I Fed My Cat - Why Won't They Stop Meowing?
When your chatty kitty is cute but testing your patience.
Anyone who owns or has owned a cat has probably experienced this: Your cat has just been fed but they still keep wandering around the house and meowing. I dealt with this a lot with cats at my parents’ house growing up, but recently it’s become more of a problem – my cat (or, more specifically, my husband’s sister’s cat who currently lives with us) will just not stop meowing. But why?
Cats are complicated animals, and this is reflected in how they communicate. For one thing, meowing is not a vocalization adult cats use to communicate with each other, but rather one reserved for kittens towards their mothers or cats toward their humans. (Flowers 2019; ASPCA) As such, there isn’t any one reason why cats meow.
Incessant meowing could be a symptom of pain or disease, though these would likely have accompanying symptoms. If you’re worried this might be the case for your cat, a visit to the vet might be in order, just to be on the safe side. (Kelley 2019; Flowers 2019)
It could also be a sign that the cat is growing senile. Older cats, much like older humans, can experience cognitive deterioration as they age, which can leave them feeling lost or disoriented, hence the constant meowing. (Kelley 2019; Flowers 2019; ASPCA) There would likely be other symptoms associated with this as well, such as a change in sleeping patterns or even incontinence. (Kelley 2019)
Another strong possibility is that your cat is bored or lonely, especially if they are the only cat in the household and the humans of the home are away for much of the day. Finding sources of entertainment and stimulation for your cat while they’re alone could help alleviate this, or you could also consider hiring a pet sitter. (Kelley 2019; Flowers 2019; ASPCA) If you’re cat is displaying signs of loneliness when you are home, putting in more playtime and cuddle time with your cat might be necessary.
Constant meowing might also mean that your cat is stressed. If there has been a dramatic change in your life recently (such as moving houses, someone leaving the home, or a loved one dying), these factors could be stressing out your cat and causing them to become increasingly vocal. Working to find ways to help them adjust to whatever changes are stressing them out can help alleviate the behaviour. (Flowers 2019)
In any case, when dealing with a constantly meowing cat, there are two general rules of thumb to go by: Do not punish your cats meowing, nor reward it. That is, if your cat is meowing excessively but isn’t trying to alert you to an actual problem (such as being trapped or hurt), it might be tempting to punish the cat for being annoying by yelling at them or spraying them with water. This is unlikely to actually correct the behaviour, however, and will instead teach your cat to be scared of you. On the other hand, giving treats or attention to quiet your cat when they start meowing will only teach your cat that such behaviour is going to be rewarded. Whatever your cat needs or wants, wait until they quiet down before giving it to them. This way they learn it is something they will receive regardless of if they cry, and that crying in and of itself will not get them what they’re seeking. (Flowers 2019; ASPCA)
ASPCA. “Meowing and Yowling.” Retrieved February 5, 2020 (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/meowing-and-yowling).
Flowers, Amy. 2019. “Cats and Excessive Meowing.” WebMD. Retrieved February 5, 2020 (https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/cats-excessive-meowing#1).
Kelley, Jane A. 2019. “Cat Won’t Stop Meowing? 7 Reasons for All That Cat Meowing.” Catster. Retrieved February 5, 2020 (https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/cat-wont-stop-meowing-reasons-for-cat-meowing).