Disruptive Crying and Meowing in Cats

 

Excessive vocalization refers to uncontrollable, excessive meowing or crying, often occurring at inappropriate times of the night or day. Such vocalization can be due to pain, illness, cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), or may be related to a decline in hearing in senior pets.

 

CDS is often associated with night waking, during which excessive vocalization occurs. Excessive meowing may also be related to behavioral conditions, which may be controlled by behavior modification training.

 

Cat breeds that are naturally high energy may be prone to excess meowing. Oriental cat breeds, like the Siamese, may be more prone to excessive vocalization. Intact cats, both male and female, are also very vocal during estrus and mating.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

  • Night vocalizations in senior age cats
  • Vocalization during breeding and estrus in cats
  • Excessive mewing in high energy cats
  • Vocalization caused by pain or illness
  • Vocalization disruptive to owners or others

 

Causes

 

  • Medical: disease, pain, CDS
  • Anxiety or conflict
  • Territorial
  • Social or attention-seeking behavior that is reinforced by verbal commands or return of owner to room
  • Distress vocalization (e.g. yowling or whining)– often due to separation from mother, family, social group or owner; may be a grieving behavior
  • Growling may be associated with antagonistic displays (not just confined to dogs, also occurs with cats)
  • Mating, sexual behavior
  • Breed – genetic characteristics

 

Diagnosis

 

If the increased vocalization is out of the ordinary for your cat, you will want to have health problems ruled out before considering behavior modification. Your veterinarian can perform a full medical work-up, including a chemical blood profile, complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis and electrolyte panel, along with a complete physical exam. Possible incidents that might have led to this condition will also be considered, and a thorough history of your cat’s behavioral health leading up to the symptoms will be taken into account.

 

It is critical to rule out a non-behavioral, physical cause of the vocalization first. Imaging can be helpful for ruling out medical/neurological disorders, and BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) testing can be done if auditory decline is suspected.

 

 

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urinalysis

An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness

estrus

The time period in which a female is receptive to male attention

auditory

Anything pertaining to what can be heard; hearing.