veterinarian will also determine if your cat is eligible for spaying or neutering

3. Excessive Meowing Due to Hunger or Attention Seeking

Once medical issues, anxiety, and mating-related yowling have been ruled out, there are two common causes of cat meowing that remain: hunger and attention-seeking. Here is how to address excessive meowing for each cause: 

a. Managing Meowing Due to Hunger

This kind of cat meowing is not always as insistent or intrusive as the rest. Oftentimes, it is  resolved once the meal is given to the cat. To help lessen hunger-related meowing, sticking to a consistent feeding schedule is the best approach.

In case meowing issues continue, reach out to a veterinarian as there may be other other underlying causes for this behavior. 

b. Meowing for Attention

Meowing or crying for attention can be very insistent until the cat gets the attention that they seek. As difficult as it may be, the way to resolve attention-seeking meowing behaviors is to show cats that it does NOT have the effect they desire. Try to ignore your cat when they are meowing excessively for attention.

In addition, giving your cat dedicated quality time, mentally stimulating cat games, and an enriching cat home environment will boost their well-being and help reduce attention-seeking behaviors.

If your cat continues to meow excessively, it may not be an attention-seeking behavior. This is why it’s always best to rule out medical, age-related, and mating-related reasons for excessive meowing. Just remember that whatever the cause of excessive meowing may be, experienced veterinarians will be able to help you determine the problem and address it accordingly. 

A cat that is happy after their underlying cause for excessive cat meowing or cat crying has been addressed

Final Thoughts About Excessive Cat Meowing & Cat Crying

In many cases, it may be challenging to know why a cat meows or yowls excessively in the first place. Remember that professional help is always available. Our veterinarians at Sploot are always ready to help.  

Sploot Veterinary Care is a trusted clinic that offers both primary and urgent care for cats and dogs. Whether you’re facing excessive cat meowing or other challenging cat behaviors, our veterinarians will help you address your cat’s needs and restore a harmonous bond. 

Sploot clinics are open 365 days a year with extended vet clinic hours. Schedule an appointment online or through the Sploot Vets app!

Till next time, we’re with you every pounce of the way!