More often than not, excessive caffeine intake or unpleasant thoughts are to blame for keeping humans awake at night. But for cat fanatics, it’s not uncommon to be jolted awake by a blood-curdling screech coming from no other than the adorable ball of fluff in the corner, otherwise known as our cat. Yowling is many cats’ favorite communicative tool, as this deafening utterance effectively grabs their owner’s attention by virtue of its ear-splitting nature. Often referred to as “caterwauling”, humans must pay attention this melodic method of communication as, the majority of the time, cats caterwaul for a reason.
As our title indicates, we aren’t here to tell you how to stop your cat from yowling full stop. As yowling is a natural response, you should instead be celebrating the fact your feline is trying to communicate to you that something is amiss in their surrounding environment or body. Rather, our intention in writing this informative article is to help you find out what your cat is trying to communicate through outlining the reasons why you can may be yowling. Read on below to discover more.
Cats are certainly vocally expressive creatures and possess a wide vocal repertoire of distinctive sounds. However, their tendency to over-express themselves may work against them. Many worried owners are responsible for dragging their cat, who they believe is caterwauling, along to the vets to find that their cat has only been “meowing” or “chirping” in an expressive manner. In order to prevent yourself from feeling foolish at the vet’s surgery, it’s imperative that you consult the list below so you can identify the distinction between different cat noises.
Meowing: A cat’s classic “meow” is mid-length in duration and also mid-pitch. It’s a cat’s inoffensive way for asking for something!
Chirping: Chirping is often described to sound like bleating or a broken-up meow and is often a cat’s preferred way to communicate to their owner that they’re happy to see them. One cat breed who serve as an example of cats who love to chirp is the Pixie-Bob breed, who are renowned for chirping to express themselves to their owners.
Caterwauling: This sound that comes from deep within a cat’s throat is entirely distinctive from meowing. It’s a long, drawn-out wail that intends to startle and capture the attention of anyone around. An average caterwaul will sound like your pet is in pain, so try not to panic. Seriously, if you’re deliberating whether your cat is yowling or simply meowing, it’s bound to be the latter. Those who have heard a cat caterwauling in the dead of night will never forget it.
Your Cat May Just Love to Natter
We deemed it best to start this article off on a positive note by elucidating that not all cat yowling is bad. Many cats, just like their human companions, simply love to express themselves by yowling, cawing, chirping – whatever works best to grab their human’s attention! One convincing example of a cat breed whose predominant characteristic is their expressive, vocal nature is the Russian Blue breed who enjoy a good yowl when telling their owners about their days. By virtue of an average Russian Blue’s high intelligence level, the majority of these vocal exchanges can even be described as comprehensible to their owners.
They’re Bored and Wanting Attention
Have you been preoccupied with work and haven’t had much time to play with your cat lately? Your cat may decide to show their frustration at not being your first priority through yowling. Try to prioritize your cat by giving them cuddles, engaging them in play, and trying to stay home more. If working from home isn’t possible for the time being, buying your cat a piece of furniture like a cat tree will allow them to mentally stimulate themselves when you aren’t home, thereby keeping yowling to a minimum.
Your Cat Has Outsmarted you
As we all know, cats are very smart creatures. Their high level of independence and commendable short- and long-term memories are several of the reasons.
However, your cat may be using devious and manipulative means to achieve success thanks to their brain power.
One example of how your cat could be using caterwauling as a crafty, manipulative tool is if they’ve noticed that when they “caterwaul” during the night – a time when you, their owner, would do almost anything to stop them from vocalizing at such a high frequency – treats seem to fall into their laps. These master manipulators then mimic this exact behavior (in this instance, yowling) to engender the same reaction. This scenario is an example of learned behavior and is similar to why cats sometimes don’t eat their kibble so you’ll worry and give them calorific treats as replacements.
To stop your cat taking you for a ride, you must be firm and stop bribing them with yummy treats whenever they wake you in the night with their caterwauling. Believe us; your grumpy feline will hate being ignored at first, which may cause them to caterwaul at an even greater volume. However, after a while, their new short-term memory will kick in, causing them to “un-learn” this destructive behavior.
Are they Hungry?
In comparison to their canine companions, cats aren’t usually as motivated by food. However, when a cat is ravishing, most won’t be afraid to act their owner for exactly what they want. Russian Blues are even known for howling after devouring their food, as these energetic cats are always keen for more kibble. If your cat’s wails don’t seem to be food-related, their caterwauling could be as a result of dehydration.
