Everything You Need to Know about Cat Yowling


As human beings, words are the primary mode of communication with each other; although, sometimes body language plays a part. Our furry friends do not speak, yet they have a lot to say if only we pay attention. Every sound, be it a yowl, meow, or purr, that a cat makes carries a message, and it is up to us to decode it. As you practice how to decode the cat’s vocalizations and body language, let’s help out by enlightening you all about cat yowling.

What is Cat Yowling?

A cat yowl or howl is a long, low-pitched moan from a cat’s throat. It is usually louder and longer than a meow and is among the many sounds that cats make. According to Modern Cat, yowls are often cat-cat as well as feline-human communication. Some say that once you hear a cat yowl, you will never forget that sound. It also differs from meowing because, unlike yowling that adult cats use to convey messages, adult cats do not meow at each other. Only kittens do, and adult cats only meow at humans. Cat yowling is closely related to caterwauling. Caterwauling has been described as a hollow-version of yowl; others say it is a cross between a yowl, whine, and howl. Still, just like a yowl, you will never forget it when you hear it. Only female cats in heat produce the caterwauling sound. As VCA explains, caterwauling is a disturbing cat language, and listening to it is no fun. A female cat will do everything she can to go outside to be with male cats eagerly waiting and fighting, each hoping to be the father of the cat’s kittens. Therefore, the best way to stop a cat from making the sound is to learn what the sound means so you can meet its needs.

• Hunger

According to Catster, the only way to know the precise reason for your cat’s yowls is to act like a detective. Since there are many causes of cat yowling, your best bet is to investigate and eliminate till you find your answer. Among the many reasons for cat yowling is hunger. If your cat finds its bowl empty but wants to eat, it will start yowling, begging for food. While you might be tempted to fill up that bowl to get rid of that annoying sound, you should wait until the cat has quieted down to feed it. Animal behaviorists believe that once you feed the cat as soon as it starts yowling, it will grow up thinking that is the ideal way to ask for food whenever it is hungry. The learned behavior can be hard to eliminate; therefore, by feeding the cats when they are quiet, they understand that they must stop yowling to be fed. Besides, if every time your cat yowls you fill the empty bowl, your cats will soon become obese. It only takes a little overfeeding to get kittens to become overweight. Note that once your cat is fed and it continues yowling, there could be another reason.

• Stress

Cats yowl whenever they are anxious about something. Changing the cat’s environment is bound to cause anxiety. Therefore, if you have recently relocated, you can expect the cat to make the yowling sounds. A cat that has been adopted by a new family will be stressed out by the unfamiliar faces; hence, the vocalization. Sometimes, it is not about leaving their home; a simple change such as moving furniture around is enough to cause anxiety in a cat. For this reason, if you hear your cat yowling, check to see whether there have been any new changes in its environment. If not, you can investigate other reasons as we have detailed them further below.

• Mating Call

Yowling could also be a mating call. Although mating calls are defined as long sequences of trills and meows, they are yowls. Female cats who want to attract male cats make the yowling sound, and unneutered male cats respond to the female in heat by making a similar sound. Therefore, if you hate the sound of yowling and have a female cat, the best thing to do is have it spayed. It is crucial to note that eve unneutered cats yowl but not in response to a mating call.

• Sickness

A sick cat is likely to keep you awake at night with incessant yowling, and cat owners are advised to be attentive enough not to confuse it with other causes of yowling. A cat that is not feeling well will roam the house seeking a comfortable place to rest as it vocalizes. You can check if the yowling is accompanied by other signs of illness, such as diarrhea, excessive thirst, or vomiting. If the yowling is also coupled with signs of discomfort such as limping, then a visit to the veterinarian will help you keep the yowling in check.

• Boredom

Loneliness and boredom are other reasons why your cat will make annoying sounds. If your cat lacks enough attention or enough toys to keep it preoccupied, it will get bored and start seeking your attention by vocalizing. Usually, such sounds begin at night when you go to bed. The cat is left wondering who to play with; thus, it will start making the sound, hoping you will respond by coming out to play. It might get tired if you do not respond, but that will be after a while. Some sources say that sometimes, all it takes is an extra round of playing to get your cat to calm down.

• Territorial Invasion

Cats are territorial animals, with male cats defending larger territories than females. The aggression can be directed towards other animals or humans who encroach on the cat’s space. If a cat is not pleased with anyone invading the territory, it will start yowling. Even other pets within the family can be the reason if they are invading the cat’s space. According to Paws, territorial problems arise when a cat is brought to a new home, a kitten reaches maturity or a cat encounters other cats outside. The territory a cat assumes as its own is dependent on where it spends most of its time; it can view the entire neighborhood as its territory and want other felines to keep off.

