Why Does Your Cat Meow? - Montecore PawPrints

Why Does Your Cat Meow?

Why Do Cats Meow?

Is your cat crying at night? While playing? Or when you empty the dishwasher? This article helps you figure out why your feline friend might be serenading you. 

Highlander Kitten Meowing


Why cats meow, particularly at humans, is a fascinating aspect of feline behavior that has intrigued both cat owners and animal behaviorists. Here are some insights into why cats vocalize in this manner:

  • Communication with Humans: 

Cats have developed meowing primarily as a form of communication with humans. Unlike their communication with other cats, which mainly involves body language, scent marking, and less vocalization, cats have learned that meowing communicates with their human companions.

  • Expressing Needs and Desires: 

Cats often meow to express their needs or desires. Meowing could signal hunger, seek attention, or indicate that they want to play or go outside. The meow is a cat's way of ensuring that someone understands their unmet needs.

  • Greeting Behavior: 

Many cats meow to greet their owners. When you return home, a short meow or a series of meows is your cat's way of saying hello and expressing happiness in your presence.

  • Learned Behavior:

Cats learn from a young age that meowing elicits a response from humans. If a cat meows and receives food, attention, or affection, it associates meowing with getting what it wants or needs.

  • Mood Indication:

A cat's meow's tone, length, and volume can explain their mood. Some meows indicate contentment, while others express annoyance, distress, or fear.

  • Variation Among Individual Cats:

Just like humans, every cat is unique. Some may be more vocal and use meowing as their primary means of communication, while others may be quieter.  Breed, upbringing, and individual personality can influence how much a cat meows.

  • Adaptation to Human Interaction:

Cats may have adapted their behavior to better communicate with humans. Since humans respond more to vocal cues than to scent or body language, cats might have developed meowing as a more effective way to interact with their human caregivers.


Why Does My Cat Meow at Night?

They understand why your cat meows, which requires paying attention to the context, frequency, and type of meowing. It's a form of interaction that strengthens the bond between cats and their owners, allowing for a better understanding of a cat’s needs and feelings. However, excessive changes in meowing can also be a sign of medical issues or stress, and in such cases, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian.

Cats crying or meowing in the middle of the night can be due to several reasons, ranging from natural behavior to health concerns. Here are some common explanations:

  • Attention Seeking:

Cats may meow at night if they're used to receiving attention during these hours. If you've previously responded to nighttime meowing with food, play, or cuddles, your cat may have learned that this behavior gets your attention


  • Hunger or Thirst:

A cat might cry at night due to hunger or thirst, especially if it has missed a meal or doesn't have access to fresh water.

  • Disorientation or Confusion:

Older cats, especially those suffering from cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to dementia in humans), can become disoriented or confused, leading them to meow loudly at night.

  • Boredom or Lack of Exercise:

A cat that hasn't been sufficiently active during the day may become restless at night. Cats are naturally more involved in the evenings and early mornings, and a lack of stimulation can lead to nighttime vocalizations.

  • Health Issues:

Persistent crying at night, especially if it's a new behavior, could indicate health problems. Pain, discomfort, or medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure can increase vocalization.

  • Mating Behavior:

Unspayed or unneutered cats may yowl at night due to mating instincts. This behavior is pervasive in females in heat and males who detect a female in heat nearby.

  • Environmental Changes:

Changes in the cat's environment, such as moving to a new home, a new pet or family member, or even rearranging furniture, can cause stress and increase vocalization.

To address nighttime crying, ensure your cat has a consistent feeding schedule, plenty of water, and ample playtime during the day. A veterinary checkup is advisable to rule out any medical issues for older cats or if the behavior is new. In some cases, creating a comfortable nighttime environment, with cozy sleeping areas away from noise and disturbance, can help reduce nocturnal meowing.

Why Does My Cat Meow While Hunting or Playing?

To address nighttime crying, ensure your cat has a consistent feeding schedule, plenty of water, and ample playtime during the day. A veterinary checkup is advisable to rule out any medical issues for older cats or if the behavior is new. In some cases, creating a comfortable nighttime environment, with cozy sleeping areas away from noise and disturbance, can help reduce nocturnal meowing.

When a cat meows while hunting, it can be a bit puzzling since hunting is typically a silent activity for felines, especially in the wild. However, domestic cats may exhibit different behaviors. 

  • Communication with Humans:

Domestic cats have evolved to communicate with humans; meowing is a primary part of this communication. When your cat is hunting, it might meow to involve you in the activity, especially if it sees you as a parental figure or a hunting partner. This behavior can invite them to join in or show you their hunting prowess.

  • Excitement or Frustration:

Hunting is a highly stimulating activity for cats, and meowing might express excitement or frustration during the hunt. If the cat is excited about catching its prey, it may vocalize. Conversely, the meowing could express frustration if the hunt is proving difficult.

  • Carrying Prey:

If a cat has already caught its prey, it might meow while carrying it. Sometimes, this behavior can mean a triumph or an announcement of a successful hunt.

  • Attention-Seeking Behavior:

Some cats may have learned that meowing gets them attention from their owners. If your cat has noticed that meowing during a hunt – or any activity – draws your attention, it may continue this behavior.

  • Instinctual Remnant:

In wild felines, especially those living in groups (like lions), vocalizations during or after a hunt can communicate with other group members. While domestic cats typically hunt alone, some instinctual remnants of group behavior might still be present.

    • Play Hunting:

    Indoor cats often treat toys as prey through play hunting. During these play sessions, meowing might be a part of the excitement and enjoyment of the game.

     It's important to note that every cat is unique, and their reasons for vocalizing can vary based on their personality, environment, and relationship with their owner. They observed when and how your cat meows during hunting, which can provide more clues to the specific reasons for this behavior.

    Resources on Cats Meowing.

    • ASPCA


    • Human Society 



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