Why Cats Meow at Night and What to Do About It

Why Cats Meow at Night and What to Do About It

Photo by Wren Meinberg on Unsplash

Cats meow for many reasons, but are you wondering why cats meow at night? This is a question that many cat owners might ask themselves.

I am the ‘victim’ of this excessive meowing at night but thankfully, it happens once in a blue moon. And Dann usually stops after 10+ meows. Till now, I’m not sure why he did that but everything seems to be as usual.

Cats meow to communicate with humans and other animals, for example, if they are looking for food or want attention. They also can meow as an answer when their name is called out in the room where they’re hiding. Cats will also use this vocalization during mating season.

There are a few possibilities for night-meowing, and we’ll go through them in this post.

Cats and Excessive Vocalizations

Some cats are naturally more vocal than others. But if your cat is constantly yowling in ways that are not considered normal, it could be a sign that something is wrong. (Or your furry friend might be a bit of a drama queen.)

Your cat may meow for a variety of reasons, but they can usually be categorized into the following five categories. 

  • Demand: This is a good old-fashioned “feed me now!” call.

  • Attention: This may be a “come pet me!” cry. 

  • Urgent: Yowling may be your cat’s way of getting your attention if he or she is in distress. 

  • Desperation: When your cat meows in a low tone and with a long, drawn-out “Oooooh” sound, it may be a cry for help.

  • Playfulness: Your cat is probably just trying to get your attention by meowing to have some fun. 

So, why do cats meow at night while you are sleeping? The four possible reasons are

  1. Your cat is hungry

  2. It’s time to give your cat attention and scratches

  3. They see something unfamiliar like a bug

  4. They are in pain or distress.

We have explained each reason further in the section below.

Why cats meow at night?

Cats are nocturnal animals. While they sleep more than most other animals (a full 16 hours every day!), they aren’t limited to only being awake at night. Your cat should be awake and active in the wee hours of the morning as well.

But why all the fuss? Why are cats so vocal at night? There are many possible reasons, including the following:

1. Cats meow when they are hungry or need something 

When your feline friend meows at you, he is trying to communicate that he is hungry. In fact, most cats only meow when they want food or attention. If the cat becomes persistent in his attempts to gain your attention and even meows right at you near your bed, it’s time to feed him!

2. Cats can be lonely and want attention from their humans at night

Cats are usually solitary animals who prefer to spend their time on their own. However, they can also be very dependent on their owners for their attention and companionship.

While some cats prefer to spend a lot of time alone, others miss human interaction during the night hours when everyone is sleeping. This is especially evident when you lock your cat out of your room while sleeping. They cry out for attention as if you ditched them.  

3. A unfamiliar object in the home might make a cat want to defend its territory

A cat can be territorial. If it feels threatened by something unfamiliar that has wandered into their home, such as a bug, they may feel the need to defend their territory.

Cats are hunters and, in the wild, their territory keeps them safe. They have an innate sense of instinct when something unfamiliar enters their territory and feel the need to protect themselves. 

One of the ways a cat may defend itself is by hissing, meowing or growling at a foreign object. By doing this, the cat is telling whatever is making it uncomfortable that it is not welcome.

4. Your cat might be in distress 

Your cat meows throughout the day to get your attention, to get fed, to be petted. You may have never stopped to wonder why your cat meows. But if your cat is suddenly meowing a lot at night and it’s out of the ordinary for them, chances are something is wrong.

Cats meow when they are in pain or distress. They could have a health issue, such as a urinary tract infection, or they could have gotten hurt. If your cat meows constantly out of the blue, or shows signs of pain, it’s time to take them to the vet for a closer look. 

How do you stop a cat from meowing all night

If your cat is keeping you awake all night, you’re not alone. For many cat owners, their feline companion’s vocalizations are a source of frustration, especially if they strike in the wee hours of the morning. (Don’t you just love it when that happens?)

Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to this problem, but there are a few things you can do to make the situation better.

Determine the cause of their meowing

Cats meow for various reasons, and sometimes for no reason at all. It is important to determine what is the cause of the meowing. If they meow all of a sudden, make sure they are not in pain or distress.

Ensure that they are using the litter box properly and not having to call for help because of urinary issues. If your cats meow during the night on a regular basis, then consider the solutions below.  

Leave enough food and water 

When we complain to our vets that our cats meow for no reason, they tell us that most cats meow because they are hungry. I guess they’re right. They usually stop if I refill their food bowl (note, even though the bowl isn’t empty, it could look empty to cats).

You might also want to try using an automatic feeder to make sure they are getting their meals and snacks on time. It is important to leave fresh water in their water bowl as well before going to bed each day.

Provide a scratching post or cat tree for your cat to scratch 

If you only have one cat, chances are she is bored and wants your attention, whether for scritches or playtime. Having a scratching board for your cat allows them to play with it and rub their bodies against it for scritches-like feelings. 

Make sure there are enough toys for your cat to play with 

Similar to the previous point, cats need exercise and playtime. Leave toys for your cats to play with at night so that they can exercise while you sleep. In our experience, balls and tunnels work perfectly well because cats like to hide and hunt.  

Keep the litter box clean 

Cats are fussy creatures and if they don’t feel their litter box is clean, they’ll tell you about it. Make sure to clean your cat’s litter box and remove all waste by the end of the day before you go to bed. 

Let them get enough exercise in the day 

When cats play hard in the morning, they sleep better (or are quieter) at night. Spend 15 minutes a day playing with your cats. To burn off their energy, you can throw sticks or balls and have them chase after them. Otherwise, you can consider automated toys to entertain them without you running all over the house. 

Should I ignore my cat meowing at night?

If you have eliminated all other reasons they are meowing and implemented our suggestions, check with your vet and make sure there are no underlying medical conditions or they are in their heat cycles. If everything is in order, yes. You should probably ignore your cat’s nighttime meowing if they are doing it for no reason.

Try it for some periods of time and see what happens. Like babies, they learn from patterns. If you give them attention every time they meow at night, they will just continue doing it. Ignore them and see if they go to sleep or decide to have their own playtime.

Closing thoughts

The number one thing that humans need to know and understand about cats is that cats are not humans. While we have a few things in common (everyone likes a good cuddle and some good petting), cats are very different from people and don’t think the same way as us. You should never punish a cat for meowing a lot just because you don’t understand it. 


Do cats have night vision?

Cats do have night vision but not to as good of a degree as some animals such as owls.

How to make cats sleep at night?

A lot of cat owners have trouble getting their pets to sleep at night. This is because cats are nocturnal predators. The best thing you can do is to let the cat sleep during the day and wake up at night.

If you really prefer them to sleep at night, you should try to make them sleep by providing a darkened, quiet room and place their food bowl on the floor.

You can try to limit their sleep during the day and provide them with stimulating activities to keep their energy levels up. Keep in mind that they have a lot of energy and can’t sleep for hours on end like humans, so you will need to find something else for them to do.

When do cats meow?

Cats meow to communicate with their human owners. They will meow when they want something, such as food and water or attention.

Cats also meow for other reasons too – if they feel threatened or if you have a new pet in the house.

Cats also meow when they are frustrated or bored, and this usually happens at night. If this is your cat’s behaviour, make sure that it has access to toys during the day so it can play with them before bedtime.


Sign up for our newsletter