Why Does My Cat Meow So Much?

A person emailed me with the above question. My initial response was to tell him that you have got to know how much your cat meows normally before you can decide whether he is meowing more than normal and therefore “so much”. Then there is the person’s expectations…

Cat meow

Cat meow. Click for a larger version of the image.

Vocal Cat

Some cats are more vocal than others. So if your cat is vocal and he’s always vocal then that is normal and it should be accepted. This is provided that all the other boxes have been ticked with respect to health and circumstance by which I mean the cat is known to be healthy and nothing untoward has occurred.

Purebred?

The person who asked the question did not have a purebred cat but if he had an Oriental shorthair or Siamese then the answer would probably be in the breed’s characteristics because as we know these breeds are vocal.

Cats Meow at People

The meow is one of a range of sounds that the domestic cat makes. In fact it is said that cats rarely meow with each other but that the meow has been developed to communicate with us, their human caretakers. That said, kittens meow to their mothers when they’re hungry or cold and so on. People need to make sure they are differentiating between the meow and other vocalisations such as a growl. Cats will also have their own individual sounds akin to meows.

Request

Oftentimes when a cat meows at their caretaker it is a request for something such as food or more generally a learned response to get attention. If the caretaker is not providing enough food then naturally the cat will meow more often which may explain why the cat is meowing “so much”. It may be the case that on occasions a cat may demand too much food for his own good perhaps because the food is addictive to a certain extent. It is said that some dry cat food is addictive resulting in obesity. The only answer is to not respond to the cat’s meow: tough love is probably be the answer under these circumstances together with providing better quality food.

Attention Seeking

The experts say that cats meow when they are attention seeking. Personally, I have never experienced this. I’m not sure that cats do attention seek in the conventional sense as a child might. If a cat is attention seeking by meowing a lot then it could be said that the human guardian is not providing enough attention. The experts say that if a cat is attention seeking the person should ignore the cat to stop the meowing. That’s what they say but I don’t agree with it and will leave it at that for the time being.

Greeting

The most common time when my cat meows is when he greets me after being outside. He is excited to see me and happy to be inside with me. But his meowing is not excessive. I would doubt that a person would complain that their cat meows “so much” simply because he/she is greeting his human companion. Of course, people will have different expectations as what is a normal amount of meowing. Cats are generally quite quiet and don’t vocalise that much.

Health

When ill, the domestic cat is generally quiet and passive. However, sometimes the pain can be bad enough such that the cat has to vocalise his emotions. An observant cat caretaker should be able to make a reasonable guess or assessment that their cat is vocalising pain because of the surrounding circumstances. Perhaps his cat has just returned from the veterinary clinic after being declawed and the owner has forgotten to administer painkillers.

Dementia

When cats become very old they sometimes have dementia. Dementia causes confusion and confusion can lead to howling or meowing at night. This is normal for the condition and, in my opinion, the owner should get out of bed and attend to their cat to comfort him and alleviate the confusion.

In Heat

Females yell when in heat and males yell when they smell a female in heat. However, this is not meowing. The sounds are quite different. Also, both males and females should be “fixed” meaning spayed and neutered and therefore this aspect of domestic cat behaviour should not be apparent.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if the cat is meowing a lot – more than normal – then I would look to circumstances that may indicate that he is in pain. Having eliminated that possibility (this may require an veterinary visit) I would then look to making sure that I was giving my cat enough attention and company. Both these points should cover about 80% of the reasons. However, the most likely reason why a person asks “Why does my cat meow so much?” is because the person mistakenly thinks that their cat is meowing a lot more than normal. The person should check that their expectations are correct. There are two sides to this topic.

These are my thoughts. They are not set in concrete. You may disagree.


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Comments

Why Does My Cat Meow So Much? — 2 Comments

  1. This is a question I’ve often asked myself about Phoebe, as I’m sure have my other cats. Charley will sometimes leave the room when she starts meowing 🙂

    When you raise a cat from kittenhood you see their personality developing. Over time it becomes clear whether you have a chatterbox, or the strong, silent type on your hands. We learn their vocabulary and they in turn recognise which vocalisations (or behaviours) will elicit the desired response from us.

    However when you adopt an adult cat, it’s not always quite so easy. Especially when there may be little to no background information available. Phoebe was 3 years old when I adopted her from a rescue. She and another cat were left behind in a flat when their former owners relationship broke down and they moved out. After several weeks the cats were surrendered to a rescue.

    When I arrive home or at random times of the day, Phoebe repeatedly meows in an urgent tone for about 5-10 minutes non-stop. Initially I thought this may be due to having previously being abandoned, but the duration or the volume of the meowing has not subsided in the past 6 months. She’s a confident, happy little cat so I’ve dismissed any concerns about her previous homelife having affected her.

    To me, her urgent meowing sounds like she wants something, but offers of food, affection, play and even grooming haven’t worked. I’m coming to the conclusion that this is perhaps just her enthusiastic way of saying hello, but I’d welcome input from other cat owners.

  2. Michael, my own experience is that some cats will use vocalisation to get attention. Perhaps more so if they are fairly chatty with humans?

    I think I’ve posted on here before about my chatterbox Merlin, who had the widest vocabulary of any cat I’ve ever known. He was never happy about having a dusk curfew and would sit by the door hoping to be allowed outside. Then he’d begin with a pitiful mewling. When being polite failed, he took it up a notch to urgent meowing and if that (combined with constantly glancing in our direction) failed, then he’d begin caterwauling. This would go on for at least 30 minutes, until eventually he’d walk upstairs making strange swearing/yodelling noises to himself, before proceeding to empty dresser drawers of their contents. My ex and I used to joke that he was like a teenager storming off to their bedroom in a tantrum.

    Michael, I was going to suggest you try locking the cat-flap for a couple of nights if you want to hear an example of a cat meowing to get your attention 😉 Then I remembered Gabriel’s the strong, silent type so he’d probably find an alternative method for persuading you to let him out.

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