Saturday, January 2, 2010

why does my cat cry at night -- another look at a common problem from the cat perspective

First of all, let me assure you that this is a common problem that usually does not involve serious health problems for most cats. Nonetheless, it can be extremely annoying and over a long period of time actually represent a bigger health threat to cat caretakers to the cats themselves.

Before taking the cat to the vet for persistent or exceptional nighttime crying episodes, let's run down the basic questions you need to ask yourself as a responsible cat care giver.

1) is your cat friend a man? If so, is he neutered?
Male cats are often quite vocal indeed when they are in season. If your cat has not been neutered, then the first thing to do is to make an appointment with your cat's vet to discuss arranging for your cat to be neutered. (Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, the number of cats who suffer needlessly every year due to the lack of spaying and neutering in truly tragic. Whatever your cat's problem is or isn't, there is no excuse for not having your friend spayed or neutered! And while we are on the subject, it is firmly the opinion of Practical Cats that there is no such thing as a "reputable breeder" or a "responsible breeder" of cats. The number of beautiful, gentle and adorable cats currently living in shelters who will be put to sleep in the next 24 hours for the lack of a decent home is another ongoing tragedy largely aggravated by so called "reputable breeders."

Back to the question of "why does my cat cry at night": Cats are much more vocal than dogs, and much of their vocal sounds are those that bring individuals closer together, as they are a social species.

These meows are usually greeting calls spoken in friendly interactions with cats or other species such as dogs and people. In addition, some overattached cats will follow their owners, perhaps crying regularly to attract their attention.

I would suggest that first of all you take your cat for a check up to the vet's as there are other things that can cause the symptoms your describe, such as some pain. In addition, it might be worthwhile chatting with the vet about whether seeing a pet behaviourist would help your cat.

You can also think about whether your cat gets enough attention, or if there is not enough activity or mental stimulation.

If this is relevant, think about organising regular schedules play times with your cat, where you initiate play, petting, grooming or food treats, such as small pieces of cheese, cooked chicken or shrimp, when your cat is quiet or behaving in the way that pleases you. Make sure your vet OK's these food additions and reward desirable behaviours and ignore those that are undesirable.

Remember that this ignoring behaviour means that you don't have eye, touch or voice contact with your cat. The condition may also get worse before it gets better, and you need to be consistent. In these situations, the main reason for failure is often the owner!

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