It’s Breeding Season
Female cats can go through their first breeding cycle as early as six months old. As cats are highly fertile creatures, there is no real set breeding season, making it hard for concerned owners to identify whether their cat is yowling because she’s in pain or in heat – otherwise known as estrus. If your female cat has suddenly become very vocal in general and is expressing herself vocally through other means, this points towards them being in heat. Essentially, what your cat is attempting to do is alert male cats to the fact that she’s in heat and ready to mate. To assert whether your cat’s caterwauling is indeed a sign of mating, check if they’re displaying common parasympathetic reactions like increased licking, swallowing, and drooling.
The best solution in this instance is getting your cat “spayed” to prevent her the trauma of going through another estrous cycle – and to prevent you from being subjected to it, too! This relatively low-risk surgery is when a cat’s ovaries and uterus are removed. In some instances, previously spayed cats go back into heat due to the extra ectopic ovarian tissue left behind being responsible for hormone production to induce estrus behavior. Thankfully, this is rare, and most female cats stop yowling soon after the operation.
Yowling May Indicate Cognitive Dysfunction
Feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD), otherwise referred to as cat dementia, is when older cats begin to experience changes in awareness and decreased responsiveness to stimuli. It is extremely common for cats to suffer from cognitive decline. Taking a look at the statistics projected by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), above 55% of cats between 11 to 15 years and more than 80% of cats aged 16 to 20 are affected by cognitive dysfunction.
As older cats who suffer from FCD tend to wake up in the night more due to decreased activity during the day, they’ll often become anxious due to this change in habits, resulting in excessive yowling. Often, your cat will become incredibly confused as to where they are as a result of FCD and, consequently, become scared that they’re in a dangerous place.
If FCD resonates with you as a logical explanation for why your cat has been acting out, therapy is required to help them cope in their later years. Additionally, altering your cat’s kibble is a good place to start: a senior felines diet must be packed full of antioxidants, fatty acids, and essential vitamins. Besides, there are several drug options available for improving your senior feline’s lifestyle with FCD, such as anxiolytic drugs like buspirone and benzodiazepines – although remember that your vet should always make decisions and provide drugs in relation to your cat’s treatment. Finally, it often helps to design your cat’s home environment so they can find their litterbox easily and so they don’t become trapped in corners of your home. Hopefully then, your cat’s tendency to yowl will subsite.
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Your Cat’s Excessive Vocalizing Could Be in Response to Other Illnesses
If you’re confused why your young cat continues to yowl, this unfortunately may indicate that they’re in pain due to a systemic illness. The most common of these diseases are listed below:
- Arthritis: If you’ve noticed that your cat is reluctant to jump up to their favorite haunts, their joints are swollen, and that they’re less flexible in general, arthritis may be an explanation. This is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when a joint’s naturally smooth surface is altered, damaging the cartilage due to the rough bone rubbing together. Unsurprisingly, this friction is very unpleasant for a cat and often causes them to yowl in pain.
- Thyroid Disease: Hyperthyroidism is a common glandular disorder that is induced by an excessive concentration of thyroid hormone in a cat’s bloodstream. As a result of this excess hormonal production, a cat’s body’s metabolic rate will skyrocket and their appetite will be insatiable Common symptoms include quick weight loss, excessive dehydration and, of course, yowling.
- Kidney Malfunction: If your cat’s kidneys are suddenly incapable of functioning properly, their appetite will subside, and excess vocalization will ensue. Watch out for other symptoms such as a decreased appetite and increased water intake and urination.
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If you believe your cat’s ear-curdling yowls are among a list of symptoms for one of these illnesses, take them to the vet just to be sure. Hopefully, their incessant caterwauling is just a case of acute abdominal pain – yet only by taking them to a professional can you be certain.
Your Cat is Confused or Upset Due to a Recent Move
Nothing confuses a cat more when their life is turned upside down as a result of a recent move or change. For our cats, their home is their territory, so when they’re made to change neighborhood this is bound to be an upsetting, anxiety-provoking situation. Otherwise, if you find that your cat often starts their yowling in close proximity to a door, chances are they are just confused where to exit their new digs! Furthermore, if you’re trying to transition your cat to be an indoor cat from an indoor-outdoor domesticated feline, they’ll undoubtedly be confused and start acting up.
Our Final Thoughts
Although we’re reiterated this time and time again in the course of this article, we thought we’d do so once more, just for luck: don’t overlook caterwauling. Reading this article to the end already shows that you’re willing to solve this problem. Now, it’s time to take precautions to solving caterwauling to the next level by assessing the many reasons why cats tend to yowl alongside the symptoms exhibited by your cat.
If you’re still at a loss, we recommend seeking veterinary attention for your feline. Taking your cat with a tendency to yowl to the vet certainly doesn’t mean you’ve failed to identify the problem. To the contrary; it signifies that you care so deeply about your cat that you’ll take time out of your day and money from your bank to get the bottom of this major conundrum by involving a professional.
- Meowing and Yowling – ASPCA