One of the peskiest problems that cat owners deal with is ongoing meowing at night. If your cat is meowing from dusk until dawn, it can be very difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
There are many reasons that cats meow during the night, and luckily, many of these problems are easy to solve. Here are some of the most common causes of these nocturnal noises and how you can solve them.
The Science Behind Your Cat’s Sleep Schedule
Cats are simultaneously nocturnal and crepuscular. This means they are both active at night and active during dawn and dusk. This is why you may notice a particular burst of energy from your cat in the early hours of the morning, as the sun starts to rise.
Reasons Why Cats Meow At Night
There are so many reasons why your cat may be meowing at night. Here are some of the most common reasons for these noises.
- Your cat is not active enough during the day, and therefore has too much energy at night.
- Your cat’s hunting instincts are stronger at night. It’s very common for cats to want to hunt between the hours of 3 and 5 AM – making it difficult for their owners to sleep.
- You’ve recently changed your schedule or environment and your cat is adjusting. For example, maybe you started a new job that has you going to bed earlier, or you moved to a noisy area that’s more stimulating for your cat. This can also happen if you’ve recently introduced another pet into your home.
- The lighting in your bedroom is keeping your cat awake.
- You’re feeding your cat too early in the evening and they’ve started to get hungry again.
- Your cat is experiencing health issues that need to be addressed. In particular, cats can get disoriented when they get older, which can lead to meowing. Excessive meowing can also be a symptom of kidney disease or an overactive thyroid.
- You have reacted to the meowing, accidentally reinforcing the behavior.
- You haven’t neutered your female cat, and they are in season.
Are Your Reinforcing Your Cat’s Irritating Behavior?
Many cat owners reinforce their cat’s nighttime meowing without realizing it. After all, it’s very difficult to ignore your cat when they are being so loud. However, if you interact with your cat every single time they wake you up, it shows them that this is an effective way for them to get attention.
They’ll be particularly likely to repeat the pattern if you get up to feed them, cuddle with them, or play with them. Before you react to your cat’s meows, stop to make sure you’re not accidentally reinforcing these bad habits. Ideally, you should only react when they’re silent – even if it’s just for a split second.
Effective Ways To Stop Your Cat From Meowing At Night
There are a number of different ways you can stop your cat from meowing at night. In most cases, it will require a slight change in your routine to help your cat adjust. Here are some of the most effective strategies to help stop your cat from meowing at night.
Take your cat to the vet to rule out any potential health problems
In most cases, your cat’s nocturnal meows are just a result of their schedule or a change in environment, but there are some cases where your cat’s meows are indicative of a serious health problem. Taking your cat for a checkup will help you to rule out these potential health issues. If you have an unneutered female in season, you can talk to your vet about neutering her to prevent her calling.
Keep your cat engaged during the day
If your cat is active throughout the day, they’ll have less energy at night and will be less likely to meow. Feeding your cat regularly during the day can keep them active. You can even put your cat’s favorite treats into a puzzle toy, which will help to keep them from meowing at night. Make sure your cat has access to toys they can play with alone while you’re out of the house, as well as access to a window where they can watch the outside world.
Feed your cat later at night
This will help to keep them feeling full for much longer and therefore they will be less likely to wake you up. If your cat gets hungry often, you may need to split their meals up into smaller ‘snacks’ to keep them satisfied and engaged. Most cats need at least two meals a day.
Take some time to play and interact with your cat before you go to bed
This could be some time with their favorite toy or just some cuddles. A particularly effective strategy is to use toys that help your cat mimic hunting. A laser pen can make a good start, but it needs to be followed by something your cat can actually catch to prevent frustration- tossing a toy mouse around is a good option. By making this a habit, you can reset your cat’s internal clock, so they want to hunt just before bedtime instead of early in the morning.
Scoop your cat’s litter box before you go to bed
When your cat has a clean place to use the bathroom, they will be less likely to wake you up at night.
In some cases, having your cat sleep with you in bed can make the meowing worse
Your cat may have a hard time understanding that it’s your bedtime, and therefore will want to wake you up at night. Having their own separate bed and play area nearby will help them keep entertained and prevent ongoing issues. There are some exceptions to this – for example, if your cat is feeling anxious or lonely, sleeping with you can actually help to calm them down.
Try your best to ignore your cat’s meowing
If you get up to feed or play with them, it reinforces the behavior, so they will continue to do it night after night. It can take a few days or even a few weeks before your cat stops meowing, but try to be patient.
Calming an Anxious Cat
Just like humans, some cats experience higher levels of anxiety than others, which could be contributing to their nocturnal noises. If your cat is anxious, make sure their environment feels safe and comfortable. Move your cat’s bed close to yours and make sure they can see you so they feel secure. You should also make sure they have plenty of soft blankets and toys to cuddle up with – this can help them feel more secure.
Comforting A Lonely Cat
If you’ve just adopted a kitten, they might be meowing because they are feeling lonely and missing their mothers. To prevent this, take extra time to bond with them throughout the day. The more time you spend with your kitten, the more you two will be able to build a trusting bond. It’s generally not a good idea to let your cat into your bed unless that’s a long-term plan – it’ll be very hard to change the rules later down the line!
Addressing Sight or Hearing Issues
Cats with sight and hearing issues may be more likely to meow at night because they need help getting around. If your cat has vision problems, strategically place night lights throughout your space to help them see.
Cats with hearing issues may also be more likely to meow at night, as they feel disoriented. In this case, do everything you can to reduce your cat’s anxiety – make sure they can be close to you at night and that there are comfortable, safe places in your home where they can relax.
You don’t need to sacrifice your sleep just because you have a cat. These nighttime noises can be tamed with some attention and changes in routine for you and your cat. If the issue persists, it’s very important to take your cat to the vet for a checkup. The vet can help you rule out any underlying health conditions that may be causing the excessive meowing.