Is It Ok To Ignore My Cat Meowing?

Cats Meow for a Reason

Cats meow to communicate a variety of needs and emotions. Meowing is a natural feline behavior that starts in kittenhood as a way to get a mother cat’s attention and care (source). As cats grow up, they continue to meow to express hunger, discomfort, loneliness, anxiety, and more. Meowing also serves as a social greeting or bonding behavior between cats and their human companions.

Since meowing is a cat’s way to communicate basic needs or seek comfort, completely ignoring all meowing could lead to frustration, stress or other issues. It’s important to try to understand the meaning behind your cat’s vocalizations.

Understand the Meanings Behind Meows

Cats use meowing as a way to communicate with humans. While each cat is different, there are some common meanings behind different types of meows.

Hungry meows often sound urgent and repetitive as a cat asks for food. These meows may get louder and more persistent if a cat is very hungry. Affectionate meows tend to sound more melodic and soothing as a cat greets you or asks for attention and petting.

Meows can also signal distress, anxiety, or boredom. Anxious meows may sound more mournful and drawn-out. Bored cats may meow persistently for activity or attention. Pay attention to the tone and frequency of meows to better understand your cat’s needs.

For example, urgent or repetitive meowing can mean a cat is in pain or otherwise needs immediate care. Plaintive or sad-sounding meows can be a sign of distress. Happier trill-like meows often show contentment. Understanding the meaning behind different meows allows cat owners to better provide for their cats’ needs.

When You Shouldn’t Ignore Meowing

If your cat’s meowing is excessive or abnormal for them, it’s a good idea not to ignore it. For example, if your usually quiet cat has suddenly started meowing constantly or for prolonged periods, this vocal change could indicate an underlying issue (PetMD, 2023). Excessive meowing that persists nonstop should not be ignored, as it may indicate a serious health problem that requires veterinary attention (PetMD).

Additionally, meowing accompanied by other concerning symptoms like appetite changes, lethargy, excessive drinking/urinating, or apparent pain is cause for alarm and should be promptly addressed (PetMD). Such associated symptoms alongside increased meowing may signify your cat is ill and urgently requires medical care (LA Vets). Don’t ignore your cat’s cries for help if their behavior and appearance seem off.

Finally, meowing triggered by environmental stressors like recent moves, construction noises, or the addition of a new pet should also not be brushed aside. While these scenarios may understandably cause your cat distress, ignoring their pleas may allow the problem to worsen. Address the root cause of their unease or consult your vet if meowing persists despite your efforts (LA Vets). With patience and care, you can find a solution that helps your cat feel more comfortable in their surroundings.

When It’s OK to Ignore Meowing

It can be okay to ignore meowing in certain situations, especially if it seems your cat is attention-seeking or demanding food at odd hours. For example, if your cat is meowing persistently for attention, but appears perfectly healthy and content otherwise, it may be fine to ignore the meows (1). Giving in to attention-seeking meows can reinforce the behavior. Similarly, if your cat is begging for food outside of their normal meal times, it’s usually best not to respond with food as this can lead to obesity or digestive issues (2).

Meowing at night can also potentially be ignored, provided your cat has access to food, water, litter, comfort, and is sleeping near you already. If kitty is meowing next to you while you’re trying to sleep, and all their basic needs seem met, it may be ok to gently shush them or briefly pet them to settle down before ignoring further nighttime meows. However, persistent or distressed night vocalizations should not be ignored.

The key is ensuring your cat’s basic needs are met, and distinguishing between attention-seeking meows versus cries indicating hunger, pain, anxiety or other issues requiring a response. If in doubt about the cause or meaning behind meows, it’s better to err on the side of responding.

Alternatives to Ignoring Meows

Instead of ignoring a cat’s meows, there are some positive alternatives that can help meet their needs. Redirecting your cat’s attention with playtime or cuddles is one option. Cats often meow for attention and interaction, so providing engaging play sessions with wand toys or laser pointers can redirect their energy in a productive way ( Offering affection and cuddles when they meow can also help them feel comforted.

Making sure your cat has adequate outlets for natural scratching and hunting behaviors is another alternative. Provide scratching posts, cardboard scratchers, and interactive cat toys to give appropriate scratching surfaces and hunting opportunities ( Rotate toys to keep your cat mentally stimulated.

