alarm clock catQ: My cat suddenly has what is referred to as “Alarm Clock Cat.” She recently picked up the habit of meowing at the same time every morning between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m., which she never used to do. We’ve tried feeding her at different times (late at night/early morning) and that doesn’t always work. Suggestions?

A: This is a common problem that is really annoying! We see older cats develop night time vocalizations as part of a suspected form of dementia and this can be very hard to manage. For younger cats, vocalizing is usually a cry for attention. It can mean the kitty does not feel well or is just hungry.

I would want to meet your cat, see if she is overweight at all, talk to you about your entire routine and do a physical exam before making any recommendations. Changes in feeding protocols or diets really need to be based on the medical evaluation and your entire family’s lifestyle. There are many things we can do to help with behavioral vocalization that is not related to dementia, so a visit to the vet is probably worth the effort. Thanks for asking!  -Dr. Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP