Recently, I have had many complaints from people about cats who keep them up all night. The people are desperate for help due to lack of sleep. Here is a list of the common causes of meowing or yowling that I see broken down into two categories. I will address treatments in my next post.
-Hyperthyroidism or excess thyroid hormone may cause vocalizing and hyperactivity. This is more common in cats over 7 years of age.
-Testicular tumors that secrete testosterone.
-Intact (not spayed or neutered) animals looking for a partner. This is the season when love is in the air.
-Hormonal stimulation in animals that were improperly sterilized.
-Drug side effects.
-Pain especially from osteoarthritis. I had one patient that had trouble getting into the litter box. He would stand beside it and meow until someone put him inside. Cutting down one side gave him pain-free access.
-Pruritus causes by allergies or external parasites. Fleas, bed bugs and mites tend to be more active at night.
-Dementia and brain tumors.
-Hypertension which is often found with renal insufficiency in older cats.
-Anxiety which often occurs as cats age and their senses diminish.
-A cat that is protecting their resources or territory will make a lot of noise. This often occurs when the resident cat sees or smells a cat outside their home.
-Boredom due to lack of behavioral enrichment. Cats need places to rest, eat/drink, use the litter box and play. Sometimes, we forget the need for play.
-Lack of exercise is a huge problem for indoor cats. Besides causing unwanted behaviors, it also leads to obesity. As my professor taught me in veterinary school, “A tired animal doesn’t get into trouble.”
-Hyperactivity related to high carbohydrate diets. In some ways cats are just like kids, feed them a high carbohydrate (sugar) snack and watch out.