Unless you’ve either never met a cat, or have only encountered that very rare silent kind, you’ll already know that cats cry. A lot. Some confine their cries to pitiful little sounds that barely register, others make the kind of noise that lets you know exactly where the term caterwauling comes from. Finding out why your cat is crying is always going to be the first step towards ending the pitiful meowing. Cats cry for a myriad of reasons, the vast majority of which are no cause for concern. Every now and then, however, it signifies something that may need you to sit up and take notice.
A cat is rarely going to let themselves go hungry if they know that crying loudly and long enough will get you to open that pouch of cat food. As Pet Central notes, cats tend to know exactly what time their usual food time is and will usually start getting vocal just as their tummies start to growl. If you notice your cat crying around the same time every day, and if the crying tends to stop after they’ve eaten, there’s your explanation. To keep the crying to a minimum, aim to get into a regular feeding schedule so your cat doesn’t start to panic when mealtime rolls around, and the food hasn’t yet arrived.
They want to go outside
If your cat is allowed to go outside but doesn’t have the benefit of a cat flap, they might use their cries as a way of prompting you to open the door and let them out. If you’re getting tired of playing doorman, consider installing a cat door to give them the freedom to come and go as they please. It’s not only the door to the great outdoors that cats can cry at- if you’re in the habit of keeping interior doors shut, your cat may express their dissatisfaction in much the same way.
They want your attention
We tend to think of cats as being far more self-sufficient and independent than dogs, but even if this is true, it doesn’t mean they don’t like spending time in your company. If a cat gets bored and feels a bit of playtime with you will help resolve it, be sure they’ll let you know by rubbing against your legs and letting it rip with their vocals. Schedule plenty of time to devote to your pet so they don’t feel they have to kick up a fuss to get it.
If your cat starts yowling when you pick them up, pet them when they don’t want it, or otherwise interact with them in a way they don’t approve of, you can be pretty confident those yowls are your cat’s way of expressing their annoyance. Cats are masters of body language, so watch out for their signals to stop the crying before it starts.
They don’t feel well
Cats have a tendency to try and hide their sickness and will usually try to make themselves as unnoticeable as possible if they’re in pain. However, as Catster notes, they do occasionally like to let you know they’re in distress, with hypertension, kidney disease, and cognitive issues generally expressing themselves through loud cries. Deaf cats can also meow if they feel confused or anxious. If you’re concerned your cat’s crying is indicative of an underlying condition, don’t hesitate in getting them to a vet.
They like to talk
Some cats just really like to talk. Breeds like Siamese, Bengal, Tonkinese and Sphynx are in the habit of chatting away to you, themselves, and anyone else who seems vaguely interested. There’s absolutely nothing to be worried about with their behavior, and short of engineering a breed-change, precious little you can do to stop it (although talking back to them does tend to encourage them to do it even more).
How to cope with a crying cat
Although 9 times out of 10, your cat’s caterwauling is just a nuisance, rather than a sign of anything too serious, there are certain things you can do to try and minimize the unwanted behavior. No one’s denying it can be hard to ignore a meowing cat, but if you want to put an end to their yelling, ignore it you may have to. Cats tend to be most vocal in the early hours of the morning and late hours of the night (which is usually when they feel that instinctive urge to start hunting for food). Ignore their meows and they usually start to resort to some attention-seeking “kitty love” in the form of gentle little pats with their paws, loving nips, or deep breathing in your ears. Although this kind of behavior is really hard to simply ignore, pay it any attention at all and you’re essentially rewarding it with your time… and if they know their behavior is going to get a response, why would they ever choose to stop?
If you’re committed to keeping their meowing to a minimum, you’ll need to start ignoring their attempts to sucker you in. Keep things to a schedule- by letting your cat know they’ll be getting their meals at certain times and your attention at others, they’ll quickly learn they don’t need to keep reminding you of their needs. Just be aware that cats will usually have one last-ditch attempt to get your attention in the way they’re used to and will put every ounce of effort into that attempt. Prepare yourself for some serious screaming by investing in some earplugs in advance. If your cat usually sleeps in the same room as you, you might also want to keep your door shut during the worst of it. An interactive game or two set out last thing at night can also give them something to distract them… and no matter how bad it gets, take some conciliation in knowing those ear-splitting yowls are signs that a change is on the way.