Why Does My Cat Meow All Night? [11 Reasons You Must Know]

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Why Does My Cat Meow All Night? (short answer)

Cats’ nocturnal meows are mainly driven by behavioral issues. Other aspects can lead to this exasperating behavior. Here is a complete list:

Behavioral problems:
1.  Boredom;
2.  Loneliness;
3.  A sign of aging;
4.  Feeling trapped;
5.  Stressful situations;
6.  Too much attention;
7.  Internal body clock;
8.  Lack of quality playtime;
9.  Frequent or random feeding;

Sexual impulses:
10. Hormonal imbalances (unspayed female cats in heat);

Health issues:
11. Illness or pain.

Let me guess.

You are not sleeping well at night and you are one step away from throwing your cat out the window.

After all, you are a good cat parent, right?  You feed it, you buy everything it needs, you show love… Still, you feel like it’s not worth it.

  • What happens then?
  • Why does my cat meow all night and keep me awake?  
  • What does he want from me?

These are most likely the questions that come up in your mind. Something is happening to your pet that is causing it to meow all night.

Cat meowing can happen for many reasons. Learning about the different noises cats make and what they mean will help you to better understand your pet.

In this post, you’ll discover 11 reasons why cats meow at night.

Let’s get started.

Why Does My Cat Meow All Night? (long answer)

Most nocturnal meows are triggered by emotional reasons, but other factors can also cause this annoying habit.

We can break them down into three major categories:

  • Behavioral problems;
  • Sexual impulses;
  • Health issues.

Behavioral Problems

Take also into account the darkness, stillness, loneliness, and the lack of distractions… and your cat won’t know what to do apart from meowing.

If your cat won’t stop meowing at night, a good place to start is to understand the causes.  Here are 9 reasons to consider:

  1. Boredom
  2. Loneliness
  3. A sign of aging
  4. Stressful situations
  5. Feel trapped Inside
  6. Too much Attention
  7. Internal Body Clock
  8. Lack of quality playtime
  9. Frequent or random feeding

# 1 Boredom

Why does my cat meow all night? close up of a bored white and orange striped cat resting with closed eyes
Photo by Michael Sum from Unsplash

Some cats may not get enough stimulation during the day. Especially indoor cats, who are not active enough during the day.

Naturally, they’ll be fully awake at the end of the day, and usually eager to play with you.

If you surround your cat with toys to play with and other fun activities to do throughout the day, it will likely sleep at night.

# 2 Loneliness

Photo by Wirestock from Freepik

Cat behaviorists do not recommend confining cats in a specific location at night.  Some get too bonded to their owners, and isolating them might cause loneliness and discomfort.

Perhaps you don’t want your pet to stay in your bedroom because it has other behavioral issues, such as urinating on your bed.

This is an entirely other matter though.  If your cat is spraying in improper locations in your home, maybe you want to find out what to do.

I recommend this book, which I thoroughly reviewed. You can read about it here:

Cat Spraying No More Review [8 Reasons You Should Buy It]

Back to our topic, one of the main reasons that your cat keeps meowing at night is caused by denying your pet access to you.

# 3 A Sign of Aging

Old cat sitting on the floor looking at the camera. Part of one ear is missing and he has a blind eye.
Photo by Lily Banse from Unsplash

Cats’ night vision and cognitive function decline as they age. This makes them feel vulnerable and insecure as they walk around the house.  And such anxiety is a common cause of nocturnal meowing.

Another reason could be the fact that your older pet suffers from Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). It typically means that your cat feels disoriented, cold, and unable to use its senses as effectively as it did when it was younger.

Nature is a scary place to live in, and it might cause constant meowing.

# 4 Stressful Situations

If cats are stressed, they can become more vocal:

  • A new pet,
  • The birth of a baby in the family,
  • Moving to a new house, or
  • The loss of a loved one;


All are valid reasons for your pet to meow at night.

cat resting inside a cardboard box with a hole to feel safe at night

If you’ve just moved or the layout of your house has changed a lot, your cat starts feeling anxious. Consider these factors when you are about to move to a new location:

  • natural lighting,
  • layout changes,
  • outdoor sounds,
  • neighbors,
  • and their pets.

That could be
why cats meow at night.  Your feline friend could be very scared and react to these changes by meowing.

# 5 Feeling Trapped Inside

close up of gray cat standing up with its paws grabbing the bars of a jail

If your cat likes to spend time outside and you suddenly break that routine, it may start feeling trapped. This can be a clear reason why he engages in excessive meowing.

If it is safe, consider installing a cat flap and allowing your pet to go outside at night to burn off energy. 

Otherwise, if you’re going to leave your cat inside, resist the urge to pay attention to it. Wait until it calms down. As days pass, your cat will realize the excessive meowing won’t get your attention and will give up.

# 6 Frequent or Random Feeding

Allowing them to eat whenever they want prevents their body from processing food in a normal way. 

