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Why your cat is meowing at night and how to stop it

cat meowing at night
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve got a cat that can’t resist a vocalization session into the small hours, then you’ll be likely be wondering why do cats meow at night, and more importantly, is there anything you can do to stop it so that both of you get a better night’s rest. 

There can be several reasons why cats might be meowing at night, and while feline animals aren’t nocturnal, they are usually crepuscular, meaning they save certain activities for dawn and dusk, such as hunting and mating - likely to be a key reason for excessive noise at inconvenient times. 

But that's not the only reason why a cat might be meowing at night. If your cat won't sleep and is keeping you awake too with their incessant yowling, the only way to nip the behavior in the bud is unearth the root of the problem in the first instance. 

This article will explore common reasons for this feline behavior and provide ways you can stop it from occurring. 

Why does my cat meow at night?

Your feline being most active in the twilight hours isn't the only reason why a cat might be meowing at night, a more extensive list of reasons includes:

  • Your cat is trying to hunt
  • Your cat is bored or unstimulated during the day
  • Your cat is seeking attention
  • An outdoor cat is trapped inside and wants to go out
  • Your cat is trying to mate
  • Your cat has a medical issue, such as an overactive thyroid issue or kidney disease (this is usually more of a problem for older cats)

Most of the time, the reason for a cat meowing at night is nothing too problematic to worry about, so try not to panic if it starts happening - but it is important to be aware of it, as it can be a cause for concern if left unchecked. That’s especially true if your cat was not prone to the behavior before and it has suddenly started to happen.

If your cat’s excessive meowing seems to be because your cat is having trouble sleeping, try reading our three reasons why your cat can’t sleep piece for some helpful tips and advice for getting them to nod off in a timely fashion.

When your cat is asleep, it can also be helpful to monitor your cat’s sleeping positions. Observing how they catch some rest can reveal lots about your cat’s state of mind, and whether or not they’re feeling anxious. 

Cat sat on chair meowing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to stop a cat meowing all night 

As much as we all love our pets, sometimes they can really test our patience with their behavior - especially if that starts to affect our own sleeping patterns.

If your cat has taken up to rousing the neighborhood with its “night calling”, then you’ll be wanting to put an end to it as soon as you can - for your own sake as well as theirs.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to try and help the problem and eliminate the meowing, depending on what is the likely cause of it in the first place. 

If your cat is more active at night  

It’s better if your cat follows roughly the same sleep pattern as you, and our piece on the reasons why your cat can’t sleep will give you some excellent tips for ensuring that happens. 

However, you will also likely find that night-time meowing eases off as the cat gets older and settles into a routine more easily, as well as losing some of their strong mating or hunting instincts. 

You might also want to invest in the best cat bed to make sure that your cat is cosy and warm and feels safe at home. 

If your cat is bored  

It’s important to both physically and mentally stimulate your cat, and that’s especially true if you have an indoor cat which doesn’t get its stimulation from going outside. 

If they’ve spent the day bored, then it can manifest as meowing at night as they won’t be tired out and seeking attention. 

It’s best if you can provide the stimulation during the day at a time which suits you, rather than responding to them when they start meowing, otherwise they will simply learn to adopt this behavior. Provide plenty of toys for them in your house, and try to dedicate at least 20-30 minutes of playtime for them if they are indoor cats, too. 

Cats which are primarily indoor cats may also benefit from some time in a garden or enclosed space, so also think about introducing that to your cat’s routine. If you can’t provide any outdoor space, give them a good amount of space indoors, and consider installing special areas that they can climb around and explore.

Ragdoll cat meowing

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If your cat feels trapped 

 An outdoor cat who feels trapped may feel inclined to meow at night. 

If you’ve taken to keeping your cat indoors overnight, but letting them play outside all day, then this can understandably lead to periods of frustration for the cat, especially if they were previously used to having free roam of the streets whenever they want. 

Perhaps you’ve stopped letting them out at night because you don’t want the hassle of letting them back in during the early hours of the morning. In which case, you might want to consider investing in the best microchip cat flaps - you can set entry/exit hours, and you can ensure only your moggy makes it indoors as the flap will recognize only your furkid’s chip.  

If your cat wants to mate  

Yowling at night could be a cat call to fellow moggies. 

It’s worth at the very least considering getting your cat neutered, especially if you are going to let them roam outside unattended. You might find that it doesn’t take very long after neutering for the meowing to stop.

If your cat has a medical problem  

If all of the above issues have been ruled out or seem to be unlikely, it’s worth taking your cat along to the vet for a quick check-up, as unexpected and frequent meowing at night could be a sign that all is not well. 

Older cats can suffer from problems such as an overactive thyroid or kidney disease which is causing them to meow excessively during normal sleeping hours. 

Always make sure your cat has access to a litter tray at night - don’t lock it away from them in a different room when you go to bed - as it could be as simple as they want to go to the toilet but are unable to. 

Amy Davies

Amy Davies is a writer and photographer with more than ten years’ experience working in the media. She lives with her miniature dachshund, Lola, a rescue dog who is very much the boss.