Cats can be interesting in the way they communicate. Obviously, the cat is attached to you, since she is happy once she sees you. Things to consider:
-Is she eating well?
-Has she lost any weight?
-Is her activity level the same as it has been?
-Has she always meowed to you for attention?
-Have you had any vetting on the cat in the last few years?
-Is the cat spayed?
-Do you play with her?
-Is she hungry?
Spay: If she is not spayed, get this done. You can inquire with the Humane Society in regards to low-cost spay clinics. They often charge about $35 or $40 for a spay which is very cheap. The problem to consider is that as female cats get older, if they are not spayed, they are subject to mammary tumors, and this is NOT a pleasant thing to endure. An unspayed cat might meow more during possible heat cycle.
Lonesome: If she is bored or lonesome, she might meow a little bit for your attention, or if she is uncertain where you are. Some cats are very bonded to their “special person”, and it sounds like you are that to her. She may also be missing the dog, but unless this is a new behavior, it may not be connected. Animals do mourn over the loss of a human or animal companion, and she could be “asking” where the dog is.
-Activity level: If the cat’s activity level has changed such as much quieter, staying in one room when used to walk about, time for a vet check. If a cat is quieter than normal, this is a sign of possible illness.
Play: Play with the cat in case she is bored. Use wand toys, or little cat toys to throw around. Cats like to play on occasion. Some cats also love to have a cat tree to sit on and especially if it is close to a window.
Weight loss: If a cat has lost weight, it is time for a vet check-up. It takes very little time for the health of a cat to deteriorate, and loss of weight would be an important sign of illness.
Health: With a cat of 12 years of age, it may be time for some general blood work and health check so you have a record of her numbers. This will give you a baseline if her kidneys begin to show signs of decline, or any other issues. Having this is very useful. Find a vet who can in the least, check her for general health. Most vets charge around $40 for a general office check. If your vet is charging $70 to just walk in the door, that is too much money. Of course, if they do blood work, it will cost more but usually worth it each couple years.
Gums: If you think her gums are pale, check someone else’s cat to compare. Pale gums can be a sign of anemia, and this can quickly deteriorate the health of a cat. If a cat has fleas, it can also develop anemia. In that case, purchase Capstar or the generic Nitenpyram, online. Administer each 3 days until no more fleas. Sprinkle baking soda/salt into carpeting to kill flea eggs and larva; vacuum in 24 hours and repeat in 7 days. If you just can’t tell if her gums are too pale, take her to the vet. Anemia is very important to take care of or assess.
Cuddles: Some cats just like to cuddle. Some just want to know where their “person” is.
But, if your cat seems especially “needy” compared to before, take to the vet. All in all, a vet visit should be considered if the cat “doesn’t seem right”. If you pay $40 for the visit and another $150 for blood work, you ought to have a good idea the general health of your cat. You can refuse any tests or procedures. It is up to you what you agree to have done to the animal.