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I've been a cat parent off and on my entire life and this is a new behavior for me. Sometimes, at night, my 7-year-old spayed cat will walk into the living room and yowl until someone calls her at which point she will come to them and cuddle. It happens once or twice per week. I'd understand if my door was closed or something but that's not the case. She deliberately chooses to walk from my bed to the living room and yowels until called. Sometimes she'll start drooling from happiness and usually won't repeat this behavior more than once per night. This "anxiety yowl" is a very similar sound to the one she makes when she's accidentally locked outside (which has only happened a handful of times in the last several years). Can anyone explain this behavior and how to prevent it?

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    Is your cat male or female? And is it neutered / spayed or intact? Please edit this information into your question.
    – Elmy
    Feb 13, 2023 at 10:45
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    not an answer but... It might be that your cat is actually playing a small game, trying to get you to interact with her, while re-confirming the friendship ties and manifesting some positive emotions. She pretends she is trapped outside, and needs your rescue. You calling her is her "rescue". You might be her Price Charming. You might not be able to prevent it, but "move" this behavior at some time of your convenience - maybe by having some friendly / emotional time before (your) sleep time.
    – virolino
    Feb 13, 2023 at 14:10
  • You say she walks from your bed to the living room; have you tried closing the door so she can't leave the bedroom?
    – Allison C
    Feb 14, 2023 at 15:31

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Cats learned to meow in order to communicate with their humans. Kittens meow at their mothers, but adult cats will rarely meow to communicate with each other. It's pretty well established that they meow on our behalf, and some cats are more vocal than others. I think that's just what your cat is doing. Your cat likes you, and wants your attention.

Your cat learned that meowing in a certain way will illicit a response from you (meowing when she's locked outside means you let her in), and you continually responding to this meow even now only confirms that for her. My cat meows and yowls at me all the time, and I love to chat right back at him, but I understand that it can sometimes get annoying. Here's a couple things you can try.

Ignore her: I don't really recommend this one. Only do it if you know she is 100% okay, and you've given her plenty of love and attention throughout the day. That being said, because you respond every time, it's a learned behavior for her. "If I meow, they give me attention." If you stop responding to her meows, she may realize that doesn't work and she'll need to try other things if she's seeking attention. Maybe she will just come quietly seek out a lap, but she might do something even more obnoxious.

Be preemptive: This one I highly recommend. It sounds like she meows at just this specific time (evenings, in the living room). Even though she might not always meow, you can try just preemptively giving her attention in the evenings before she meows (pick her up, call her over, wiggle a toy, etc). It's obvious she wants your attention, so try to give it to her before she has to ask. Try playing with her more throughout the day, too. She may meow at this time if she thinks it's the only time she can get attention from you.

All cats have different vocalization habits. It's important to pay attention to them, and notice any changes, in case something really is wrong. It never hurts to take her to the vet, or at least address it during her next scheduled check-up. But I don't get the feeling that your cat is meowing out of distress, nor is she meowing excessively in any way.

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  • What's odd is that she already has ways of communicating her needs. If she wants me to follow her she'll gently reach up and pat my leg with her paw. It's absolutely adorable. She isn't shy about hopping on my lap if she wants attention.
    – Tag
    Feb 14, 2023 at 23:21
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    She sounds adorable! My cat has a large variety of ways he communicates to me too. Like us, cats can develop different habits through different phases of life, or to meet different needs. Maybe your evening routine has changed that triggered this new habit? even the smallest thing can affect how she thinks. Sleeping in a different room, going to bed earlier, etc.
    – Gwendolyn
    Feb 15, 2023 at 16:54

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