What Does It Mean When Your Cat Meows for No Reason?

Meowing is part of a cat’s DNA. Some frequently vocalize, while others barely make a sound. However, it’s worrying when a cat starts meowing for no apparent reason. It could indicate a health or environmental issue.

If you can’t find the reason why your cat meows, it’s likely hungry, thirsty, seeking attention, or exhibiting an emotion such as fear, loneliness, or stress. Look at your cat’s environment to see whether something’s upsetting it. Alternatively, meowing signifies a health condition or injury. Check your cat over for any signs of pain or discomfort. Of course, your cat could simply be saying hello.

Even though you might not find a reason for your cat’s vocalizations, there’s bound to be one. If you’re attempting to find the cause, look for changes in your cat’s behavior, no matter how small or insignificant they may be.

Why Is My Cat Meowing Non-Stop?

There might be instances when you ask yourself: “why is my cat meowing so much all of a sudden?” While it might seem like there’s no explanation for your cat’s meowing, it’s rarely done for fun.

Cats meow to communicate with their owners, so it’s up to you to determine whether something’s wrong or whether your cat wants more attention. If your cat meows randomly for no reason, it’s likely due to the following:


If you notice your cat constantly meowing for food, it’s either hungry or trying its luck for a tasty treat. If it’s the latter, your cat will meow whenever you go into the kitchen or wherever its treats are stored.

On the other hand, you might not be feeding your cat enough. Some cats find that two meals a day adequately satisfy their hunger, while some prefer smaller meals served several times throughout the day.

Similarly, if your cat loves its food, it might meow more as its scheduled mealtimes approach. This behavior shouldn’t be encouraged, so wait until your cat quietens down before putting the food dish down.

Other food-related issues that can cause seemingly random meowing include:

  • Malnutrition from poor-quality food
  • Thyroid issues
  • Worms or parasites
  • Cancer
  • Fear of starvation

Keep an eye on any symptoms that might provide a viable reason for your cat’s meowing.


Your cat is likely to meow more often if it’s thirsty or dehydrated. The most common reason for this is because the cat doesn’t have access to fresh water or any at all.

In this case, your cat’s alerting you that it needs hydration. Meowing acts as a form of begging. Because cats don’t drink water very often, it’s not always easy to tell when your cat’s not getting enough.

  • Fever or infection
  • Kidney failure
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Salty food
  • Overheating
  • Blood loss

Environmental Problems

If your cat’s environment isn’t suitable enough, it’ll respond by meowing. This is the only way your cat can communicate with you that it’s not happy. Several environmental issues can cause your cat to meow with an apparent reason, including:

  • An unclean litter tray that smells unpleasant
  • Not enough places to hide
  • Too much noise in the house
  • Other aggressive pets
  • The house is too hot or cold

All cats are unique, and they have different environmental requirements. What makes one cat happy won’t work for another, so monitor your cat’s temperament and demeanor for any signs of unhappiness within the home.

Accident or Injury

Cats that have access to the outdoors are active animals and enjoy roaming around their neighborhood. While jumping on and off fences, walls, and other obstacles, it’s relatively easy for them to pick up joint or bone injuries. Cuts and scrapes are also common, as are injuries from fights with other cats.

Cats hide pain well. Unless you can see obvious signs of injury, your cat’s vocalizations are sometimes the only way to tell your cat’s hurt itself.

If your cat starts meowing without an apparent reason, check it over for any signs of swelling, dried blood, or sensitive spots that make your cat cry out in discomfort. If you can’t find anything, take your pet to the vet for a thorough examination regardless.

Health Condition or Disease

Cats are prone to several health issues. Meowing could be your cat’s way of telling you. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the most common cat conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Feline Leukaemia Virus (FelV)
  • Heartworm
  • High-Rise Syndrome
  • Rabies
  • Ringworm
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Worms

While some of these diseases and conditions are serious, they’re rare in healthy cats. However, that’s not to say your cat couldn’t develop a health condition at some point in its life. If your cat starts meowing more often, it’s always best to take it to the vet for a check-up.

Seeking Attention

Not all cats are aloof. Some cats love attention and can’t bear to be away from their owners. If you aren’t giving your cat enough affection, your cat will meow to tell you.

