So your cat wakes you up at night meowing and you want to know why do cats cry at night?. In reality, there is no single reason for a cat’s meow during the night. By meowing, the cat wants to tell us something and not prevent us from sleeping! For the cat, it is a means of communication with humans and it understands that certain sounds attract our attention.
If your cat starts meowing while you are sleeping peacefully, there could be several reasons such as:
- the desire to go out
- a feeling of worry or anxiety
- the habit of hormonal fluctuations
Keeping the last point as an expectation, if your cat wakes up at night due to any other point above, you can kiss your sleep goodbye. That is, until you read what you need to do to prevent it.
3 Reasons Explaining Why Do Cats Cry At Night
Why does my cat cry during the night or early morning hours?
All cat adopters can confirm that kitties tend to be more active at two specific times of the day: in the evening as well as very early in the morning. This trend is even more noticeable in cats that live mainly outdoors as well as in teenage kittens and young adults.
This is due to the crepuscular nature of cats. Crepuscular animals are more active at the beginning and end of the night and they sleep mainly during the day. The small prey that cats feed on in nature is also crepuscular, which explains why small felines have adopted this way of life. And sometimes, living room felines will also instinctively respect this rhythm of sleep-wakefulness, as long as they have not decided to copy the rhythm of their human life.
This characteristic, although normal for the cat, can, however, lead to big problems in a home, since humans, of a diurnal nature, are active during the day and generally want to sleep at night. The cat who wakes up around 3 am finds himself alone in the house and will then decide to take care of… as best he can! He will try behaviors, make trial and error, and he will repeat the behaviors that will have brought him something that he considers as “paying”.
What can happen later, unfortunately, is that the humans in the house react, without wanting to do anything bad, or without even realizing it. Their interventions can then lead to a chain reaction that will lead to a rather unpleasant problem with nocturnal awakenings.
Here are 3 errors that lead to increased cat cries during nighttime:
Number 1, you assume the cat is crying at night because he is hungry:
If the cat that lives outside is more active along with its prey, there is no way to know if it is really hunger that is waking it up. So if your cat wakes up at 3 a.m. and starts to cry at night, it’s tough to prove that he is hungry. Even if he/she is really hungry, it is not a few more hours of waiting for breakfast that will harm a cat who regularly eats its well-balanced ration. The fatal mistake in this situation is therefore to get up and feed your cat when it meows in the early hours of the morning or in the middle of the night. If the problem of meowing is temporarily resolved, the cat will however learn that if it meows, it is receiving food.
And the food is a great reward! Surely the cat will start again the next morning!
Of course, some cats may be really hungry in the morning and wake up just because of it. One way to limit this problem is to feed our kitty in an interactive station, just before going to bed. By having to work to access its food, the cat eats more slowly and only if it is really hungry. He might even leave a little, which he can eat when he wakes up in the night.
Number 2, your new kitten wakes us up at night by scratching the door:
No matter what the behavior, cats are great at finding attention-seeking behaviors, especially if the goal is to wake us up to get our attention. By not meeting their request in the middle of the night, we make the kitten understand that at night, we sleep. Obviously, when the kitten is awake during the day, we will make sure to spend time with it and play with it. Establishing a daily routine in which the cat’s needs that involve our presence are well met while ignoring the cat’s demands at night, generally avoids the development of long-term problems.
Number 3, you don’t open the door to the cat cry at night to go out
In the same vein, the cat who is used to going outside will be tempted to wake us up to go have fun outside. This is normal for him/her, so why not do it at night too? The easiest way to fix the problem before it even starts is to install a cat flap on your door.
The cat, therefore, becomes master of its movements and no longer needs to wake up the human in the house. This solution is not possible everywhere or for all cats, so it is important to avoid responding to the cat’s request, to ignore it completely. At the same time, by enriching his inner living environment, he will find other activities to do on his own before wanting to go wandering.
Why does my cat cry louder when I ignore it?
When ignoring the cat who is behaving inappropriately, it is important to do it perfectly.
This means not to talk, not to look, not to sigh, just a big NO to any reaction.
Absolutely nothing should be done that could be interpreted as paying attention because it could inadvertently encourage the cat to continue its nocturnal behavior. In addition, when you really ignore the cat (and especially if you have already answered the cat before), the pet will always start by amplifying his behavior before stopping it. This is called the extinction puff.
The cat that once meowed will meow louder or differently or it will try another behavior to get our attention.
The mistake pet owners often encounter is to react to this new amplified behavior. The cat will then register that it now has to howl louder for attention and that is what it will do in the future.
It is therefore more than important to continue to ignore the cat during the puff of extinction stage in order to stop the nocturnal meowing and not to cause an even worse behavior.
Is your cat old? Does it need re-assuring?
If the nocturnal meows begin abruptly when the cat has never done this before, special attention should be paid to the cat. A sudden change in behavior is never to be taken lightly. Without responding to the meows, it is still possible to get up to go, for example, to the bathroom, and only take a discreet look at the cat to make sure everything is okay. If something abnormal happens then we can react, but hopefully, we will not reinforce the behavior by going back to bed afterward while ignoring the cat. If the cat continues its new behavior of meowing at night for no apparent reason, a visit to the vet should be in order, especially if the cat is getting up there with age.
Several diseases can cause night cries and other sudden nighttime behaviors.
During nocturnal meows, it is absolutely and perfectly okay to ignore the cat who meows in order to avoid reinforcing the behavior. If this is a new behavior in an aging cat, it is also better to make sure that all is well on the health side.