A cat’s meow is one of our feline friends’ most interesting forms of vocalization. Kittens meow at their mother to communicate, but as soon as your kitten becomes dependent and matures, meows are reserved exclusively for humans. It is their way of communicating with us!
My cat is extremely vocal, meowing when she wants food, has used her litter box, and sometimes for seemingly no reason! Yours may barely meow at all. Often though, cats meow at closed doors. But why does my cat meow at the door? What is she trying to tell me?
Most of the time, cats meowing by a door either want your attention or to go in or out of the room, but the door is blocking their way. They’re trying to say, “let me out.” Yet, when you can’t let your cat out, they sometimes won’t stop meowing at the door, and it can be extremely frustrating.
In this article, I will go into more detail about why cats meow at doors – be that your bedroom door, backdoor, or any other closed door in your home – and how you can stop it.
Why Does My Cat Meow at the Door?
There are several reasons why cats may meow at a closed door. The answer depends on which door they’re meowing at – whether it is a door to the outside or a closed door within your home. Looking at what time of day they are meowing and which side of the door you are on also helps to determine what our feline friends are trying to communicate to us.
Below, I have listed ten things that your cat could be trying to say to you.
1. They Want to Be Let Outside
If you are on the same side of a closed door as your cat and they are meowing at it and won’t stop, they are probably trying to tell you that they want to be let outside. Where they want to go depends on where the door is leading.
If they are meowing at your backdoor, it is likely because they want to be in the garden. On the other hand, if they are in a room with you and are meowing to go out, they could be telling you they need to be let out to use their litter tray or take a drink. You should always let your cat have access to essentials like their litter tray and water, so try not to block them off from these.
2. They Want to Be Let Inside
If cats meow because they want to be let outside, they also meow because they want to be let back in. For example, my cat often meows at my bedroom door in the mornings because she wants a hug and likes looking out my window.
Alternatively, if you have an outdoor cat and see them waiting outside your front door or backdoor and vocalizing, they’ve likely had enough of exploring and are ready to come back in for a nap. If you do have an outdoor cat, I suggest getting a cat flap so your kitty can come and go as she wishes.
3. They Want Your Attention
Although independent creatures, cats can get lonely and love being around their owners. This could be why your cat waits outside your bedroom door as you sleep. They just want to see you! If you hear your cat meowing, let them in and have some kitty cuddles.
However, many people shut their cats out of their bedrooms on purpose. Perhaps you have a mild allergy and want to keep your bedroom a cat-free zone. You could simply not want cat hair on your sheets. I personally don’t like sleeping with my door open, and unfortunately, my cat would need access to her water and litter tray throughout the night.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry. I have some tips on how to stop a cat from meowing at your door later on in this article.
4. They Are Missing Someone
Another reason your cat keeps meowing at the front or back door could be that they’re missing someone who isn’t in the house. For example, I used to live with a friend who moved out, and my cat really noticed the change. Similarly, if your children have moved out for college, your kitty could be calling out for them to come back.
It’s even possible that your cat could be calling after you or your partner when you leave the house for work each day. The shortest absence could lead to your cat meowing by the door!
5. They Want to Be Fed
If you and your cat are on opposite sides of a closed door in your home, your cat could be meowing at the door because they want feeding. They’re calling through the door to you, saying, “feed me please, human!“. If your cat is crying to get into your bedroom every morning, they’re likely after their breakfast.
You can also tell if your cat is trying to communicate this because they won’t try to come in when you open the door. Instead, they will run away again, off towards their feeding station. Cats will always try to tell you what they’re communicating, so I often follow my cat and see where she’s headed to figure out what she wants.
6. They Are Curious
Heard of the saying curiosity killed the cat? Cats are extremely inquisitive and love exploring the world around them. And there is nothing that sparks curiosity like a closed door when you don’t know what’s inside. So if your cat is meowing at a door they have never been let through, it could be that they’re curious about what is behind it.
This could be a room in your home that you have shut off from them or an indoor cat meowing at a door leading outside and dying to know more. My cat meows at the door of my guest room as I try to minimize the cat hair in there by never letting her inside.
Your cat could also be curious about a room they spend a lot of time in if they can hear and smell new people inside. They just want to see what’s going on!
7. They Are Bored
Like us, cats get bored easily and need lots of exciting stimuli to keep them happy and entertained. If your cat won’t stop meowing at the door, it could be that they’re bored. They could want you to play with them and won’t stop meowing until they have something fun to do.
For anyone with an indoor cat, boredom is an extremely likely cause of their meowing. Cats are naturally free and independent creatures that love roaming outside and exploring. Indoor cats can be very content staying inside their entire lives, but they need more enrichment than outdoor cats and plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied.