However, if you cater to your cat’s every wish and whim, it’ll begin to learn that meowing is enough to get your attention and will do so more often. This can make your cat badly behaved if you’re not careful.

If you’ve been able to determine that your cat’s not suffering from a medical condition or injury, it’s likely a behavioral issue. To prevent your cat from meowing, you could encourage it to stop by ignoring it. 

Emotional Response

Even though cats have a reputation for being aloof and standoffish, they’re capable of feeling an entire spectrum of emotions. If you know your cat’s not unwell or injured, it’s likely meowing in response to an emotional stimulus.


Not all cats are brave and confident. Some are more naturally scared than others. Many things can make your cat afraid, including disruption to its routine, a noisy environment, fear of predators, and separation anxiety.

While cats can hide their fear by hiding and fleeing, meowing often betrays their true feelings. You should be able to tell whenever your cat’s scared, as it’ll keep its ears flat to its head, hunch its back, and its fur will stand on end.

why is my cat meowing so much all of a sudden?


If your cat’s formed a strong bond with you, it’s likely meowing to stay hello, especially if your cat frequently meows at you as you walk through the door. Short, high-pitched sounds are a greeting. This is a positive vocalization that indicates your cat’s pleased to see you.

Alternatively, your cat could be bored and wants to play with you. Cats that feel neglected or left out are most likely to meow more often and will vocalize to gain your attention.


Though cats hide their feelings well and come across as the epitome of cool, they get stressed out. Feline stress has multiple origins, and different things act as triggers, depending on the cat’s personality and temperament.

You must dedicate yourself to minimizing these stressors to provide a happy, healthy life for it. Some of the most common stress triggers include:

  • A sudden change in routine
  • Loud noises
  • Inappropriate or unwanted handling
  • Repressed instincts
  • Bullying or dominance
  • Being ignored by their owner
  • The location of food and water

In truth, anything can be a stress trigger for your cat – it depends on its personality. If your cat starts meowing more often, look for anything that could be stressing your cat out.


In the absence of health conditions, non-stop meowing is a sign of loneliness. Sadly, cats can feel lonely, particularly if their owners are away from home all day and they have no other pets to play with. While games and toys are a short-term form of entertainment, nothing beats quality time with their owners. Other signs of loneliness include:

  • Clinginess and neediness
  • Increased grooming
  • Hairballs
  • Destructive tendencies
  • Changes in behavior
  • Spraying
  • Loss of appetite

When you’re at home, make sure you spend plenty of time interacting and socializing with your cat to make it feel less lonely. Leaving the TV or radio on while you’re at work might also help. Alternatively, you could always consider getting your cat a friend.

I Just Adopted a Cat and It Won’t Stop Meowing

If your adopted cat keeps meowing for no reason, it’s likely doing so out of fear and anxiety. Moving to a new home and meeting new owners is a stressful process, so it’s normal for your cat to vocalize its distress. Don’t panic ­– your cat’s simply getting used to its new life. These are the most likely reasons for your cat’s meows:

Getting Used to Surroundings

It’ll take your adopted cat a bit of time to get used to its new surroundings. While it’s scoping out its new environment, it’s more than likely to meow to relieve its anxiety. This should hopefully subside as it becomes more comfortable, but you can help your cat feel more at home by:

  • Restricting it to one cat-proofed room at first
  • Isolating the cat from all other animals
  • Putting the litter tray, food, and water in the same room
  • Moving at your cat’s pace and only giving it access to the rest of the house when it’s ready

By following these steps, your cat will eventually start to see your home as its own.

It Doesn’t Know You Yet

Similar to its new house, your adopted cat doesn’t know you yet. That’s why you might find it frequently meows at first. It’ll take time, effort, and patience to build a bond with your cat, but it’s not impossible to do.

You’ll need to give your cat plenty of space. Don’t smother it with affection as soon as you get it, but speak in high-pitched tones and play with your cat every now and then. Feeding the occasional treat is another good way to gain your cat’s trust.

You’ll also need to let your cat initiate the bonding process, which could take a few weeks. Don’t be disheartened by this – keep providing your cat with a happy, comfortable environment, and it’ll eventually come around.

Also, realize when you need to take a step back. If your cat meows out of fear or anxiety, it’s time to take the bonding process slower.

