Cats can’t speak to humans in our language, but they still have their own ways of communicating. You are probably familiar with your cat’s typical meow, but they can make other noises as well. If your cat is making strange noises when eating, you may be amused or even concerned. Why are they doing it? Should you be worried?

Why does my cat make weird noises when eating?

Does your cat become a chatterbox as soon as they see their food bowl filled? There are several reasons for this, depending on the noise your cat is making. 

Meowing

Does your cat meow while eating? You expect your cat to be happy and content when you feed them, so you may be surprised to hear them meowing while they eat their meal. 

Dislike Food or Food Bowl

Cats can be notoriously finicky eaters. If you’ve recently changed your cats food, they may be meowing to let you know they don’t like it. If they’ve been on the same food for awhile, they may be bored with it. 

Would you want to eat the same thing for every meal indefinitely? You would quickly get bored and want more variety. Cats do not need or expect the same variety as a human diet, but they do need an occasional change.

It’s also possible that the food bowl is the problem. If you’ve recently changed their bowl, they may be complaining about it. Cats usually prefer a bowl with low sides or a flat saucer. This allows them to see around them, and prevents their sensitive whiskers from touching the bowl. 

Pain

Your cat may be meowing because they are in pain. Dental problems are the most well known reason your cat may be in pain while eating, but it’s far from the only possibility. 

Gastrointestinal problems like acid reflux can also make eating painful for your kitty. 

The position they eat in can also be to blame. If you have an older cat, they may have orthopedic problems. Bending down to reach their food may be painful. 

Fear or Anxiety

Fear or anxiety can also cause your kitty to meow while eating. If they are scared or stressed, they will probably feel conflicting emotions. They enjoy eating and it brings pleasant feelings. At the same time, they may be scared the food will be taken away. They could be scared of something unrelated to the food, like being attacked. 

This mix of feelings can cause them to meow. You may even notice the meow sounds confused. 

Growling

If your cat growls while eating, they are trying to protect their food. This is understandable if there is another cat or other animal nearby, but what if they are alone? What if you are the only one there? Are they still growling to protect their food? 

Instinct

Cats are solitary hunters. They catch their food on their own, and eat it on their own as well. Lions are the exception to the rule. Lions live and hunt in groups known as prides. All other species of cat, including the ancestors of the domestic cat, were solitary hunters. 

Experience

Instinct isn’t the only reason cats growl when eating. If your cat has ever lived with other cats, or outside, they are probably used to defending their food. A cat in the wild will have predators to contend with. Even predators who are too small to be a threat to the cat can steal their hard-earned meal. 

Even if the cat is now indoors, they are still used to defending their food. It’s natural for them to continue the behavior even when it’s no longer needed. 

They may also growl when eating if you are nearby. They instinctively fear that you will take their food. 

Purring

Cats can also purr when eating. This is an adorable behavior, and typically indicates that they are feeling well. 

Happiness

Purring is often a sign of happiness. If your cat purrs when she’s eating, she’s content and happy. 

Likes Food

Purring while eating can mean that your cat enjoys their food. You may say mmmhhmm when eating your favorite meal. Your cat, on the other hand, will purr as a way of complimenting the chef.

Why does my cat make weird noises after eating?

There are a few reasons your cat may make weird noises after eating. It can be strange to hear odd noises from your cat. 

Still Hungry

Is your cat meowing after eating? They may still be hungry. The average cat only needs a small amount of food, between 1/3 to 1/2 a cup each day. 

They do need more calories during the winter months, however. Cats typically eat 20% more food in the winter than in the summer. In the wild, this is necessary to keep their bodies warm. While indoor cats don’t have the same increased calorie need, their appetite will still increase in the winter. 

Anxious

Your cat will also meow after eating if they are anxious. Just like people, cats can develop anxiety. If the noises started after a change in the household or routine, this is probably the culprit. 

A new pet or person in the household or someone leaving the household can be very stressful for your kitty. A change in their routine is also stressful. If your schedule has changed, you can expect your cat to need an adjustment period. 

Other signs of anxiety include pottying outside the litterbox, hiding, aggression, and compulsive licking. 

Bored

Cats can also become bored. The signs are often similar to those of anxiety.

A bored cat may pee or poop in inappropriate areas. They may scratch or bite things that are off limits, including furniture, carpet, and belongings. They may groom themselves excessively, and sleep more than usual.  

Stomach Problems

Gastrointestinal problems can also cause your cat to make strange noises. They may meow if their stomach is causing pain.

You may also hear strange noises coming from their stomach, like growls or gurgles. These sounds aren’t always an indication there’s a problem, but if they are accompanied by meowing or a change in appetite, it’s best to get a checkup. 

Needs Attention

Your cat may also make odd noises after eating simply because they are seeking your attention. Despite their reputation as being standoffish, many cats develop a close relationship with their owner. 

Just like humans, they need interaction and connection to be happy and healthy. If you haven’t been as attentive as you typically are, this may be the culprit. 

