How to Get Your Cat to Stop Meowing at Your Door at Night

Attention-seeking meowing

The attention-seeking meowing is not related to any medical condition or a serious behavior problem. Cats quickly learn that by meowing at night or early in the morning they get what they want. Why? Because cat owners are tired at night, they need to sleep and are willing to give into the cat’s demands. When this behavior has been reinforced in a cat it’s really hard to modify it, but it’s possible.

Nocturnal attention-seeking meowing must be ignored in order for cats to learn that meowing at night won’t provide a response from you. It may take weeks before your cat gives up. Usually, cats tend to meow more frequently and longer right before quitting. In conjunction, you need to fix the causes of this behavior in your cat. The following causes of attention-seeking meowing at night could be keeping you up:

1. Your cat wants to play

Cats have the tendency of being crepuscular and nocturnal. This is in their instincts due to the ancestral need of hunting at dusk and dawn. The younger the cat, the more active it is at night. As they grow into an adult, they adjust their body-clock to the one of the household members and sleep during nighttime. When the cat meows at night for you to play with him just ignore it, it will eventually give up at some point. If you get up to check on your cat you will be reinforcing this behavior and it will be harder to eliminate.

What to do?

The importance of playing with your cat is often ignored and it shouldn’t be. Keep your cat busy and play with him as much as possible in the daytime, especially if you have a kitten. Depending on how playful your cat is, the playtime should be between 15-30 minutes straight. This is hard to accomplish when being out most of the day. Fortunately, there are some tricks you can do. Get an automatic cat toy such as they Smartykat Hot Pursuit that will keep your cat engaged playing by himself for a long time.

Get an interactive toy treat dispenser that will keep your cat mentally stimulated working for its treats. If you need to leave your cat alone most of the day you need to create a proper environment for your cat to be active. Set up cat tunnels, multi-level cat climbers on walls, cat grass, window perch, etc. Create a rich environment for your cat to move, walk and play when being alone.

Cat multilevel shelves (click to find in Amazon)
Cat multilevel shelves (click to find in Amazon)

You can also set up a bird feeder in front of a window to keep your cat’s instinct alive and its mind stimulated. Also, take time to play with your cat when you get home, engage with your kitty in games making your cat run, hunt, swat, etc. You need to use your imagination to get your cat to play and spend as much energy as possible.

You don’t have to start playing as soon as you get home only because your cat is meowing, try to establish a routine that matches yours. If you have more time at 10 pm, play with your cat at that time. Playing with your cat before bedtime helps him sleep much better at night. NEVER play with your cat in your bedroom and neither on your bed. This will make your cat think it’s OK to play while you are sleeping. Define a room and a time to play with your cat and try to stick to this plan. Once you finish playing keep toys away from your cats sight, this way your kitty will know it’s time to sleep and nothing else, just like a little kid.

To help your kitty to get sleepy, play a YouTube video with relaxing music for cats. This really help cats to fall asleep. If you think you can’t keep up with your cat, consider getting a playmate for your kitty. Getting a second cat will provide your cat companion and a “partner in crime”. The younger the cat, the more effective is introducing a new cat at home.

2. Your cat wants food

If you have a kitten the food needs to be available at all times because your kitty is growing and it needs food much more than adult cats. Make sure to leave your kitten enough food at night. When growing up, is not unusual that adult cats meow for food at night too. The cat’s crepuscular and nocturnal tendency makes them want to eat at these hours. When cats play, hunt or run they need to recover the energy by eating food. By slowly modifying the cat behavior to make it sleep at night, the need of food will also disappear.

What to do?

If your cat meows for food at night don’t get up to feed it. By doing this, your cat will learn this behavior and will associate you being up with the food. This is not good. You need to define a strict feeding schedule for your cat and disassociate yourself with the cat’s food. Get a automatic cat feeder that will feed your kitty the right amount of food at the right time.

Cat eating with an automatic feeder

If your cat keeps meowing after eating with the automatic feeder most likely your cat wants its food earlier. Some cats get more demanding as the food gets provided on time. So they will meow earlier every time. Don’t give in. It may take weeks for your cat to get the idea that you won’t be up with its meowing and give up. Just ignore this meowing and make your cat get used to its feeding schedule. Use earplugs to better tolerate the meowing or use headphones with therapy music that will relax you as well (hint: channel Musictherapy on YouTube).

3. Your cat wants to go outside

If your indoor cat is recently experiencing the outdoors, even for a short period of time, most likely it wants to get out at night. The same for indoor/outdoor cats that want to be outside at night.

What to do?

As letting the cat out at night is not safe and it’s not recommended, the golden rule is keeping the cat as active as possible during daytime. This will reduce the cat energy so it won’t have as much desire to be out when getting dark. If your backyard is well protected and your cat is not the wild type, a good choice is installing an automatic cat door for your kitty.

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Meowing Because of Anxiety, Stress, Discomfort and Pain

Any health condition or situation that leads to anxiety, stress, discomfort or pain can make pet restless and more vocal than normal. Talk to your veterinarian if your cat develops behavioral changes or physical symptoms of illness that appear during the day or night.

The most common causes of nocturnal cat woes

Unfortunately us humans don’t always understand meowing and simply don’t know exactly what our cat wants to communicate to us. Sometimes it requires a lot of empathy, patience and a good amount of detective work to find out the reasons behind the meowing, since every cat is different. Despite individual tendencies, habits, experiences and needs, one of the following causes are often behind meowing at night:

  • Boredom
  • Hunger
  • Loneliness
  • Stress and uncertainty
  • Habit
  • Illness or pain
  • Hormonal fluctuations

Meowing for Food at Night

Did you forget to feed your cat? Cats often cry for food or treats and a hungry cat at night is not a quiet cat. You won’t get much sleep if your cat is hungry, so make sure you feed it before going to bed. Do not get up in response to its cries at night, as this will only teach your cat that you will feed it when it meows at you. If you have a difficult work schedule or are concerned about forgetting to feed your cat, consider an automatic cat feeder that controls the meal time and amount of food your cat will get. This will guarantee a regular feeding schedule and your cat is less likely to associate you with getting fed. Also make sure that your cat always has access to clean water to eliminate thirst as a reason for nighttime activity and noise.

Tips To Prevent Indoor Cats From Escaping

You’re going to have to think faster than your feline in preventing him or her from doing the door dash. Here are a few tips you can use to keep your cat safe inside:

● Leave the house from another door than the one your cat is faithfully guarding. 

● Distract her with a treat.

● Shut her in a separate room to minimize her chance of escape. 

● Attach a note to your front door warning guests or workers not to let the cat out.

● If possible, try leash-training your cat or building a screened-in porch for safe outdoor encounters.

● Get your cat a collar with updated tags or even microchipped in the event they do escape.

Getting your cat fixed as a solution

The most effective remedy for this sexually motivated behaviour is definitely castration or sterilisation. Castrated males are usually calmer and lose interest in cats ready for mating. The danger of female cats being permanently heat is also warded off through sterilisation.

If you wish to castrate or sterilise your cat, you should discuss the procedure thoroughly with a vet. They will give you in-depth advice on the right timing, benefits and possible side effects.

Final Thoughts

You might notice that your cat takes offense at the closure of any of the doors in your house. Cats shun the concept of restricted access; they want the freedom to explore where they want when they want it. Doors with windows pose an even greater attraction for them as they like to keep an eye on what’s taking place in the outdoors.

The front door is the ultimate portal to untold exploration for cats, so let them enjoy it! 

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