Traumatic Past

Adopted cats commonly come from traumatic backgrounds. Some are routinely abused by their owners, while others are bullied by other, more aggressive pets. Similarly, if you’ve adopted a stray cat from the streets, it’ll have its guard up to protect itself. As a result, you’ll notice frequent meowing. This is usually accompanied by other behaviors, such as hissing and swiping.

Unfortunately, this meowing could seem pretty random if you don’t know your cat’s history. Assume the worst and work on building a solid bond with your cat. Depending on how traumatic your cat’s past is, your new pet may always suffer from trust issues, so this is something to be mindful of.

Cat Won’t Stop Meowing At Night

Non-stop night-time meowing can be annoying, especially while you’re trying to sleep. This is normal, as cats are crepuscular, which means they’re more active at low-light periods of early morning and early evening.

Most cats sleep throughout the day and spring into action when the sun starts to set or rise. Unfortunately, this means our sleeping patterns aren’t always in sync. To try and minimize your cat’s meowing at night:

  • Never reward its behavior, as this will only encourage it further
  • Ignore your cat’s meowing and let it stop naturally
  • Play with your cat as much as possible during the evenings to tire it out
  • Provide stimulation for your cat throughout the day
  • Shut your cat out of your bedroom at night
  • Don’t punish your cat, as you’ll make the behavior worse

Another reason for non-stop after-dark meowing is because your cat wants to go outside to roam and hunt. While some owners prefer to keep their cats as strictly indoor pets, consider whether your cat would benefit more from going outside.

There’s a good chance your cat could feel trapped from not having access to the outside world, so your cat relies on its vocalizations to get what it wants.

Lastly, if your cat’s senses start to deteriorate, it likely struggles to navigate its way around the house at night, causing fear and anxiety. This is another reason why your cat starts to meow more frequently at night. Leaving a dim night light on will help your cat get its bearings. 

Cat Meowing Non-Stop in Heat

If you own an unspayed female cat that starts meowing suddenly for no apparent reason, it’s highly likely in heat. The reason she meows so much is that she’s attempting to attract a male to mate with. Meowing is a way for her to let local tomcats know she’s available to mate.

Your cat has a biological drive to mate, and while her hormones are all over the place, she’ll stop at nothing to achieve this. Doing so defies her instincts. If you’re unsure whether your cat’s in heat, check for these signs:

  • Constant marking around the house
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to settle
  • Excessive grooming of the genitals
  • Desperation to escape the home
  • Increased affection toward you

You’ll notice that your cat becomes more vocal after dark. This is because the streets are much quieter and emptier than in the day.

Your cat will also make loud, ear-piercing wails, which can sound as if she’s in pain. This is distressing for owners to hear and often causes an element of concern. This sound isn’t meowing but caterwauling. Thankfully, it’s completely normal and a natural part of your cat’s mating process. To keep your cat comfortable while she’s in heat:

  • Stick to a routine to show her that nothing’s changed
  • Distract her with toys and puzzles
  • Provide calming music and scents

Aside from spaying your cat, all you can do is wait for her to be out of heat and make her as comfortable as possible during the process. You’ll also need to keep her inside if you don’t want her to get pregnant. Unfortunately, this will mean a short period of persistent meowing and wailing.

Hang in there, as your cat’s hormones will eventually go back to normal, and the caterwauling will cease.

Cat Won’t Stop Meowing After Giving Birth

Immediately after giving birth, your cat’s primary goal is to look after and protect her kittens. During this process, her instincts will take over, and she’ll move her kittens around quite a lot as soon as they’ve been born.

Most of the time, cats are healthy after birth. But excessive meowing indicates your cat’s in pain or suffering from a health condition. The most common is galactostasis, which is where the mammary glands become full and swollen. This causes extreme discomfort and prevents the mother cat from nursing her kittens.

Another potential issue is mastitis, which is a related condition where the mammary glands become infected. Affected cats experience:

  • Brown or reddish milk
  • Inability or refusal to nurse
  • Loss of appetite
  • Listlessness

In this case, your cat’s body is attempting to fight off the infection. Finally, if the cat’s placenta doesn’t deliver properly during the birthing process, the animal’s likely to develop an infection. Keep an eye on your pet for any signs of distress, such as non-stop meowing, and take your cat to the vet immediately.

Meowing isn’t always a sign of pain or discomfort. If the environment isn’t suitable for your cat or her kittens, she’ll vocalize to tell you. Pay attention to her meows, as you might need to move the cats to a different place in the house.

