Howling Cat - Photo by SingChan
Here are a list of reasons for a howling cat and the various sources of that information. My cats have never yowled at night but my girl cat has on occasions meowed rather plaintiff at night and woken me up as a consequence. The typical question might read:
My cat has recently started howling at night. He will do it over and over. It wakes me up and I get up to find out what is going on and then I give him a cuddle before going back to bed. Why do I have a howling cat at night?
The answers might be as follows. Some overlap because they are simply answers found on the internet or in one of my books:
- It might be a health problem. For example feline hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure. Cat health needs to be checked out before going on to behavioral matters. On the basis that health checks out, it might be an older cat becoming confused or disorientated, a younger cat feeling insecure for a number of reasons (e.g. house move). The cure is to ignore it (not reward it) and it will eventually stop1.
- Your feline is after attention...lock her in a downstairs room (or one that is a decent distance away)2. Or put in earplugs and ignore it. She or he will learn that it does not work and stop.
- It is related to age and a loss of hearing and sometimes the other senses too. This leads to a cat's voice sounding different and the howling is the cat testing the voice. The loss of sensory skills causes confusion in the dark. Leaving a low level light on and soft low volume sound can help3.
- It is because a cat is programmed to go out and hunt at night and if the cat is an indoor cat it might get bored so they try and get the human companion up to provide some interaction4.
- Hyperthyroidism causes anxiety which in turn causes howling at night when you are asleep and not around to provide a distraction and/or interaction5. It is treatable.
- It might be because the cat is lonely at night
- A sexed male cat might yowl at night as a territorial marker establishing his "home range"6.
There is no one answer. My feeling is that it is more likely to be either (a) a thyroid problem or (b) calling for companionship, yes it could be as simple as that on a common sense basis. If it is the former it is fixable. As for the latter I don't believe in harsh training (i.e. ignoring the cat) as a way of resolving it. More attention at other times might resolve it. I would tend to do as the cat requests as a solution. That is certainly a more loving response in line with the relationship, one of companionship.
From Howling Cat to Cat Facts
- sources on howling cat
1 Why Does My Cat Do That? by Catherine Davidson
3 this reference is a link and it is broken.