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What Is Caterwauling? Why Do Cats Caterwaul?

cat caterwauling
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Cats make a lot of weird noises. They purr, chirp, and occasionally, they make a weird sound that seemingly defies description. It’s a mix between a yowl and a whine, but cat-like. It’s a drawn-out moan that sounds melodramatic. This is called caterwauling.

Why do cats caterwaul? Well, there are many reasons why your cat may emit this strange and sometimes terrifying noise.

Here are some of the most common issues that may cause your cat to caterwaul.

They Are In Pain

Most of the sounds domestic cats make are a means of communication to their humans, and caterwauling is no exception. If your cat is making caterwauling noises out of nowhere, chances are they could be in pain.

It can be difficult to tell exactly when your cat is in pain, but if they’re caterwauling after physical trauma or illness, it could be a sign it’s time to visit the vet.

Cats may also caterwaul for other painful issues, like thyroid problems or kidney disease. Both of these are serious issues and require a vet’s attention.

They Want Your Attention

cat caterwauling
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If your cat feels like they aren’t getting all the attention they deserve, they’ll make sure you know it. Caterwauling is sometimes interpreted as melodramatic because it sometimes is melodramatic — your kitty is being ignored, and they’re tired of it!

If you think your cat is caterwauling as a way to illicit pets, treats, or another form of attention, don’t reward them by giving them what they want while they yowl at you. Unless you’re comfortable with your cat caterwauling any time they want something, do not reinforce the behavior.

Instead, set up regular play times and one-on-one attention for your cat so they don’t feel the need to caterwaul in the first place.

They Are Ready To Breed

If your cat is in heat, they’ll let potential mates know by letting out a literal mating call: a caterwaul.

Unless you’re a cat breeder, chances are you’re not looking to breed your cat. The best way to curb this type of caterwauling — along with the cat overpopulation problem — is to spay or neuter your feline.

They’re Acting Territorial

Low Section Of Person Standing With Cat
(Picture Credit: Akif Patel / EyeEm/Getty Images)

Cats can be incredibly territorial, and if they see something they don’t like on their turf, they are going to make it known.

Cats sometimes caterwaul if they see another cat from the window, birds that they cannot reach, or any other type of intruder they deem unwanted.

They’re Stressed Out

If your cat is feeling particularly vulnerable or suffers from separation anxiety, they may start to caterwaul.

There are several causes of separation anxiety, and knowing how to calm your cat can help alleviate yowling and crying.

If you introduce another pet, have guests over, or just moved recently, your cat may let you know their anxiety is on the rise by caterwauling.

They Are Disoriented

Cat looking up
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As cats age, their mental facilities may get a little rusty. Cognitive dysfunction in cats – especially senior cats – is fairly common and can be a stressful experience for your cat.

If you have an older cat and they start caterwauling, consult your vet and see if they’re showing signs of dementia or any other form of cognitive dysfunction.

Does your cat caterwaul? Do you try to find out why your cat is crying and help them? Let us know in the comments below!

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