Ever wonder why cats meow at night? You're not the only one. Many people have cats, and they all ask themselves this question at some point in their lives, but there's a reason for it! Cats are always looking for attention, and cat meows at night can be asking for something specific. Let's break down the kitty communication code together! Learn about the cause of cats meowing at night and prevent it with these tips from Pet Insurance Review.

An orange cat meows at the camera.

What causes cats to meow at night?

It's relatively common for cat owners to say that their cat meowing has kept them awake in the middle of the night. Night calling can be frustrating if you don't know why your kitty is doing it, but there's an explanation for this type of meow.

Cats commonly vocalize, but it's not just because they want attention. A cat communicates with meows and other sounds to indicate what type of mood or emotion she is feeling at any given moment, such as being playful, hungry for food, or wanting (demanding) clean litter boxes.

Some reasons why your cat meows and wakes you up at night include:

  • Boredom: Many cats don't get enough stimulation during the day. Active play before bedtime can help them relax better and sleep soundly at night.
  • Feline body clock: It's natural for cats to be energetic during certain hours of the night. Cats are crepuscular, which means they're most lively and demanding around dusk and early morning.
  • Aging: As cats age, they may become disoriented and meow at night. Older cats may suffer from Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS), which is brought on by various conditions, including old age, which often affects senior and elderly cats and changes their behaviors. Senior cats' meows may sound like a cat crying.
  • Illness and disease: If your cat is constantly meowing at night, it could be a sign that she's unwell. Observe your cat for other signs of pain, and contact your veterinarian immediately for an appointment.
  • Outdoor/Indoor felines: If you find your cat spends more time indoors and has grown tired of being confined indoors, it may begin meowing at night in frustration. Let your cat outdoors, provided it is safe to do so, and she will spend her time exploring rather than meowing.
  • Time to hunt: Cats instinctively hunt for prey at night, which may be a reason why your cat is up at all hours.
  • Anxiety: Changes to the environment or new schedules can create anxiety in a cat and cause her to meow at night.

If your cat is suffering from an illness, a medical exam and treatment may help reduce meowing at night. Otherwise, there are some steps you can take to address your cat's inappropriate meowing that interrupts your rest.

A black kitten meowing.

Tips for breaking the meowing habit.

Create a better routine.

Cats are instinctively curious and independent. They need a routine to feel safe, so by establishing a general schedule for feeding time with your kitty, you can avoid situations that might upset or stress her. For example, you could include play sessions just before bedtime, especially if it's an indoor cat who spends most of her days sleeping when you aren't at home.

Felines are creatures of habit, so if you're going to change up one of their established routines, you must set another in its place. That way, your cat won't associate meowing and causing you to get out of bed with feeding or letting them outside; stay put for ten whole minutes before doing anything about the demanding kitty's needs. Give it a few days, and your cat will adjust to the new schedule, which should reduce or prevent night meowing.

Reset your cat's internal clock.

Cats are night owls, which means that their bodies clock tends to be more active at night when hunting for prey. Younger cats, in particular, are known to romp around the house in the wee hours, although adult cats can still do the same. As a result of this natural instinctive behavior, cats are awake and hungry in the early hours of the morning. Try to push your cat's evening mealtime back to keep her fuller for longer. The cat is unlikely to bother you about food at 3 AM if she still has a relatively full belly.

A brown tabby cat meowing.

Feed your cat before bedtime.

There are two ways to make sure your feline friend has food and water all night long. The first option is the easiest: change the cat's mealtime to just before bed, so she has plenty of food when it's time for you to sleep. Additionally, create a scavenger hunt for your cat and try hiding some treats around the house; determination and curiosity will keep a kitty happy until morning comes around again.

Clean the litter box at night.

Kitties can be picky about their bathroom habits, and like us, they prefer a fresh, clean environment to do their business. Ideally, you should scoop your cat's litter box twice daily, with one of those cleanouts being just before bedtime. If the box is too dirty and smelly, you will hear your cat's meowing throughout the house, and deservedly so! A clean litter box can keep your cat happy the whole night.

A calico kitten meowing.

Prevent kitty boredom.

Felines are intelligent and social animals that need entertainment during their waking hours. That loud meowing you hear could be your healthy cat expressing her boredom. Providing your cat with toys, a hiding place where they can find fun surprises or treat toys are excellent ways to help burn off the extra energy she may use at night. A cat meow often indicates a desire to play, and appropriate items, such as food puzzles or laser toys, can be the difference between a crying cat and a quiet cat.

Bored cats may start meowing at you for attention, but providing them something to stay busy is key. Find an empty cardboard box and fill it with crinkly paper. You can also leave some biscuits around for her or hide a few treats and let the cat find them. This way, your kitty will have something tasty until morning and less likely to bother you at night. Keep your cat busy for a good night's sleep!

Ignore your cat.

A cat may meow for attention, but it needs to learn that no amount of noise will get you out of bed. If your pet is well-fed and watered with plenty of playtime each day. Ignoring bad behavior can be the best way to get your cat to change her habit.

This tactic could be a bit of an adjustment in the short term as you wait out your cat meowing at night. However, if you're patient and your cat realizes that you will not budge from bed, she will find something better to do with her time.

Catch some zzz's with a pet insurance policy.

Sleep easier at night, not just because your cat is no longer waking you up with her yowls, but because you've got a pet insurance policy to cover her in an emergency. Protection and peace of mind are what every cat parent wants, and Pet Insurance Review finds what is the best pet insurance policies to fit your budget and your pet's needs. Get a free pet insurance quote for your cat, and rest easy tonight.

 

References:

1. Shojai, A. (2021). Cat Language and Signals Explained. Retrieved from https://www.thesprucepets.com/cat-language-explained-553981

2. Cornell Feline Health Center. (2016). Cognitive Dysfunction. Retrieved from https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/cognitive-dysfunction

3. Murphy, K. (2016). Clever Ways to Keep Your Cat Active: Scavenger Hunts. Retrieved from https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/play-exercise/creating-scavenger-hunt-for-cat

4. Iorio Adelson, K. (2019). The Best Food Puzzles for Cats and Dogs, According to Experts. Retrieved from https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-food-puzzles-for-cats-and-dogs-according-to-vets.html