A cat’s meow is one of the most interesting forms of vocalization in our feline friends. Kittens will meow at their mother to communicate, but as soon as your kitten becomes dependant and matures, meows are reserved exclusively for humans. It is their way of communicating with us.
Now, all cats are totally different. My cat is extremely vocal, meowing when she wants food, announcing when she’s used her litter box, and sometimes communicating with me for seemingly no reason whatsoever! Yours, on the other hand, may barely meow at all. Often though, cats will 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 meow at the door because they want to go in or out of the room and the door is blocking their way. They’re trying to say “let me out”. Yet, when you can’t let your cat out for whatever reason, sometimes they won’t stop meowing at the door and it can be extremely frustrating.
In this article, I will explain more 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 could be meowing at closed doors. It 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 from them also helps to determine what our feline friends are trying to communicate to us.
Here are 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. Exactly where they want to go depends on where the door is leading to.
If they are meowing at your backdoor, it is likely because they want to be in the garden or out exploring. 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 go and use their litter tray or that they want a drink of water. You should always let your cat have access to essentials like their litter tray and water, so try to not block them off from these.
2. They Want to Be Let Inside
Of course, if cats meow because they want to be let outside, they will also meow because they want to be let back in. 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 catflap so your kitty can come and go and she wishes.
3. They Want to Be with You
If your cat is shut out of the room you’re in and they’re meowing at you from the outside, they probably want to be with you. 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 as a cat-free zone. You could simply not want cat hair on your sheets. Or perhaps you don’t like sleeping with your door open and would need to if your cat slept with you so that they could access their 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 later on in this article.
4. They Are Missing Someone
Another reason why your cat keeps meowing at the front door or backdoor could be that they’re missing someone who isn’t in the house anymore. For example, if you lived with a friend who moved out, your cat might miss their presence. Similarly, if your children have moved to go to college they could be calling out for them to come back. Your cat could even be calling after you or your partner when you leave the house for work each day.
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 also be meowing at the door because it wants feeding. They’re calling through the door to you saying “feed me please human!“. If your cat is meowing and waiting outside your bedroom door every morning, they’re likely after their breakfast.
You can also tell if your cat is trying to communicate this because when you open the door they won’t try to come in. Instead, they will run away again, off towards their feeding station. Cats will always try to tell you what they’re communicating, so follow them and see where they are headed and it will probably give you the answer.
6. They Are Curious
Heard of the saying curiosity killed the cat? Well, there is actually some truth in this phrase. Cats are extremely inquisitive and love exploring the world around them. And there is nothing that sparks curiosity like a closed door that you don’t know what’s behind. If your cat is meowing at a door they have never been let out of before, it could be that they’re curious as to 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. They could even be curious about a room they spend a lot of time in if they can hear and smell new people inside. They want to see what’s going on.
7. They Are Bored
Cats also 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 or show them some extra attention, and won’t stop meowing until they have something fun to do.
For anyone with an indoor cat meowing at the door, boredom is an extremely likely cause. Cats are naturally free and independent creatures that love roaming around outside and exploring. However, indoor cats can be very content staying inside for 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 possibility as to why your cat is meowing at the door is that they’re trying to greet somebody. If your cat greets you, you should feel flattered. Cats are independent animals and if they go out of their way to greet you then 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 in the morning, they could be trying to say “Good morning!”. Some cats will wake their owners up by meowing outside their room at the start of each day, which is a not-so-nice greeting. Still, they don’t mean to be a nuisance. They could be saying “Wakey wakey sleepy head, time to get up!”. They’re 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, and so this point is redundant. However, for any cat that hasn’t and is still reproductively intact, your cat could be calling at a door leading to the outside as they are looking to mate.
Female cats in heat will meow at the door to communicate with males in the surrounding area that they are ready to reproduce and want to find an active mate. 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, will be meowing to you as they want to be let outside so that they can gain access to these females. Cats in heat will 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 years old, and 80% of cats over the age of 16.
Feline cognitive dysfunction can manifest in many ways, but all the symptoms are caused by a decline in the ability to recall information, learn new skills, and understand the world around them. This can cause cats to become extremely disorientated and confused. Cats can forget where things are and what their normal routine looks like, and they often suffer from anxiety as a result.
Senior cats with cognitive dysfunction often 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.
If cognitive dysfunction is the reason your cat won’t stop meowing at night, it will also be accompanied by other symptoms. Your cat could seem very disorientated, stop grooming as much, and eat less. They could also forget how to use their litter box or be unable to recognize people. If your cat shows any of these signs and symptoms, take them to the vet.
How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Meowing at the Door?
Now you have figured out why your cat meows at the door, how do we 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 other things you can try to get them to be quiet.
1. Don’t Scold Your Cat
Many owners will try to train their cats not to meow by punishing this behavior. You could clap your hands to startle them and make them stop, or shout at them to not do this.
However, scolding your cat for meowing is not a good idea. Yes, it may be effective in preventing meowing short-term, but cats are meowing at your door 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 your and the close bond between you could be broken.
2. Give Your Cat Attention Before Bed
Some cats cry like a baby at night, and if your cat meows constantly at your bedroom door, one way to help is by giving them a big fuss before bed. Start by playing with your cat using all their favorite toys. They’ll 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 on 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. If you feed your kitty right before bedtime, they will be more likely to go to sleep at the same time you do.
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!
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 to meow at your bedroom door. For example, if your cat constantly wakes you up at 5am 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!
5. Give Them a Comfortable Area
If you are shutting your cat out of your room for the night, be sure to provide them with a comfortable area. Cats can become both 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. Leaving some faint music or white noise playing in the background can also help them to not feel as 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 to not 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 home alone.
Investing in some good-quality cat toys is the perfect way to add some enrichment to your cat’s life. When it comes to toys, variety is best. You should opt for a selection of toys in a range of different textures and colors. 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 and the more varied, the better!
Cats also love to climb and scratch. A cat tree with multiple platforms for them to climb and posts for them to scratch and can provide 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 meowing to go inside and outside constantly, you should seriously consider 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 are trying to train to become an indoor cat, having them meowing constantly at closed doors waiting 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.
While this is great for preventing cats from scratching at your door, it is not as successful in preventing meowing. Your cat doesn’t need to be stood right up against your door for your to be able to hear them. However, it can help to stop them from wanting to come into your room and therefore reduce meowing.
Another more effective solution that should only be used as a last resort is to get a motion-activated air can. These are cans filled with air that spray 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 constantly meowing to go out, you can stop it by getting them spayed or neutered. When a female cat is spayed, it will undergo an operation that removes its ovaries and uterus. On the other hand, males are neutered through an operation that removes their testicles.
This is the most effective way to stop cats from meowing if they’re searching for a mate. Females will 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 around 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 in for you. It will set you back around $100, but it is a one-time procedure and worthwhile for any cat to have if 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 you are certain you’re providing your cat with everything they need and they are still meowing non-stop, 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. However, after a few weeks of ignoring your cat’s night-time calls, they will likely stop. They have learned that meowing is not going to win them your attention and they 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.
Your cat keeps meowing at the door because they are trying to communicate with you. 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 or greeting you, or could be suffering from cognitive impairment.
After ruling out medical issues, you can encourage your cat to stop meowing by giving them the most fun possible. Provide lots of love and affection, play with them regularly, and try different feeding schedules so you aren’t woken up early. More importantly, don’t scold your cat when they meow. If they are meowing for no reason, ignore them and they will learn to stop eventually.
Remember, some cats are more vocal than others. If you have a particularly chatty cat, learn to love them for it!