They’re perpetually digesting, and their energy will be very unpredictable. Also, constant access to the feeder makes it overweight. If you free-feed your cat, remember that you are not doing the best for it, so don’t do it.

Quick Tip:  Avoid making drastic changes. For example, keep the dry food out, but add less and less each day for the first week, and so on. In this way, they won’t feel like they’re missing anything. Just be patient!

# 7 Too Much Attention

A cat that meows at 4 a.m. is trying to get your attention.

He or she will try various things to get it, such as:

  • Lying on you,
  • Touching your face, or
  • Meowing…

And through trial and error, he will note what is effective.

If you respond to your cat’s meows (in a good way or in a bad way) your pet will learn that this behavior works.

Even if you don’t realize it, by giving in to your cat’s attention-seeking habit, you’re teaching him to meow late at night. You are encouraging negative behavior because your feline friend can get what he wants.

# 8 Internal Body Clock

A black cat is pictured inside a watch. The night hours are represented at the top of the circle, with an image of stars and a dark background. The day hours are pictured at the bottom with a light blue background, a sun, and clouds. The twilight hours are marked in the hours corresponding to 6:00 a.m. and 6 p.m. to indicate that those are the most active hours of the cat's internal body clock.

As you know, cats are a nocturnal species (91% night activity). They are most active at dusk and dawn, making them crepuscular animals.

Their internal clock also called “circadian rhythm” guides the 24-hour sleep-wake schedule. Its primary function is to tell them when it’s time to hunt.

And these times of the day make sense because those are the hours when birds and other prey are most active.

As a result, they are more awake during these hours. Unfortunately, these are also the hours when most cat owners are sleeping.

So, what can you do if it’s something innate in them? The solution is simple, but a bit difficult to apply, meaning matches their rhythms to ours.

How do you do that?  I explain everything in this post:

How to Get My Cat to Stop Meowing at Night [6 Proven & Easy Ways]

Note: When cats are young, they are most likely guided by their internal clock. However, when they get older, they are likely to settle into their families’ sleep schedules.

# 9 Lack of Quality Playtime

Excessive nocturnal meowing might be caused by a short playtime.

Let me make this clear for a second.
Cats typically follow a pattern of playing, eating, grooming, and sleeping.

Quality playtime refers to the play sequence and it emulates what your cat would do in the wild. 

The scheme is: chase, smooth, jump, beat, and kill.  Play with your cat in a way that follows this pattern. 

A toy like this could be perfect.

Playtime is crucial so your cat stays mentally and physically active.

Most cat owners make the mistake of ending playtime before the cat is satisfied and still has some energy to burn.

Sexual Impulse

# 10 Hormonal Imbalances (Unspayed Cats in Heat)

Tricolor Female cat in heat with its tail up

Cats who haven’t been neutered may experience hormonal imbalances. When female cats reach their reproductive stage at 6 months, they have their first heat. 

This means they are ready to mate and start showing it in many ways. For example:

  • nervously scampering from side to side,
  • rubbing their head against objects,
  • rolling around on the ground,
  • raising their tails,
  • marking territory,
  • purring, and
  • meowing and yowling loud. 

Of course, the most problematic of all is the latter. Anyone who has lived with a female cat in her first heat surely understands how much this experience feels like a nightmare.

Even cats that used to be silent start night meowing the moment they are in heat.  They also spread a scent that male cats can perceive from great distances.

If you have a male cat, and there is a female in heat in the neighborhood, he will become intolerable as well.

Your female cat will do her best to catch up with her partner and express her rage with loud night-time meows and yowls in front of a closed door.

If you want to stop this behavior, there’s only one solution: spaying your cat. This will make her lose interest in male cats right away.

Doing it requires you to ask a certified veterinarian which will tell you the best time to perform the operation and its pros and cons.

Health Issues

# 11 Illness or Pain

Most cats suffer in silence and endure the pain as long as they can. This is in their nature since wild cats must not exhibit any sign of weakness to survive. 

But sometimes at night, the pain is so terrible (like it is for humans) that they express it by meowing. 

Consider these following physical problems: 

  • Pain in the internal organs;
  • Joints;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Hyperthyroidism;
  • Kidney failure;
  • Heart disease. 

All of these may cause this behavior at night.

If the reasons I’ll be showing above won’t fit your pet, your cat’s meows may be a symptom of a medical problem.  

Also, if you have an older cat, you should take it to the vet to check for neurological issues. This will make sure you can rule out any underlying medical problems that confuse or disorient it. 


Never punish your cat for meowing.  Hitting, yelling, and spraying cats with water hardly ever work at stopping a meowing cat. All these actions will make your cat fearful, if not hostile.

Always rule out any medical conditions and make sure your cat’s needs are being met.

Now that you know the reasons… It’s time for you to find the right step-by-step process to end this annoying behavior.

Read the article below so you can finally sleep at night:

How to Get My Cat to Stop Meowing at Night [6 Proven & Easy Ways]

Thank you for reading.

Are You Fed up With Your Cat’s Bad Behaviors?

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