8. They Are Greeting Somebody
Another reason why your cat may be meowing at the door is that they’re trying to greet somebody. If your cat regularly greets you, you should feel flattered. Cats are independent animals, and if they go out of their way to greet you, they clearly love and appreciate you.
Your cat could greet you as you arrive home from work, or if your cat is meowing at your bedroom door when you wake up, they could be trying to say, “Good morning!” Some cats even wake their owners up by meowing outside their rooms every morning. This is a not-so-nice greeting, but they don’t mean to be a nuisance. They’re just excited for the day ahead and missed you through the night. Plus, they probably want their breakfast!
9. They Are Calling for a Mate
Many owners have had their cats spayed or neutered, so this point is redundant. However, if your cat hasn’t and is still reproductively intact, it could be calling at a door leading to the outside because they are looking to find a mate.
Female cats in heat will meow at the door to communicate with males in the surrounding. You will be able to tell if your female cat is in heat as they will also start excessively rubbing their bodies against you and other objects in your home and become much more affectionate.
Males, on the other hand, meow at you as they want to be let outside to gain access to these females. Cats in heat release powerful sex pheromones that male cats will be able to smell from miles away. They are instinctively drawn to this smell and can be pretty persistent in getting outside if there is a female in heat nearby.
10. They Are Suffering from Cognitive Dysfunction
As cats age, their functions start to decline. This includes physical abilities, such as not being able to jump and run around like they used to, but also mental capabilities and cognitive function. Feline cognitive dysfunction is actually extremely common in senior cats and affects over 55% of cats over the age of 11 and 80% of cats over the age of 16.
Feline cognitive dysfunction manifests in many ways, but all the symptoms are caused by a decline in the ability to recall information, learn new skills, and understand their environment. This causes cats to become disorientated and can lead to bad grooming habits or toilet accidents. If your cat shows these symptoms, it’s important you take them to the vet.
Senior cats with cognitive dysfunction will keep meowing at closed doors and become more vocal in general, especially during the night. They often need more reassurance and attention because they’re stressed and so could be calling for help. They could also have forgotten what is behind the door or not understand that it’s night-time and you’ve gone to bed.
How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Meowing at the Door?
Now that you’ve figured out why your cat is meowing at the door, how do you get them to stop it?
Firstly, you need to rule out any health issues by taking a trip to your vet. You then also need to make sure that the closed door isn’t separating them from their essentials – their food, water, and litter box. If your cat is meowing at the door once you’ve done all of this, here are a few of my top tips for getting them to stay quiet.
1. Don’t Scold Your Cat
Many owners will try to stop their cat from meowing at the door by punishing their behavior. For example, you could clap your hands to startle them and make them stop or shout at them not to do this.
However, scolding your cat for meowing is not a good idea. Yes, it may be effective in preventing meowing short-term, but your cat is meowing at you for a reason. By scaring them away, you’re not dealing with the issue, and the underlying problem persists. Plus, your cat can start to fear you, and your close bond could be broken.
2. Give Your Cat Attention Before Bed
Some cats cry like a baby at night! If your cat meows constantly at your bedroom door, I suggest playing with your cat before bed. Your feline is sure to appreciate the time they have with you, and the more you can get them to run, jump, and pounce, the more exhausted they will get, increasing the chance that they’ll sleep through the night.
After playtime is over, you should also give them a pet and show them some affection. Some cats don’t like spending the night by themselves and giving them a lot of cuddles before you head to your bedroom for the night is a good compromise.
3. Feed Your Cat Later in the Day
Feeding your cat later in the day can also help prevent them from meowing at night. Often, cats will call at your door in the morning because they want you to feed them. By pushing their feeding time back an hour or so, they will stay fuller for longer and are happy to wait until you’re up and awake before having their breakfast.
Besides, whereas it is not good for us to eat immediately before going to sleep, cats like to sleep as they digest their food. So if you feed your kitty right before bedtime, they will be more likely to go to sleep at the same time you do.
Alternatively, you could leave dry food down for your kitty to graze on whenever they like. This can be effective but needs to be closely monitored too. You don’t want your feline to become overweight!
4. Get an Automatic Cat Feeder
Another solution for cats meowing because they’re hungry is to get an automatic cat feeder, which you can purchase from your local pet store. This way, breakfast is served, but not by you! I’ve been using one of these for years now, and they really make a difference.
To use, put your cat’s breakfast inside an automatic cat feeder before you go to bed and set a timer for the hatch to open in the morning. You should set it to open just before your cat usually starts crying to get in your bedroom. For example, if your cat constantly wakes you up at 5 am for breakfast, set the automatic feeder 10 minutes earlier and see if it helps.
