A new kitten meows at night because it is:
- Wants to use the litterbox
- Separated from its mother too early
- Wants comfort or attention
- Wants to play
Give your kitten plenty of love, attention, and stimulation to help them settle on the first night in your home.
A vet can know if the crying is due to sickness.
The first day you bring your kitten home can be a daunting experience for them. Therefore, they may act like they are in distress, crying all the time.
This article explains why your new kitten is meowing at night, and what you can do to soothe them.
A New Kitten Misses its Mother and Siblings
It’s almost predictable that your kitten will cry for the first few weeks after you bring them home. They have just left their mother and littermates, and thus feel lonely.
The new environment can seem a bit scary, and the unfamiliar scents can be just too much for your kitten.
There are also other reasons why your kitten could be crying at night. Figuring out what bothers them is the first step to helping your kitty.
Once you know what’s wrong, it will be easier to know how to soothe them, and make them go back to sleep.
Some Cats Breeds are Vocal
Sometimes there is no specific reason your kitten is crying; it’s all about their breed. Breeds such as the Siamese are known to be the most vocal, and may let you know of their presence at any time of the day, by meowing.
Other breeds that are the talkative type are the Japanese Bobtail, Bengal cat, and Burmese cat.
Know Your Kitten’s Development Stages
Learning about your kitten’s different phases of development, can help you figure out why your kitten is crying, and ways to console it.
- Birth to 2 weeks: Their eyes open but have not yet been weaned. It still relies on its mother, and separating them from their mother and littermates can lead to behavioral issues.
- 2 to 7 weeks: The ear canal has fully opened. They can play and socialize and interact with littermates. At around 6 weeks your kitten is weaned, and can start to eat cat food.
- 7 to 14 weeks: Your kitten is ready to explore its surroundings, and increases its physical coordination. By 12 weeks, your kitten is ready to receive vaccinations and be separated from its mom.
Reasons Why Your Kitten is Meowing at Night
It can be hard to know what exactly is bothering your kitten when they start crying at night.
Although your kitten can’t talk, we can still try to figure out what’s making them uncomfortable. This knowledge can help you know how to respond.
Here are possible reasons why your kitten is meowing at night:
1. They are hungry
It is normal for a kitten to meow because it wants food, even if you had just fed it a few hours ago. Kittens’ nutritional needs differ from those of an adult cat. It may have triple the energy needs of an adult cat.
Because your kitten has such high energy needs, it is difficult to fulfil their requirements in one meal. Your kitten is growing at a fast rate, and needs constant feeding to support this explosive growth.
It’s best to feed them at least 3 or 4 times a day. Eating also serves as a comfort to a new kitten that misses its mom, and littermates.
Hunger is one of the main reasons why your kitten wakes you up at night, by meowing.
Feed your kitten specially formulated and balanced kitten food, to quiet down your crying kitten. Feeding them the correct type of food ensures they stay full for a long time, and enjoy a good night’s rest.
Very young kittens need canned food. They have small teeth and can’t chew dry food well.
The best thing to do is to test out different kitten foods, and watch the ones your kitten prefers. If your kitten has been exposed to different flavors, it is easier to switch foods.
If you are making a switch, go slow while introducing the new canned food. Offer smaller portions of the old food, and large proportions of the new food.
Rapid changes in food can cause hunger strikes, in turn, causing your furry friend to meow throughout.
Have a separate bowl of fresh water available, in case they get thirsty. Don’t leave canned food open as it can get spoilt, especially in warm weather.
2. It has been separated from its mother too early
Bringing a kitten home that has been separated from its mother too early can be detrimental to the kitten.
Although the mother cat may wean her kitten at 1 month of age, the weaning process continues for another month.
The first few weeks of a kitten are essential for its health and body development. Their mother’s milk, including the colostrum, provides them with essential nutrients and antibodies for strong bone, eye, and for the development of other organs.
Removing your kitten from its mother too soon can also lead to behavioral problems later. A mother cat teaches her kittens lifelong lessons such as grooming themselves, using the litterbox, hunting, and avoiding rough play.
Your kitten should be at least 12 weeks of age before you adopt it. In fact, the longer you wait, say at least 12 weeks, the better your kitten will be.
If you allow your kitten to spend extra time with its smother and littermates, they will have better chances of being healthy, well socialized, and physically developed.
Otherwise, they will have a hard time adjusting to new surroundings when you bring them home.
You will then need to spend a long time trying to bond with a kitten who was removed from its mother at an early age.
3. It wants comfort or attention
Even though some breeds are a bit reserved, most kittens like the comfort of being held and stroked by their human parent.
Your kitten may cry at night because it misses the comfort its mother gave it.
Before you go to sleep, spend some time holding your pet, gently stroking it, or brushing it with a soft brush or your hand.
While handling your kitten, here are few points to keep in mind:
- Pick it up with both hands so that it does not fall.
- Don’t allow children to hold your pet, they can be too rough with it, or even drop them. This can cause your kitten to have a negative view of humans and be fearful of you.
- Put a blanket on your arm, because your kitten might claw on you if it’s afraid of heights.
You can also talk to your kitten as you stroke it. They may not understand what exactly you are saying, but it is a soothing action to a crying kitten. Call its name in a soft voice.
4. It wants to play
Cats are natural hunters. Even at a young age, your kitten wants to explore, and test out its predatory skills.
They will do this by playing with your feet, pouncing on toys, or moving curtains. Your kitten has a lot of energy, and needs to be physically and mentally active for them to be happy.
Play is also an important part of your kitten’s development, and it helps them bond with you.
Since your kitten is wired to be active at night, they may cry because they want to play and wants you to join them.
