Excessive Vocalization in Older Cats May Signal Medical Problem

October 24, 2012

Cats communicate not only with their voices but also via body posture, and visual and olfactory (smell) markers. Feline vocalization must be interpreted within the context of not only the sounds they make, but also how they behave when they vocalize, what the body posture is at the time, and what visual clues the cat provides.

Cats may vocalize for any number of reasons, including fear, pain, distress, anxiety, curiosity, anger, complaint, and even bewilderment. Old cats may start vocalizing because they have gone deaf or have failing vision. They may also vocalize because of pain or discomfort. For example, older cats may suffer from such painful problems as periodontal disease or arthritis. Some older cats may also vocalize because of mental confusion or senile dementia. This can lead to anxiety and distress, and ultimately, bouts of vocalization.

Finally, cats may become more demanding as they get older. For example, they may want to be let out, or want increased attention and affection and vocalization may simply be a demand for more freedom or companionship. For all of these reasons, cats that vocalize should be examined by a veterinarian to make sure that they are in good health.