Meowing is a normal part of a cat’s behaviour, but it is unique to their relationship with humans. Indeed, while cats often use purring, yowling, hissing, or chirping noises in nature, they only meow around humans. It’s a special type of communication that they developed just for us!
Meowing usually indicates that your cat is trying to tell you something. Either they need or want something (such as food or attention), or they just want to let you know how they’re feeling (perhaps they’re content, or on the contrary, they’re anxious…).
What do I do if my cat won't stop meowing?
It’s important not to ignore your cat, as they could seriously need your help! The first step is to pinpoint what is causing your cat to meow, and then to address the problem accordingly.
So, before you try any behavioural modification, take your cat to the vet’s. Often, cats will meow when they are in pain or discomfort. A meowing cat would be suffering from an overactive thyroid or from kidney disease for example.
Once you have eliminated the possibility that your cat is sick, here’s what you can do if your cat won’t stop meowing.
What to do if your cat won't stop meowing for treats
Some cats meow as soon as you walk into the kitchen, or they’ll come wake you up in the early morning when they know it’s chow time! If you have ever responded to your cat’s meowing by feeding them, then there’s no mystery as to why they do this! They have learned that by meowing, they receive food from you.
The only way to amend this behaviour is by no longer responding to their meowing. In fact, the best thing to do would be to get an automatic feeder which will feed your cat a specific amount 2 to 3 times a day. This will teach your cat that they can no longer depend on you to feed them and so, meowing excessively at you when they want food is pointless. Needless to say, it’s probably best to refrain from feeding your cat scraps from the table as this will only encourage them to continue the behaviour while you eat.
What to do if your cat won't stop meowing for attention
Similarly to meowing for food, this is a learned behaviour. If your cat has ever received attention (good or bad) after meowing at you, then they’ve learned meowing = attention.
Again, the best way to stop this is to stop responding to your cat’s demands altogether. Ignore your cat when they’re meowing and wait until they’re silent to give them attention. Over time, they’ll learn that being quiet = cuddles.
What to do if your cat won't stop meowing at the door
Some cats meow as soon as they’re faced with a closed door. In this case they’re basically telling you: “open up!”, but there could be several explanations for this.
Firstly - your cat wants to be near you! Unfortunately, many people think that cats are much more independent than dogs and don’t need as much love and company from their humans. But this is simply not true! Some cats love to follow their owners around and a closed door means they can’t be next to you. If you don’t want your cat following you into the bathroom or your bedroom for example, the only way to stop their meowing at the door is to ignore it. When you do open the door back up, make sure it’s at a moment when your cat has stopped meowing. Over time, your cat will learn that their meowing doesn’t get them anywhere, and that in fact, it’s when they’re quiet that the door opens up again. Hopefully they will learn to stop their meowing at the door. However, if the meowing doesn’t stop and seems excessive, it could be indicative of separation anxiety, in which case it’s a good idea to get in touch with a behaviourist.
Another explanation for meowing at a closed door is that your cat is feeling bored and is hoping that you’ll be able to entertain them with whatever you’re up to on the other side. To avoid boredom, make sure your cat receives plenty of attention during the day (when they’re not meowing for it of course). Stimulate them mentally by providing lots of fun games and toys for them to play with.
Of course, meowing behind a closed door could also mean that they want something on the other side (other than you) - maybe their litter box for example - in which case, you better open up! Make sure you’re never blocking access to any of your cat’s “vital” things, such as their favourite toys, beds, or scratching posts. And if your cat meows at the garden door, then the best solution is to install a cat flap so they can come in and out of the house as they please.
What to do if your cat won't stop meowing at night
Again, there could be various different explanations for this. Firstly, cats are naturally nocturnal creatures, so it is quite normal for them to be more active at night.
However, if your cat is meowing excessively, it could be that they’re starting to suffer from old age. Indeed, some senior cats start meowing at night due to confusion caused by feline dementia, or by increasing blindness for example. A night light and a hormone diffuser might help to soothe your cat in this situation, but you should consult a vet anyway, just to be on the safe side.
What to do if your cat won't stop meowing after moving
If your cat is meowing a lot after moving, they are probably very disoriented and feeling stressed.
During the first few days in your new house, confine your cat to just one room, increasing the amount of rooms they have access to over time. This will give your cat time to adjust slowly. While your cat is confined, rub a cloth on their face, then rub this cloth at cat-height all around the furniture of the house - this will help your cat feel more at home when they start exploring their new environment. Again, you can help to soothe your cat’s nerves by providing a hormone diffuser, but you should discuss the best option for your pet with your veterinarian.
Remember, some cats meow just because they’re happy to see you or they’re particularly chatty (Siamese cats, for example, LOVE to talk)! However, when in doubt, never hesitate to ask a professional for their opinion.