My Old Cat Meows for No Reason

As cats become older, they often start displaying a range of strange behaviors that don’t make sense to their owners. While it’s common for aging cats to start vocalizing more often, frequent meowing could be the sign of an issue that requires medical attention.

If your cat begins yowling and letting out a distressing cry of distress, pain, or grief, get the problem looked at by your vet to rule out anything sinister.

While sudden meowing isn’t always something to worry about, old cats are likely to do so for the following reasons:

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

As cats get older and their senses decline, they’re more at risk of developing cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

Cats with a neurological condition sometimes develop feline Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, causing their cognitive abilities to deteriorate. This is why some cats meow more frequently in response to the situation. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome affects:

  • Memory
  • Perception
  • Spatial awareness
  • Learning abilities
  • The ability to acquire information about the environment

Cats with the condition start to display several repetitive behaviors. They also develop:

  • Increased grooming
  • Frequent meowing
  • Aimless pacing or wandering
  • Altered interest in food
  • Confusion about what time it is

As mentioned, these behaviors are likely to be more amplified at night-time when cats struggle to see as well as in the day.


Also known as thyrotoxicosis, hyperthyroidism is a condition affecting the thyroid glands. It causes them to produce too much of the thyroxine hormone. The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery describes how it’s the most common feline endocrine disorder.

It’s also a common cause of morbidity in cats older than 10. It’s estimated that 10% of all senior cats will develop the disorder. Alongside frequent, apparently random meowing, cats with the condition suffer from:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Greasy, unkempt, or matted fur

There are various treatments available, which can help with your cat’s excessive meowing.


Hyperthyroidism often leads to hypertension, which is the medical term for high blood pressure. As described by VCA Hospitals, cats develop hypertension when their systolic blood pressure increases to 160mm Hg or above.

Hypertension is common in older cats, particularly if they’re overweight or obese. Sadly, cats with high blood pressure tend to howl and meow more frequently, which are both signs of distress.

Another tell-tale sign of the condition is that the cat suddenly loses its sight or struggles with poor vision.

cat walks around meowing for no reason

Central Nervous System Disease

Neurological issues and brain or spinal tumors can cause your aging cat to meow without an apparent reason. Neurological disorders occur when the nervous system becomes disrupted. Seizures sometimes develop as a result, making the cat seem particularly unwell. Other primary symptoms of a central nervous disorder in cats include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Paralysis
  • Numbness
  • Chronic pain

When cats go through neurological issues, they undergo behavioral changes and howl, yowl, and cry at night. This is common in cats with nervous system disorders.


As cats get older, their risk of joint pain caused by osteoarthritis (stiff joints) increases. It was found that 90% of cats over 12 years of age suffered from some kind of degenerative joint disease, which is responsible for your cat’s vocalizations.

However, it’s not always easy to tell when cats are in pain as they hide it to keep themselves safe. Sick cats are vulnerable cats, and sometimes the only way to know that they’re in pain is through their changing meowing behavior.

Similarly, if your cat has weak bones, a bad jump could cause a twinge or minor fracture. This is why you’ll notice your cat meowing more often.

Sensory Decline

It’s only natural that your cat will lose some of its senses as it grows older, specifically its sight, sense of smell, and hearing. This will cause it to become confused and disorientated, particularly when it gets dark.

If your cat can’t tell where you are, it might meow out of fear and try to locate you. If it howls, it’s in distress and is the result of its sensory function decline.


Some older cats meow because they need reassurance from their owners. If you respond by stroking or petting your cat, it’ll meow more to get your attention. Older cats are most likely to do this because their senses are in decline. Cats suffering from health issues might also feel mentally better with their owners nearby.  

There’s almost always a reason for your cat’s non-stop meowing, even if you haven’t worked out what it is. Health conditions, injuries, or declining senses are all likely explanations. But before thinking about the worst-case scenario, check your cat’s environment and remove any stressful triggers that could be causing it to meow in displeasure.

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Richard Parker

I'm Richard, the lead writer for Senior Cat Wellness. I'm experienced in all cat health-related matters, behavioral issues, grooming techniques, and general pet care. I'm a proud owner of 5 adult cats (all adopted strays), including a senior cat who is now 20.

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