Why Old Cats Yowl Excessively

Tuxedo Cat published that many elderly cat owners complain that their felines yowl at night for no particular reason. However, if these cat lovers would pay attention, they would realize that cats have the same health issues humans deal with as they get older. Cats have to live with such illnesses and conditions in their old age. The main reason for senior cats yowling is pain and illness. Senior citizens suffer from diseases associated with old age; felines also get high blood pressure and hyperthyroidism. While such illnesses are treated with medicine, the pain associated with them before the diagnosis will cause the senior cat to keep you awake at night as it vocalizes its discomfort. Similar to how old people lose their senses, senior cats also have to adjust to losing their hearing and sight. Such changes cause anxiety, and of course, getting them to wear glasses and hearing aids can make them cranky. The felines, therefore, communicate their discomfort through yowling, which can be excessive at night because the darkness makes them anxious. Since they cannot see as well as they used to, cats become disoriented. You can imagine the stress they have to endure finding the litter box if you moved it from the place they were used to or rearranged the furniture. It is important to keep everything that an older cat uses in the same spot. Besides losing sensory abilities and illnesses, another cause of excessive yowling in senior cats is CDS (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome) or FCD (Feline Cognitive Dysfunction.) It is a cognitive disease that affects aging cats. As the brain ages, a cat loses its cognitive abilities. Therefore, the cat responds less to stimuli and loses memory. It affects 50% of cats aged 15 years and below, and 80% of cats aged 16 years and above. The disease causes it to forget where the litter box is, if it has been fed, and even changes the sleeping patterns. It is not a wonder to have your cat waking up in the middle of the night and not recognizing you; thus, it starts yowling at the stranger in the house invading its space.

• Keep It Fed

Since cats yowl when hungry, try feeding the cat a high-protein, low-carbohydrate meal before going to bed. You can also consult a vet regarding supplements that will ensure the cat remains full for a longer time. Since cats that feed regularly are at risk of being obese, you can invest in a feeding station set on a timer. This setup ensures that your pet sticks to a regular feeding schedule and that even if it yowls, it will only be fed when it’s time.

• Do Not Give It Unwarranted Attention

According to Raising Your Paws, cats can get into the vocalizing habit if they notice that it gets your attention. As the article informs us, even throwing a shoe to show your annoyance at the sound is enough to make your cat realize that it got your attention. Therefore, if you want your cat to stop interrupting your sleep with annoying vocalizations, do not pay attention to it. After all, if you have ruled out hunger and sickness, there is nothing else that should bother it at night. Territorial issues could only be during the day when other humans and pets are roaming the house and perhaps invading its space.

• Reduce Boredom

If your cat is not hungry or sick, maybe all it needs from you is a bit of playtime. However, as we have said, you should not give it attention until it has calmed down to avoid reinforcing the yowling habit. Once it keeps quiet, you can go ahead to play with the cat and praise it for a job well done in giving you the much-needed peaceful environment. Once you repeat this, the cat soon understands the pattern; it will only get the privilege of playtime if it stops yowling. If you are unavailable to play with the cat, you can hire a sitter to keep the cat preoccupied and provide lots of toys.

• Neutering and Spaying

The Los Angeles Times published in 1990 that neutering a male cat is not a guarantee that it will stop him from yowling. While this is true, as with all other ways to stop cat yowling, you have to ensure there are no other underlying issues besides responding to females in heat. As for females, you can have yours spayed to prevent her from going into heat. The measure ensures that besides her incessant yowling to attract males, males will not gather around your home in response.

Sometimes You Cannot Control the Yowling

No matter how much you have tried to stop your cat from yowling, sometimes there is nothing you can do other than accept that you have to live with it for the rest of your pet’s life. Such instances occur when you happen to adopt a Siamese cat. They are known to be the most vocal cat breed, and according to Animal Friends, they can talk all day long. Apart from the vocalization that sounds like a human baby cry, Siamese cats will likely disturb your sleep with the night yowling. The funny thing is they will vocalize even when nothing is troubling them, which can be bothersome for a cat lover who does not understand this cat breed. All the same, you should still be attentive to a Siamese cat that is “talking” more than usual because it could be in pain, stress, or discomfort.

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