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Health & Wellness

Why do cats meow so much?

Learn how to speak their language

Decoding your cat’s nonstop meowing is no easy task — and clearly they can’t understand you when you kindly ask them to stop. Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough breaks down different kinds of cat vocalizations to help you better understand what your cat is trying to say. 

Why is my kitten meowing nonstop? 

Kittens meow to express a need. They usually meow to let you know when they’re hungry, cold, to greet you, or to go inside or outside. Which means if your kitten is meowing at you, they probably need something!

Why do adult cats meow so much? 

As kittens grow up, they meow more, and are more intentional about their vocalizations. Adult cats can meow for attention, to greet you, because they’re hungry or to be let inside or outside (if they’re an outdoor cat).

When cat meowing is a symptom of an underlying health issue 

Talk to your vet if you’re concerned with how much your cat is meowing. If they are being unusually vocal, it could be one of these underlying health issues: 

  • Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary illnesses like a urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Cognitive dysfunction like dementia
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Loss of vision or hearing
  • Your cat may be in heat

Do cats have different types of meows?

Just like humans, cats’ tones mean different things. Pay attention to body language when decoding these different types of meows: 

  • If your cat seems healthy and they’re meowing a lot, they could just be bored and looking for attention.
  • Yowling: common in older cats, and could mean they're uncomfortable
  • Purring: usually means happy
  • Hissing and spitting: your cat is warning you that they feel threatened
  • Snarling and growling: they’re scared
  • Screaming or screeching: If your cat isn’t an outdoor cat, they could be in severe pain. When these vocalizations are heard in outdoor cats it often means they’re either fighting or mating. 

Should constant cat meowing be discouraged? 

Probably not. Check with your vet to identify if it’s because of an underlying health condition and to ensure they’re not in pain. If the meowing still bothers you, work with a behavioral therapist to help your cat better express themself, especially if the meowing seems to be caused by attention-seeking or only happens around mealtimes or while playing.

Your cat is just trying to communicate with you. As their best friend, use these tips to decode their language — it’ll bring you so much closer. 

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Photo by Daniel Park on Unsplash

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