If you don’t want to purchase an automatic feeder, you could also leave treat balls with your cat overnight filled with kibble. When your cat gets hungry, it can roll the ball around and get food at the same time. Food and play together? Sounds like a winning combo to me!
5. Give Them a Comfortable Sleeping Area
If you are shutting your cat out of your room for the night, be sure to provide them with a comfortable sleeping area. Cats can become lonely and bored at night-time, especially as dusk and dawn are when cats are most active and alert, so the space they’re in needs to be both cozy and entertaining.
Providing a comfortable cat bed can go a long way. It gives them a safe space to curl up in and is a good replacement for your lap. Cats love sitting on our laps as they are drawn to warmth, and we give off heat, so you could try putting a hot water bottle in their bed to mimic this. My cat also loves it when I play faint music or white noise in the background, as it helps her feel less alone.
Entertainment-wise, leave a couple of your cat’s toys out so that they can have a play if they want to. However, be sure not to leave toys out that make noise when played with, as these will end up being just as annoying as your cat’s meows!
6. Provide Plenty of Entertainment
Keeping a cat from getting bored is crucial when trying to stop them from meowing, especially if you have an indoor-only cat or if your cat spends a lot of time at home alone.
Investing in some good-quality cat toys is the perfect way to add some enrichment. You can get toy fish and toy mice, balls and feather wands, and even automated cat toys that work when you’re not home. The more varied, the better!
Cats also love to climb and scratch. I’ve found that a cat tree with multiple platforms and plenty of scratching posts can provide a kitty with hours of entertainment! If your cat is happy where they are, they are less likely to meow at the door.
7. Install a Cat Flap
If your cat is constantly meowing to go in and out, I recommend installing a cat flap so that you don’t have to be there to open and close the door at your cat’s beck and call. Plus, this means your cat always has access to food, water, and shelter. The outdoors can also provide lots of positive stimulation, so your cat may meow less at night too.
If you have a cat who is used to going outside but that you’re trying to train to become an indoor cat, having them constantly meowing to go outside is, unfortunately, just part of the transition. Eventually, your cat will get used to living inside. To help them adjust more easily, be sure to provide plenty of stimulation for them inside the home.
8. Put Deterrents Outside the Door
You can also put deterrents outside doors that you don’t want your cat to scratch or meow at, such as your bedroom door. Double-sided sticky tape can work as your cat won’t like the sticky feeling on their paws, or a sheet of tin foil can deter cats from getting too close to your room.
However, I have found that while this is great for preventing cats from scratching at your door, it is not as successful in preventing meowing. This is because your cat doesn’t need to be stood right up against your door for your to be able to hear them. It can sometimes reduce meowing, though, as it will stop your feline from wanting to come into your room.
Another more effective solution is to get a motion-activated air can. These are cans filled with air that spray in short bursts when they detect movement in the vicinity. The air won’t do your cat any harm but will make your cat flee from the door and stop meowing.
9. Get Your Cat Spayed or Neutered
If you have a cat that is reproductively active and it is meowing to go out, you can stop it by getting them spayed or neutered. This is the most effective way to stop cats from meowing if they’re searching for a mate.
Females come into heat every 2-4 weeks through the breeding season, and if there is a female searching for a mate nearby, there is no way to reliably prevent a male cat from sensing this. Besides, it can also help protect female cats that roam outdoors from accidentally falling pregnant.
If you want to get this surgical procedure done, talk to your vet, and they will be able to book it for you. It will set you back around $100, but it is a one-time procedure, and I would say it is worthwhile for any cat that you aren’t planning on breeding.
10. Ignore Their Meowing
You must listen to your cat and understand their wants and needs. This way, you can ensure they are living a life that they love.
However, if your cat won’t stop meowing at your door and you are certain you’re providing them with everything they need, it’s time to ignore them. This is especially true for night-time meowing, which can disrupt your sleep and your mood.
Of course, ignoring your cat’s meows is easier said than done. But after a few weeks of ignoring your cat’s night-time calls, they will likely stop. They’ll learn that meowing is not going to win them your attention and will decide it’s not worth wasting their breath. To help you get through the transition stage, you can always start wearing earplugs to make it easier for you to ignore your cat’s calls.
So, why is your cat meowing at the door? Because they are trying to communicate with you, of course! But exactly what they are trying to communicate could be one of several things.
They may wish to go outside because they’re bored or curious, or they could want to come into the room you’re in for some attention. Alternatively, they could be telling you they want their breakfast, greeting you, or could be suffering from cognitive impairment.
After ruling out medical issues, I suggest encouraging your cat to stop meowing by giving them the most fun possible! More importantly, don’t scold your cat when they meow. Ignore them if they are meowing for no reason, and they will learn to stop eventually.
Remember, some cats are more vocal than others. So, if you have a particularly chatty cat, you may have to just learn to love them for it!