What is Caterwauling and Why Do Cats Do It?

Cats can make some really precious noises, from adorable little meows, cute little chirping sounds, and of course, everyone’s favorite, the purrrfect purring sound. But one sound that is not particularly adorable is the sound they make that is known as a caterwaul. If you have ever heard a cat caterwaul, then you know it is a sound that is unlike any other they make. If you have ever wondered what cat caterwauling is, and why they do it, here is the answer to your question.

What is a caterwaul?

The sound is a meow-type sound, only it is much higher and more drawn out. It has a “yowl” sound to it and will make you stop to wonder what is wrong with your cat.

Why cats caterwaul

1. Out of Pain

Felines are typically known to keep their discomfort and pain to themselves. They aren’t always vocal about their pain and distress, so if you start to hear your cat caterwaul, then you know it may be time to take your cat to the vet for a check to be sure there isn’t something health-wise going on. Some medical reasons why your cat may start to caterwaul might include thyroid or kidney issues. These are medical conditions that would make your cat more vocal.

2. In heat

When a female cat goes into heat, she will have the urge to find a male cat and caterwauling is her way of letting males know she is ready, and wanting to mate. If your cat is outdoors, this can get even louder, since she can sense tom cats, and she is on the prowl to find them – or them to find her. At first, you may think she is in pain, but if you recognize the signs of her being in heat, you will realize she is caterwauling out of a need to mate. Time to get her spayed.

3. As an alert system

Cats love to watch the happenings outside. Indoor cats are notorious for laying by windows and watching the world around them. Like dogs, they can get a little territorial and they don’t want other cats, or maybe a dog or something else that doesn’t feel right, close to them. If you hear your cat start to caterwaul and happen to see that she is peering out the window, check to see what she is looking at, and if it is something you can remove from your cat’s line of vision to settle her down, it is best to take care of the situation to make her more comfortable again.

4. Feeling anxious or vulnerable

Cats are creatures of habit. When things feel unsettling or out of their comfort zone, they are apt to caterwaul. If you have recently moved, added new furniture, moved their litterbox or feeding bowls, or maybe there are strangers visiting they don’t feel comfortable with yet, your cat might caterwaul until they become comfortable with the changes. Figure out what the changes are that are making her feel nervous or uncomfortable and help her to adjust.

5. She wants your attention

Have you not been spending much time with your little feline lately? Some cats thrive on your attention and if they feel they are being ignored, or if they are needing something in particular and are trying to get your attention, they can caterwaul. Maybe she wants to be fed, or perhaps she’s feeling a little neglected. If your cat is caterwauling and trying to get your attention, do a little detective work and try to find out what it is she is wanting and remedy the situation.

6. Disorientation

As cats get older, they start to lose their ability to focus or adjust to situations as easily as they used to. Elderly cats get disoriented easily and when they do, they get nervous and will start to caterwaul out of disorientation. If you have an elderly cat that is caterwauling, try to understand they may be feeling scared and nervous because they aren’t as keen with their cognitive skills as they once were. Be patient with your elderly cat and try to comfort her when you can. Spend time with her, take her to her food and water dishes, even the litterbox. Let her know you are there for her.

Cat caterwauling is a part of a cat’s behavior, but it is done for a reason, so it is always best to try to understand your cat and what she might be telling you with her caterwauling. Don’t always assume it is just her way of being vocal, but try to understand why she is being vocal enough to caterwaul and take care of the situation for her, as much as you are able to.

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