Between cats and dogs, our feline friends have the reputation of being the quiet ones. However, that is not always the case and cats can be, or become, pretty vocal; so should you worry if your cat is or has become the loudest one in the room? 

In the next paragraphs, we will go through a few physiological (normal) and pathological (medical) reasons for increased vocalisation in cats.

It’s just your cat’s unique personality!

Like any other animal, human or not, cats have personalities. Some cats just vocalise more than others. It can be their preferred way of communication and it can be perfectly normal.

Furthermore, cats are extremely intelligent creatures and they learn that they can get what they want by meowing or yowling. And that the reward (usually food or attention) comes quicker and more effectively the louder the noise. So yes, your cat can be training you without you realising!

Yowling can also become the new norm if the cat’s social environment changes. For example if there is another animal in the house, in the neighbourhood or if there is a new baby.

Certain cat breeds are recognised for being particularly talkative. Examples include Siamese, Bengal, Sphynx, Burmese, Japanese Bobtail and Burmese.

Age can also influence how much cats vocalise, with younger and older cats vocalising more than adult cats, in general. This is related to increased dependence from their owners during these life stages. 

Occasional or seasonal changes in vocalisation patterns

If your cat is usually quiet but becomes vocal on random occasions, pay attention and you may notice a pattern. 

Female cats, if not spayed, will be in season every two to three weeks from around February to October. One of the biggest changes in behaviour will be loud, frequent vocalisation. You may also notice they become unsettled, more affectionate and lift their tails when walking. Some cats also urinate more frequently and outside the litter tray. Although male cats do not have hormonal cycles like females do, they may still display seasonal, hormonal-influenced behaviour if there is a female cat in the neighbourhood or in the house. Neutering your cat will reduce or even eliminate these unwanted behaviours and also prevent unwanted pregnancies and many hormone-induced health conditions.

Other examples of times when cats can become more vocal include feeding time, when you arrive home after they have been left alone, or when they are used to going outside if they don’t have a cat flap. Creating a stable routine for your cat helps them predict their life. It may also reduce anxiety and the frequency of yowling.

When is yowling abnormal?

Although yowling can be absolutely normal and may not represent a cause for concern, some cats may yowl as a sign of a medical problem. In those cases, excess vocalisation should, of course, be addressed. 

Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone excessively. Thyroid hormone is responsible for the body’s metabolism. When increased, the metabolism becomes excessively quick and cats become unsettled, they lose weight despite an increased appetite and it can, ultimately, lead to heart problems too. Hyperthyroidism is very common in older cats, and is relatively straightforward to rule out, with just a single blood test. If your cat is displaying any of these symptoms it is worth having a chat with your vet; just to find out if they think it is appropriate to investigate this condition.

Any neurological conditions (affecting the brain and the nervous system) can lead to behavioural changes, including increased vocalisation. Older cats, particularly, can suffer from a condition similar to dementia in humans. This is called cognitive dysfunction, which could explain why has your cat suddenly become more vocal.

Other than neurological conditions or hormonal imbalances, any causes of pain or discomfort can prompt your cat to vocalise more. Examples of these are urinary problems, joint pain, high blood pressure, ocular pain, deafness or blindness or abdominal pain.

While cats that yowl as part of their personality and normal behaviour tend to do it continuously or follow a pattern, medical conditions usually lead to an unexpected change in the cat’s usual behaviour and yowling can become more or less frequent, loud or change in pitch. If this is the case, you should contact your vet for a health check.

You might also be interested in: