Is your cat a talker? Do they wander around the house meowing for no apparent reason? Do you answer their meowing? Read more to find out why cats meow.

cat in chair
Peanut Butter meows when she is hungry or when she has something to tell you.
Photo by Beth A. Freely Rauch.

My cat Peanut Butter is sitting next to me as I write this, meowing incessantly at me. She is not very happy at the moment because there seems to be an unacceptable situation with her food bowl. It’s empty. See, I’ve had to change her feeding habits again because her sister has a food allergy, and I’m trying to get them back to eating more canned food and less kibble. Unfortunately, the chunky butt that is Peanut Butter – an all-day snacker – is not on board with this plan. And she’s letting the entire world know about it with her very loud meow.

Why do cats meow? Why do they feel it is necessary to wander around the house, announcing to the world with their meowing that they are there? The reason for meowing changes as they get older. Kittens meow to let their mother know that they are scared, cold, or, you guessed it, hungry. Older cats meow to communicate with their human staff.

Yes, But Why Do They Meow So Much

What type of cat do you own? That’s the first question you have to ask. Some cat breeds, like Siamese cats, are simply very vocal and are known as “talkers.” They have a lot to say and meow at you about everything. Tortoiseshell cats, like my cats Peanut Butter and Toast, are also very vocal. Peanut Butter will meow if you touch her, and her meow has meaning. Some cats meow in greeting, say when you come home from work. And then some cats just seem to like the sound of their own meow and want to carry on a conversation with you…like Peanut Butter.

In their little feline heads, their meow is probably telling you everything that is wrong, from the placement of the blanket in their spot on the bed to the fact that their food bowl is empty because of the small hole in the middle where they can see the bottom of the bowl!

A Cat’s Meow Can Indicate Problems

cat on table
Isis, my sister’s cat, has a very delicate meow.
Photo by Beth A. Freely Rauch.

If your cat seems to be meowing more than normal, there could be a problem beyond the obvious attention-seeking and food bowl catastrophe. A cat’s meow could show that they are:

  • Sick – meowing, when added to abnormal behavior for your cat, are usually good indications that they are sick or in pain. Illnesses such as an overactive thyroid or kidney disease have been known to cause cats to meow more than normal.
  • Lonely – cats are social creatures. They enjoy having company and interaction. If you work all day, consider getting another cat. They keep each occupied, and you are giving another cat a chance at a good life. If that’s not an option, why not hire a pet sitter to come to visit every day? Or, get your cat a condo and plenty of toys they can play with.
  • Stressed – just like us, cats get stressed. When this happens, they become more vocal and start meowing. Anything can stress your cat, from a move to a new home, the addition to the family such as a baby or another pet, or even the loss of a loved one. The best thing you can do is try to figure out why your cat is stressed and then give them some extra attention to help calm them and stop them meowing.
  • Getting older – did you know that cats can suffer from mental confusion or even cognitive dysfunction as they get older? They can get turned around, and their meow might sound like a question. If this happens at night, consider adding a nightlight in a few places to help your cat keep their bearings. Also, talk to your vet about medication that can help them with their illness and decrease their meowing.
  • In heat or want to mate – Ah, yes, the call of nature. The meow turns to yowls, and the entire neighborhood can hear your cat. If you don’t want a monthly yowl-fest, consider having your cat spayed or neutered.
Cat with yellow eyes and multicolored fur looking at the camera
If your cat is meowing more than normal, don’t ignore it!
Photo by Nihal Karkala on Unsplash

What Should I Do About This Meowing

Never ignore your cat if they are meowing more than what you are used to. Try to find out why they are meowing, and whatever you do, don’t reward it. If you reward your cat for meowing, they will keep doing it, and the meowing will become a bad habit. Always check on your cat to make sure they aren’t trapped in a room, are out of food or water, or can’t get to their litter box. Never punish your cat for meowing at you. They are trying to tell you something. You have to find out why they are meowing and resolve the problem.

Cats meow for different reasons. Do you have a chatterbox? Tell us about your chatty cat in the comments below.