Of course, it’s not realistic to be waking up every night to play with your kitten. But you can wisely use your time during the day to entertain your little one by playing various interactive games with them.
It’s good to have a supply of toys appropriate for your kitten, like moving mice, balls, feathers, and cardboard boxes.
Something that might seem simple such as tossing a ball back and forth, can excite your kitten. You can also hide some treats inside a food puzzle, and let your kitten find them.
Give them lots of physical and mental stimulation during the day for quieting nighttime meowing.
5. It is cold
Kittens need to be put in a warm place for them to enjoy their sleep. Just like human babies, kittens will cry at night on a chilly night because they can’t get to sleep.
Remember your kitten was used to sheltering under the warm embrace of its mother, and littermates. You now need to provide a warm environment to avoid nighttime meowing.
Set up a warm kitten bed for your little one to make them feel cozy. You can purchase one online, or at a pet store, but if you are a handy person, making one is not too difficult.
A cardboard box is a good insulator that makes an ideal kitten bed. Use a box with high sides, and stuff some soft blankets or towels inside. Keep the box away from sources of cool air, such as air conditioning.
Change the bedding frequently to maintain a clean environment.
You can also place a hot water bottle on your kitten’s bed. Don’t use boiling water, and shut the lid tightly. The warmth from the hot water bottle will make your kitten feel relaxed, and comfortable.
If you use a heating pad, you can be wrap it in light clothing so that the kitten will not be burnt by the pad.
Some cat owners suggest putting your item, such as a T-shirt on your kitten’s bed, so that they can get used to your scent.
6. It has found a dirty litterbox
Another reason why your kitty might cry at night, is to let you know that it wants to use the litterbox.
Kittens respond quite fast to litterbox training, and will rarely need your help when they want to do their business.
But they find a dirty litterbox repulsive, and will not use it unless you clean it.
Scoop and change your kitten’s litter at least once a day. Clean the tray at least once a week, with unscented soap or baking soda.
Think about your kitten’s size when choosing a litter tray for them. It might be clean, but too large for them to climb inside.
Aside from a clean litterbox, here are other things to remember when providing your kitten with a litterbox:
- Use clumping unscented litter
- Don’t cover the tray with a lid as they won’t be able to open it
- Place the box in a quiet place away from human traffic
- If you have multiple cats, use a box for different cat
These basic tips will help your kitten feel more comfortable using their litterbox.
7. It is sick
If you have ensured your pet is comfortable, but it is still meowing, schedule an appointment with your vet. They can help determine what is making your kitten cry at night.
Some feline diseases can cause a kitten to feel hungry or restless all the time. Check to see if your crying kitten appears withdrawn, or is feverish.
8. It is stuck or injured
A normal meow is different from a shriek. If you hear your kitten giving out a piercing cry, perhaps it is stuck in some place, or injured.
Perhaps its tail has been stepped on, or it was trying to pass through a small opening, and got stuck.
Go check immediately to see how badly your kitten is injured. You can rush them to the vet if needed.
Keep your Kitten in a Small Room
Once you bring in your new kitten home, keep it in a small room. Leaving your kitten to wander the entire house can make it feel confused, and even scared.
The new environment can seem intimidating to them, and it can even get lost. During the night, your kitten’s curiosity may move them to investigate your house, which often results in accidents.
This small room should be a comfortable space that is warm, cozy, and quiet so that they feel secure. It can be either a spare bedroom, or laundry room.
This small space helps your kitten slowly adjust to the new surroundings, without feeling too overwhelmed.
Because of their small body size, your kitten can get stuck in small spaces, and cry out for help. Keeping your kitten in a small space also makes training easier.
They quickly get used to going to the corner of the room that has their litterbox, or food bowl.
The small room should have everything your kitten needs such as:
- Warm and comfortable cat bed
- A scratching post
- Food and water bowls
- Hiding places such as cardboard boxes
Tell other household members to avoid going into the room, especially in large groups, as this may further scare your kitten.
Don’t Reinforce the Crying Habit
Even though you might be worried that something is wrong when your kitten cries, sometimes it’s best to ignore them.
Your kitten may just want attention, and responding to them each time they meow can reinforce the habit. They learn that when they cry, they will get a response from you in the form of treats, cuddles, or play.
If you always give in to their demands, you are teaching your kitten the wrong behavior.
Don’t Sleep with Your Kitten on the Bed
No matter how sorry you feel for your crying kitten, it’s not ok to bring them to your bed to sleep with you. I know it can be tempting, but doing so can be dangerous for you, and your pet.
The first danger is that cats carry transmittable diseases. Another risk is that you can smother your kitten in your sleep.
To keep both you and your kitten safe, it’s best to let them sleep in their room.
Having a kitten in your bed can also affect your sleep. As nocturnal animals, your kitten may wake you up in the wee hours of the night, playing with your feet.
The habit can also promote dominance with the kitten. After sleeping for a long time in your bed, it begins to view your bedroom as its territory, and gets agitated when someone else enters the room.
Adopt an Extra Kitten
As we have seen, to help your kitten settle in their new environment, you need to provide them with lots of love, attention, and physical stimulation.
Separation anxiety in a kitten happens when a kitten feels insecure because, they have to depend on others for their needs to be met.
Keeping this in mind, it may not be possible to fulfill all your kitten’s needs, especially at night when you want to rest.
That’s why, if its possible and feasible for you to do so, it’s advisable to adopt an extra kitten to provide your pet with companionship. Adopting an extra kitten is one of the best ways to ensure the pair entertain and mentally stimulate each other.
The extra kitten will help in grooming its friend in places the other one can’t reach.
Once your kitten is active and engaged, it lessens the probability of bad behaviors, such as acting out due to boredom, or loneliness.