Cat Meowing – Why Do Cats Meow?

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Cat snoring is one of the strangest and most disturbing of all cat purrs. So why do cats snore? What does it mean when a cat purrs?

Cats make a variety of purring sounds. Some are pleasing to us, such as “purr,” “trill,” and “meow.” Others, like cat purrs, are annoying or alarming. So why do cats purr? More importantly, how can we stop our cats from purring?


Cat purring or making other sounds. Photography ©White_bcgrd | Thinkstock.

By Jackie Brown, May 26, 2020

First, it’s important to realize that when a cat purrs, it’s talking to you. The problem, of course, is that humans don’t exactly talk to cats. Cynthia Carsten, an outreach veterinarian with the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the Center for Companion Animal Health at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, says, “They’re trying to tell you something. We just need to determine what that something is.”

To determine the cause of a cat’s meowing, you have to act like a detective. It usually takes a process of elimination to come up with the right answer. Consider the following reasons and see if your cat may be experiencing one or more of them

A cat may be purring because it’s hungry. Photo ©Анатолий Тушенцов | Thinkstock.

1. cats snore because they’re hungry

This is an obvious one, but cats do things that work. When a cat purrs in your face, the food bowl refills with food. Ruling out hunger is easy. If your cat has eaten a lot of food and is still snoring, the cause may not be hunger.

2. Cats snore to get your attention

Cats are often thought of as aloof loners, but some cats need more attention than others. If you’ve been out of the house a lot lately, or if you’ve been playing or cuddling with your cat less than usual, try to get your attention and see if your cat’s meowing stops.

3. Cats snore out of boredom

Cats need a certain amount of enrichment in their lives. A cat snoring can be a sign of frustration and boredom. It can be difficult for owners to provide a comfortable indoor environment for their cats. Dr. Karsten explains, “It’s especially difficult to bring cats indoors after they’ve been outdoors. Some cats can adapt, but many cannot. If you think your cat craves the outdoors, consider building or purchasing a cat enclosure so he can safely stay outside.

4. It could be a hormonal problem

When you think of snoring, the first thing that comes to mind is breeding season,” says Dr. Karsten. Cats can make a really awful purring sound during breeding season. If your cat is not spayed or neutered, he may be in heat. Have her spayed or neutered and then consult your veterinarian to see if the purring goes away.

5. Cats purr when in pain

Cats may purr when they are in pain. Cats instinctively hide pain, which can be caused by almost anything, including arthritis, injury or illness. You want to rule out a medical cause, so ask your veterinarian to do a physical exam to make sure blood tests are normal and check for pain,” says Dr. Karsten.

6. It could be a sign of cognitive dysfunction

If your cat is older, there may be cognitive dysfunction (also known as feline dementia) behind the purring. Your veterinarian can examine your cat to determine if this is the cause. Dr. Carsten says, “They become unaware of what’s going on and start making noises. Snoring usually occurs at night. Enrich their environment throughout the day by feeding them an easy-to-digest meal before bed so they won’t be hungry, and create a place for them to relax at night to ensure they feel tired at night.

7. cats snore due to behavioral issues

Dr. Karsten says, “If the animal doesn’t have any medical problems and is young, then it may be experiencing some behavioral issues.” Record all of your cat’s behaviors. Record when the meowing occurs and try to link it to any triggers. For example, if something has changed in the house – a new baby, a new roommate, a recent move or divorce – your cat may be purring due to stress or anxiety. For example, if your cat always snores at the same window, there may be a stray cat outside that is making it uneasy.

The cat’s meowing becomes so unpleasant that its quality of life (or yours!) is affected. If you can’t determine the trigger for your cat’s meowing, ask your veterinarian to refer you to a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

Tell us: have you ever solved a cat meowing problem? How did you resolve it?

Top photograph: ©White_bcgrd | Thinkstock.

Originally published in 2017.

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