How Can We Stop Our Cat Meowing Constantly In The Middle Of The Night?

by Alyssa
(Queensland, Australia)

We have a problem with Casper, who's 10 years old, and she is a chinchilla breed. She meows in the middle of the night and wakes us up every night.

It used to be every now and then, now it's every night. We have tried leaving her inside, putting her outside and putting her downstairs in the garage. Everywhere we still hear her. And when she starts, she is relentless.

We believe what she wants is to come into our room to sleep. On the rare occasions she has, is the only time she doesn't do it. We don't want to make a habit of this though, nor give in to her.

The Vet has become very expensive because he doesn't know what is wrong with her and keeps giving me different medication. She has had anti inflammatories (he thought she may have back pain) and anti depressants (which sometimes worked but made her very dopey) called Clomicalm.

This problem is causing unrest between myself and my fiance. We really need to find a solution. Can you please help us?

Reply from Liz (Editor): You have my sympathy here, this type of cat behavior can be extremely frustrating.

I assume (hope) that the vet has checked her out generally, to make sure there's nothing physically wrong with her that's making her meow like this? I'm guessing he has, as he's tried to give her medication to control it.

It sounds as though the behavior is more psychological in nature, as she stops when you let her in the room. If she was in pain, I'd expect the meowing to continue after you'd let her in, and also to be bad during the day.

Did she used to be allowed in the bedroom at night? I'm just wondering if she was allowed in at some point but now isn't any more. In cases like this, it can take a while to get a cat to change its behavior.

Assuming the behavior is psychological, there are a couple of suggestions I can make which should help.

She may be feeling anxious when she's on her own at night, or even jealous that she's not with you (and "missing out!") It may be worth trying a plug-in Feliway diffuser and / or spray. It has a calming effect on some cats and may help her if she's anxious. I'd suggest either plugging a diffuser in near to where she sleeps and / or spraying her bed with the spray. It does take a couple of weeks for Feliway to build up and work, so it may not show instant results but I think it's worth a try.

The other thing to do is to try to change her sleeping habits so that she's tired at night and therefore more likely to sleep through. If possible, if she's asleep all day, keep waking her up and try to make her stay awake - e.g. by petting her, playing with her, putting her outside if she's allowed, giving her some catnip etc. You should especially try to keep her awake in the evening. You won't need to do this for very long - once her routine is switched she should be fine.

Also, delay feeding her in the evening until later - say about 8 or 9pm. That way she will go to bed on a full stomach and be more likely to sleep for longer.

The final "rule," which I'm sure you're aware of, is not to give in to her. If you let her in sometimes, she'll get mixed messages and will meow all the more when you don't let her in.

It may take a while, but this cat behavior, if it has psychological (as opposed to physical) causes, should get better if you follow the suggestions above. Best of luck and many thanks for your question and for the photo - she is gorgeous.

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