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My indoor, neutered, male cat, probably age 10-12 (shelter adoption so unsure), sometimes suddenly starts meowing very loudly and plaintively while wandering around the house. At times when I've seen it start, he's previously been sleeping or otherwise relaxed. It happens most often in the hour or so to either side of when I go to bed at night. I've had him for six years and this behavior began in the last year or so. My vet has found no clinical explanation; she said that it can be a sign of dementia in much older cats but doesn't think that's the case here.

I haven't made any environmental changes and his behavior is otherwise normal. Because his pupils stay dilated all the time and I read pupil dilation and excessive vocalization can indicate hypertension, we checked his blood pressure. While three readings (in one visit) were a little inconsistent, my vet did not consider it excessive and it was a little lower in another exam a few months later. An ophthalmologist we consulted (because of the pupil dilations) found no vision problems and thinks the dilations are age-related.

I've had one other cat who did this loud meowing starting at around age 17, and three other cats who never did. Is this just normal behavioral variation, or is there something else I should be looking for?

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One possibility is hearing loss. The cat may not be able to properly hear his own meows, so he meows more loudly. I'd ask your vet about that possibility. Depending on the cause, perhaps it can be treated. If not, it may be something that you have to live with.

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There might not be anything wrong. Possibly just lonely. My cat also does this, she will go around meowing loudly. It isn't consistent and there is nothing wrong with her health-wise. Most often she will pick up a certain toy in her mouth and carry it around while meowing. We will find it in the morning outside our bedroom.

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  • Mine also carries specific toys around when he's doing this sometimes. What's puzzling about the loneliness angle is that sometimes he'll have previously been right there with me, and then he'll get up, leave, and start yowling a few minutes later. – Monica Cellio Dec 20 '18 at 20:32
  • Welcome to Pets SE. Your cats seem to do the same things. Did you ask your vet about it? Does this behavior come and go (like with mating season) or is it all the time? – elbrant Dec 21 '18 at 18:28

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