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Soothing the Nocturnal Noise: Comforting Old Cats Who Meow at Night

Updated: Mar 29

If your senior cat has turned into a night owl, meowing into the wee hours, you're not alone. This nocturnal chorus, while endearing to some, can be a sign of underlying issues or needs that your aging companion is trying to communicate. Understanding why older cats meow at night and how to comfort them can help turn those nighttime ballads into peaceful silence.

A grey cat meowing
Nighttime meowing can be exhausting for cats and their people alike.

Why Do Older Cats Meow at Night?

Several reasons can explain why your senior cat is more vocal at night:

  • Separation Anxiety - As cats age, they may become more prone to developing anxiety for several reasons, including declining health, sensory decline (such as hearing or vision loss), and changes in their sleep patterns. These factors can make them more dependent on their human companions for comfort and security, leading to distress when alone at night.

  • Physical Discomfort: Conditions like arthritis or other age-related issues can cause pain or discomfort, which your cat may express through meowing. This is especially true if they are no longer able to do things like use the litter tray easily or jump back into bed.

  • Hunger, Thirst and/or Health Issues: Metabolic changes or medications may alter your cat’s appetite, thirst or behaviour, leading them to vocalise their needs during the night. A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery emphasised the correlation between increased vocalisation and medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism and hypertension, particularly in older cats.

  • Cognitive Decline: Much like humans, cats can experience changes in cognitive function as they age. This can lead to confusion and disorientation, often more noticeable at night, leading to increased vocalisation.

A sortie cat having blood pressure measured
High blood pressure can cause behavioural changes.

Comforting a Senior Cat at Night:

Understanding the root of your cat's nocturnal symphony is crucial in providing the right comfort.

Here are some strategies to help soothe your senior cat:

1. Create a Comforting Environment: Ensure your cat has a cozy, accessible sleeping area. A nightlight can help cats with poor vision, and keeping the sleeping area warm can soothe arthritic joints.

2. Maintain a Routine: Consistency in feeding, playtime, and cuddle sessions can provide a sense of security and reduce anxiety for your cat.

3. Address Dietary Needs: Adjustments to your cat’s diet can cater to their changing nutritional needs and may prevent late-night hunger pangs.

4. Engage in Daytime Activities: Encouraging play and interaction during the day can help tire your cat out and promote better sleep at night.

5. Consult a Veterinarian: It is important to have regular health checks to make sure that diseases that are common in old age are addressed promptly. There are also useful medications that can be given to promote a good night's sleep.

A tabby cat resting on the owner's back as they sleep
Cats often need more emotional comfort as they age.

The Importance of Patience and Understanding:

As cats age, they require more tender loving care. Nighttime vocalisation is just one way our senior companions communicate their needs or discomforts. With patience, observation, and a little veterinary detective work, together we can uncover the cause of your cat's nightly serenades and provide the comfort and care they need.

Here's to quiet nights and contented, purring companions!


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