Cats have developed the meow purely for us humans.  They know we’ll respond, and they milk it for all its worth.  They meow for a variety of reasons but mainly it’s to get attention.

Before we investigate why cats meow, if your cat has suddenly started this behaviour at odd times of the day (and usually, just as we go to bed is a favourite time) it’s a good idea to take him to the vet to have him checked over.  He may have an underlying health problem or be in pain.  If he gets a clean bill of health, then there may be other reasons why your cat has started doing this.

Generally, a cat that meows wants something.  This could be food, attention, or to have access to a room (or cupboard) that is off limits or just to be in the same room as you.  A cat will often meow quite plaintively until you cave in and give him what he wants.

If you’ve just gone to bed and your cats starts meowing, it’s very likely that he wants to be with you.  You have two choices here: either open the door or ignore him.   Depending on your will power this could be a long night! If you are adamant that under no circumstances – absolutely none! – that he is not going to share your bed, then you’ll need earplugs to drown out the meows because it could be a while before he realises that the bedroom door is remaining closed.

Eventually, he’ll get the message and will stop crying.  When you first start to ignore his cries, he might initially intensify them so that they sound like he is being murdered (this is when you know what fiendishly clever little beings cats truly are!) and it’s important not to give in at his point.  When he finally realises that his crying is in vain, his attention-seeking behaviour should start to reduce until eventually, it will be removed from his behavioural repertoire.

If your cat is an older cat, it could be signs of dementia (yes, cats do get dementia).  He could be confused and wonder where he is, or where you are.  All he needs is reassurance.  Pick him up, give him a cuddle and talk to him gently, stroke him to make him feel calm again, and then put him back in his bed, or on the sofa – or wherever he was.

Just feel privileged that cats have developed this ‘language’ as a means of communicating with us, and we, in turn, have a duty of care to interpret their carefully orchestrated meows to be manipulated for the rest of our lives.  What a joy!

A Cats Purr

"Cats make one of the most satisfying sounds in the world: they purr ...

A purring cat is a form of high praise, like a gold star on a test paper. It is reinforcement of something we would all like to believe about ourselves - that we are nice."

Roger A Caras

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