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Cat waking up meowing (Why and What to do)

Being a cat parent, it is a sure bet that you never thought you would have to be an investigator of why your cat meows when waking up.

You sign on as your cat’s advocate for the rest of Fluffy’s life. You never ignore its meows, and you try your best to find out why they are doing what they are doing.

You do your best to supply all its essentials and go the extra mile to make Fluffy’s home a place where it is happy and content.

Why Does My Cat Wake Up Meowing? 

Cats are on a different timeline than you are, depending on your work hours. If you are a night person who sleeps the day away, you and your cat certainly have something in common.

Cats are basically nocturnal creatures, meaning they prefer to sit and watch, play, and go on a hunt during the night while you sleep. However, I believe that cats try to do as you do, meaning if you sleep all night, they will follow your lead.

I have been into feline rescue and cat care for over 25 years. Most of the kitties we adopt sleep most of the night. They are up a great deal during the day, but with a few intermittent cat naps.

Cats sleep approximately 18 hours per day, and I have found no cat on the same schedule as another.

Some cat researchers have mentioned that cats will try to mimic their owner’s schedule, and I have found this to be true.

What I see are at least four of our six kitties turning in for the night at about 7 pm, and to my knowledge, they sleep until we arise in the morning.

So, what could cause a cat to wake up meowing?

Cat researchers and cat parents, including me, have found the following possibilities. But who is to know for sure?


Some cat owners feel that if their cat awakens while meowing, it has been dreaming. I have seen cats meow, hiss, tremor, and whine while sleeping, and I always attribute this to my cat being in a dream state.

If I awaken one of my sleeping cats, it will undoubtedly meow as if to say, “What do you want? Can’t you see I am sleeping?”

I cannot remember any of our current six cats meowing while waking up from sleep. My Mia sleeps at the foot of my bed. I do notice, at times, her body slightly jumping while sleeping as though she is in dreamland.

When a cat awakens while meowing, it could be nothing at all, or it could signify that you need to take the kitty to the vet for a check-up.

Sleep Deprived

Some cats are said to awaken while meowing because they do not sleep well.


Some feel that if a cat awakens meowing, it needs some extra special hugs and attention to help them relax and fall back to sleep. They may have been in the middle of a dream, and something awakened them. They simply want to go back to sleep.

Or, it could simply mean it wants to get its day started on the right foot with a hug and kitty kiss and reassurance.

Possible Health Issues

Some cat parents discover that when their fur baby awakens while meowing, it is found by the vet to have hyperthyroidism or a kidney issue. Cats do not get hypothyroidism.

The Aging Process

All things on earth have a life cycle. Unfortunately, everything ages. I know that you may now want to look at that aspect, but you and your cat are aging, ugh!

With aging comes possible icky health problems like cognitive decline, confusion, sluggish thinking, and sometimes a bit of disorientation.

Your cat may be having these age-related issues also. However, age affects each human differently, as much as age affects cats differently.

Feline researchers found that multiple things can happen as a cat’s brain ages. One thing that is all too common is when a cat awakens while meowing.


Years ago, when we first got into cat rescue, we had a six-foot privacy fence installed around our house to keep the cats contained. I did not want them running around the neighborhood and getting hurt. It was for their own good.

However, while some cats accept boundaries, others, like my Lil’ Luke, do not. He is grossly unhappy when confined to the house or yard, and it has to be on his terms, not mine. My enclosed front porch is all screens; breezy and fabulous, but it does not suffice with Luke.

Luke must have his morning run wherever. Laze on the front steps in the sun for a spell, and then he is happy to come in for breakfast and a rest. Luke is our fence jumper.

If he does not run a bit, he kicks the other cats into oblivion. Let him have his time outside, and he is my charming, sweet gentleman. This is what cats are born to do and not be confined to the inside. Luke never wakes up meowing.

Do I mind Luke’s must-have routine? 


Is this a safe practice?

Absolutely not! I am so afraid that Luke is going to get hurt. An outside environment is a dangerous place for cats.

If Lil’ Luke becomes hurt, I would never forgive myself, but I have to remember that he is doing what he does naturally and is happiest when doing it.

My other five cats are not fence jumpers, and they get to laze in the yard as long as they want, but only until 7 pm. Most want in long before that time.

Some say that if a cat is not allowed outside of their confined area, they can feel overly confined, and this may be why they wake up meowing or howling.

Some other reasons why some cat owners think their cat wakes up meowing are as follows.

Sudden Changes in the Cat’s Sleeping Environment

  • Sudden environmental changes like a sudden storm, bright sunlight, an alarm clock going wild, or the doorbell ringing can cause the kitty to wake up meowing.
  • Hunger
  • Wants cuddle time
  • Temperature changes (the cat is too hot or too cold)
  • Under stress
  • Agitated
  • Injured
  • It is the cat’s way of saying, “Good Morning.”

What to Do If My Cat Wakes Up Meowing?

  • If your cat frequently wakes up meowing, it is wise to have your vet examine your cat for an underlying health problem. Get this step out of the way first. If the vet gives your cat a clean bill of health, then you can start to investigate other possible reasons one at a time. Perhaps your vet has some ideas you can investigate.
  • Some kitties wake up meowing because they are hungry and you are not getting to the kitchen fast enough. So if you feed them breakfast, this takes care of the problem. If they are still meowing, maybe they want more.
  • Your responses to your cat’s meows upon waking up set a routine in motion of how you react to its meowing, which soon becomes a habit. And all this time, you thought you were training your cat? Our cats train us in the most crafty ways, and before you know it, they have us right where they want us. I have seen this happen time and again. Cats are brilliant, conniving critters.
  • You could keep the kitty’s sleeping area darkened until they awaken. You cannot control the phone ringing, doorbell chiming, or alarm going off.

Meowing is your cat’s way of getting your attention. As your cat’s parent, your job is to figure out why your cat does this and try to correct it, starting with a clean bill of health from your vet.