Using treats and positive reinforcement is also effective. When your cat meows for food or attention, redirect them to do a trick or preferred behavior first before rewarding with a treat. This can teach them more appropriate ways to get your attention.

Ensure Needs are Met

Cats have some basic needs that must be met in order to keep them happy and healthy. As a cat owner, it’s important to provide the following:

  • Feed nutritious meals on a schedule – Cats do best on a routine feeding schedule. Feed your cat a complete and balanced diet formulated specifically for cats based on their life stage. Sticking to a schedule prevents overeating. Give your cat access to fresh, clean water at all times. (
  • Provide fresh water – Cats are prone to dehydration, so provide plenty of fresh, clean water that is changed daily. Use a water bowl rather than a water bottle. Place water bowls in multiple locations around the house. (
  • Clean litter box regularly – Scoop solid waste from litter boxes daily. Completely change out the litter at least once a week, or more often depending on use and number of cats. Provide 1+ litter box per cat plus an extra. Place boxes in quiet, accessible spots. (
  • Give love, playtime, and environmental enrichment – Cats need mental stimulation and interacting with their owners. Set aside dedicated playtime, provide engaging toys, install cat furniture for climbing and perching. Cats benefit from routines and predictability. (

When to See the Vet

If your cat’s excessive meowing is paired with changes in other behaviors that could indicate illness or injury, it’s a good idea to make a vet appointment.

Some signs that increased meowing warrants a checkup include:

  • Persistent increased vocalization over days or weeks
  • Meowing paired with changes in appetite, activity levels, or litter box habits
  • Meowing that seems like it’s due to distress or pain
  • Meowing that occurs at night or prevents sleep
  • Dramatic increase in meowing or a change in type of meow

Excessive and persistent meowing can sometimes indicate an underlying medical issue like dental disease, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or something else. It’s a good idea to make a vet appointment to rule out any medical causes.

According to one source, “Any excessive behavior that represents a change from the norm should be evaluated by a veterinarian to diagnose and treat any underlying disease early, when it is most treatable.” (source)

Managing Anxiety or Stress

If your cat is exhibiting signs of anxiety or stress such as hiding, aggression, excessive vocalization, or inappropriate urination, there are some steps you can take to help them feel more calm and content.

Try using calming aids like synthetic pheromones or medications if recommended by your veterinarian. Products like Feliway contain feline facial pheromones that can help reduce anxiety, while medications like fluoxetine or clomipramine can be prescribed for severe anxiety or obsessive behaviors. Always consult your vet before giving any medications.[1]

Maintaining a consistent daily routine can also minimize anxiety triggers. Feed your cat at the same times each day, avoid schedule disruptions when possible, and don’t make abrupt changes to their environment that could seem threatening.

Providing safe, private places for your cat to hide can help them relax. Let them retreat to their carrier, a cubby hole, or cat tower when they need alone time. The added security of these spaces can alleviate stress.

Providing Adequate Exercise & Play

Cats need daily exercise and playtime to stay physically and mentally stimulated. Schedule at least two 15-20 minute interactive play sessions per day with your cat using wands, laser pointers, or toys that encourage chasing and pouncing. This allows your cat to act on their natural hunting instincts. According to cat experts, playing with your cat reduces stress and anxiety while providing important bonding time.

When you can’t directly engage with your cat, offer puzzles like treat balls and boards that promote physical activity. Rotating toys keeps your cat from getting bored. Place toys throughout your home so your cat can play when alone. Provide scratching posts, carpeted cat trees, and window perches to climb and scratch.

If your cat seems understimulated, consider adopting another pet. Cats can keep each other company and interact when you’re not available. Introduce a new cat slowly and properly to ensure they get along. With adequate playtime, exercise, and enrichment, your cat will stay happier and healthier.

When to Consider Training

For cats that meow excessively, especially at night, consider positive reinforcement training to shape quiet behavior. Cats often meow at night out of boredom or demanding food. Try timed feeding so your cat associates food with set meal times, not meowing.

Use treats, play, and affection to reward quiet behavior. When your cat meows, ignore them until they stop, then immediately reward. This teaches them meowing gets no response, but being quiet does. Consult a professional trainer or veterinarian for advice on effective techniques. With time and consistency, training can curb excessive meowing.

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