A crying cat can be a major cause of concern for new cat owners, and it’s one of the most common reasons cats are forfeited to shelters. Knowing why your cat is crying is an important step in understanding their unique personality so you can provide them with the care they need. 

Much like humans, cats cry for many different reasons, some good and some bad. That’s why it’s important to be able to identify exactly what your cat is looking for when they cry. Most cat owners are accustomed to the standard “meows” and “chirps” cats make when they are looking for attention. However when these vocalizations become louder and longer in the form of a “yowl,” it may indicate your cat is looking for something else.

While there are many normal reasons for crying, it’s important to rule out any medical issues. In general, when cats are sick or in pain, they tend to withdraw to avoid calling attention to themselves, so a yowling or crying cat does not necessarily indicate pain or illness. However, if your cat's behavior changes dramatically for no apparent reason, it's best to have an animal care professional examine them. 

If medical issues have been ruled out, then consider the following causes:

Your cat is hungry.

A hungry cat may cry until they get the food they want. If you stick to a regular feeding schedule, resist the urge to feed your cat to quiet them as this reinforces the behavior. Giving in teaches your cat that if they keep crying, they’ll get a treat. Not to worry, your cat will eventually learn that crying won’t make dinner come sooner.

Your cat is bored.

Every cat has a unique personality. While some may be independent solitude seekers, others need regular playtime. Your cat may cry to initiate playtime, but as with feeding, it’s important to initially resist their demands to avoid reinforcing bad behavior. Wait until your cat has settled down before initiating playtime.

Your cat needs attention.

Every cat needs a certain amount of attention during the day. This is especially true if you leave them home alone while you’re at work. A crying cat may just want some facetime, but as stated before, do it on your terms to avoid encouraging bad behavior. An hour of one-on-one play and/or petting can go a long way.

Your cat wants in.

If you keep your cat in another room while you sleep, they may cry at your door, begging to be let in. Shushing or letting them in once again reinforces bad behavior and tells them they can get what they want if they keep crying. While you may have a few restless nights, they will eventually get the hint that crying won’t give them what they want.

Taking all of these causes for crying into consideration will help you learn the unique quirks that make up your cat’s personality, and addressing your cat’s needs will only help your bond grow stronger.