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 is a mix between a yowl and a whine, but cat-like. It is a drawn-out moan that sounds melodramatic. This is called caterwauling.

Why do cats caterwaul? 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 are 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 is feeling like they aren’t getting all the attention they deserve, they will 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 are 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 will let potential mates know by letting out a literal mating call: a caterwaul.

Unless you are a cat breeder, chances are you are 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

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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 just moved, introduce another pet, or have guests over, 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 are showing signs of dementia or any other form of cognitive dysfunction.

Does your cat caterwaul? Did you confirm the source of your cat’s crying and find a way to remedy it? Let us know in the comments below!