Why does my cat make weird noises before eating?

Does your cat’s stomach remind you it’s lunch time? Does your cat make strange noises and rub against your legs or go to their food bowl? Do they chirp at the site of their favorite food? 

Dinner Bell

The most obvious reason your cat makes strange noises before eating is that they are reminding you it’s time to feed them. They may meow or use other vocalizations to let you know they are hungry. This will usually be paired with them jumping into your lap, rubbing your legs, or going to their food bowl. You may also see an expectant look, as if they are saying, “I expect you to feed me now human”. 

Stomach Noises 

Stomach noises can be caused by an empty stomach or food digestion. If your cat has an empty tummy, you may hear a sound similar to your own stomach growling. 

In addition to growling, your cat’s stomach may squeak. This is an odd sound, but it’s typically nothing to worry about. 

However, if your cat is meowing frequently, has diarrhea, or vomitting, there may be a problem with their digestive system. In this case, you should make an appointment with the vet. 

If your cat seems happy and healthy, you can safely assume it’s just their stomach doing its job. 

Why does my cat make a crunching noise when eating?

It can be disconcerting to hear your cat making crunching noises when eating, unless they are eating bones. There are some concerning potential causes for this sound. 

 Tooth Resorption 

Tooth resorption is the technical name for tooth disintegration. The dentin of the teeth erodes. Eventually, this can cause teeth to break or fall out. The damage to the teeth can cause severe pain when eating, causing your cat to make strange noises. 

Inflammatory Gum Disease

Inflammation in your cat’s mouth is a common cause of oral pain. This can include inflammatory gum disease and mouth ulcers. The swollen gums will cause pain, particularly when eating. 

Your cat may grit their teeth against the pain, which can make the problem worse. 

Cancer or Tumors

Cancer or tumors can also cause your cat to grind their teeth. It’s a scary thought, but cats can develop cancer just as humans can. Tumors will sometimes be visible on your cat’s body. You may notice a swollen area or a lump. 

Cancer is not readily visible. However, you may notice appetite changes, lethargy, and general malaise. 

In addition, you may notice a strange odor coming from your cat. Their coat may look dull or unhealthy as well. 

Abnormal Alignment

Abnormal tooth alignment can cause your cat’s teeth to grind when they are eating. It’s more common in Persian cats because they were bred to have short faces. However, it can occur in other breeds as well. 

If you look at your cat’s teeth,the top and bottom teeth should line up. If they don’t, your kitty has an abnormal alignment. 

Some cats have abnormally long fangs. This is known as extrusion. It makes it difficult for the cat to close their mouth, which can also cause them to grind their teeth. 

Pain

Have you ever gritted your teeth because you were in pain? Cats sometimes do this as well. If your cat is grinding their teeth, this may be why. 

The pain is not always related to their mouth or digestive system. Pain in other areas can cause them to grind their teeth as well. If you notice that they only do it when eating, the problem is likely their mouth or teeth. If it typically occurs after eating, their digestive system may be to blame. If they grind their teeth on and off throughout the day, they may experience chronic pain. 

Is it normal for a cat to make noises when eating?

Yes, it’s common for a cat to make noises while eating. It’s the most common in kittens, and some cats eat silently as they grow older. Some cats are very protective of their food, and will growl when eating. Others enjoy eating, and are vocal about liking their food. 

What to do about my cat making weird noises when eating?

It depends on why your cat is making the noises. If they are happy noises, there’s nothing you need to do. However, if they are meowing, growling, or making strange noises with their stomach, there are steps to take. 

Meowing

If your cat is meowing when eating, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet for a checkup. It’s possible that they are in pain or have stomach issues. The vet can either identify or rule out these problems. 

If the cause isn’t physical, you may try changing their food or their food bowl. 

Growling

If your cat is growling when eating, it’s best to let them eat alone. If you have other cats, feed them in separate areas. Avoid going near the cat while they are eating, and ensure that the space is quiet and peaceful. This will help your kitty feel secure when eating.

Stomach Noises

If your cat’s stomach makes noises, but they are otherwise healthy, there’s nothing to worry about. 

However, if you notice your cat has diarrhea, vomiting, or seems unwell, a trip to the vet is in order. There are many potential causes of stomach noises, including gastritis and intestinal blockage. 

Boredom or Anxiety

If you believe boredom or anxiety are at the heart of your cat’s vocalizations, they will need a little extra care. 

If they are bored, consider getting them a few new toys. Rotating the toys will help keep your cat from becoming bored. Do not leave the toys out, because the cat will quickly lose interest. 

Instead, bring the toys out when you can play with your cat. Mechanical toys and food puzzles can also help keep your cat entertained when you can’t play with them. 

If they are experiencing anxiety, try to pinpoint the cause. If it’s something you can change, do so. If not, be patient with your cat and give them extra TLC as they learn to cope. 

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.