5 Reasons Why Kittens Cry and What To Do

Photo of Karen Dell

Karen Dell

Senior Editor • Backyard Cat Enclosures

02 April 2019

Although some breeds of cat — like the Siamese — are very talkative normally, a kitten crying is never normal and points toward something that is wrong. Here are some of the most common reasons why your kitten may be crying, as well as what you can do about it.

Your kitten may cry because they feel lonely. This could be because they’ve just been separated from their litter mates through adoption. If you have more than one kitten or pet, your kitten may also be calling for them.
When you hear your kitten crying, go to them to see what is wrong and give them some time and love. Spending some time to play with them is not only good for your kitten’s development, but also good for your bonding and for building trust.
Confusion, feeling lost
Young or new kittens, who do not yet know the layout of the house may cry when they get “lost” and isn’t sure how to return to a spot that feels familiar to them. It will take a few days for your new kitten(s) to discover the layout of the home, so don’t worry. You can be sure, however, that once they do, they will make ample use of the space inside the house and inside their outdoor enclosure!

Sometimes kittens will cry when they are hungry. If you’ve just adopted them, you may be feeding them on a different schedule than they were used to at the shelter or breeder where you got them. It’s therefore always a good idea to make sure what, when, and how much the shelter or breeder was feeding your kitten.
If your kitten really isn’t keen on eating the food that you bought for them, try a different flavour or different brand. Over time you’ll get to know whether your kitten likes fish flavours like tuna or salmon or whether they prefer chicken or beef. There will also, most likely, be one brand of food that your kitten will like as a kitten and as an adult.
If you are at work during the day, leave a bowl of dry food out for your kitten to nibble on when they do get hungry. (Don’t leave wet food, as it may spoil, especially in hot weather.)
If you are afraid that you are not feeding your kitten enough, or you are struggling to feed your kitten, it’s best to contact your vet to rule out any underlying illnesses, worms or parasites.

Using the litter box
Many kittens, when they are either still young or are just starting to use the litter box, will meow or cry when they defecate. While this behaviour usually goes away, it is important to keep an eye on them just in case. If your kitten is straining, seems in pain, or has diarrhoea, there is another problem and a vet visit would be in order.
While it may be as simple as the food being too rich for your kitten’s tummy, diarrhoea can very quickly cause dehydration and become life threatening. It is, therefore, better to visit the vet sooner rather than later.

Pain or sickness
No cry of pain or sign of sickness in kittens should be left unattended; as they may lead to more serious health problems or illnesses. Even if you step on you kitten’s tail, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on it for any limpness. The reason for this is that damage to the tail’s nerves can cause bladder problems. If you do notice any limpness, get your kitten to the vet and tell them what happened.
Cats are known for hiding illness and pain, making these difficult to diagnose. The good news is that kittens are less adept as their adult-counterparts in hiding pain or illness.

If you notice that your kitten is in pain, has a fever, or simply doesn’t seem like themselves, it’s best to get them to the vet for a thorough check-up.


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