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Why does a cat howl?

brown and white cat howling under a table advice
© Shutterstock

What is it that makes a cat howl? Of course, this excessive noise can be a completely normal habit for a cat. However, on the other hand, it can mean there is an underlying health condition

By Dawn Parrish

As any cat owner already knows, cats can make various noises. First of all, if this excessive meowing really annoys you, you will need to discover the cause. Once you can understand the reason why your cat howls then you can do something to stop it.

Why does my cat howl?

A cat will meow for many reasons. It could be a call to let you know she is hungry. Your pet could want your attention, or be excited, scared or even stressed. However, when the sound of the meow increases to more of a howl, your cat isn’t happy about something.

Stress and boredom

cat howling
If your cat howls she could be stressed or anxious ©Pixabay

In most cases, a cat will howl as a reaction to being stressed or bored. She may realise that something has changed in the household; perhaps you’ve moved home. A new baby in the house can make a cat stressed. For this reason, the cat may begin to howl as she expresses her irritation. Likewise, if your cat feels bored she might be noisy as she howls. This is probably to get your direct attention.  You can decrease this whining by spending quality time with your cat on a daily basis. Even more important is that you play with her and pet her frequently.

Seeking attention

A meow from your cat could mean that she is trying to get your attention. Perhaps she is hungry or is searching for your interaction. In contrast, if she doesn’t manage to get a response she will probably yell and howl. Cats are nocturnal, meaning they are more active at night, so this is when they tend to be seeking for attention. So, if you wish to have a good night sleep and stop your cat from meowing at night, lay out all of your feline toys. We hope you'll be able sleep through the night. 

Howling noises when it’s mating time

First of all, a female cat will howl when she comes onto heat. This yelling call will probably happen quite frequently until she is spayed. Similarly, a male cat will howl, not only when he notices or encounters a female on heat, but also while mating with her. A neutered male cat will certainly not howl as much as one that hasn’t been done. As a result of this neutering, you are certain of no unwanted baby kittens.

Injury and illness

While playing with your pet, she might howl in protest if you hold her too tightly. Listen to your feline friend as a more persistent howl is an indication that something isn’t right. She is maybe in pain or is uncomfortable. It’s important to ask for professional medical advice if your cat, who is usually quiet, begins to howl loudly. There may be a health condition such as thyroid or kidney disease or she could be injured.

Senior cats who howl

It’s a rather worrying symptom if an older cat suddenly begins to howl and cry. As cognitive brain function declines she might just meow because she is anxious or confused. Cats do suffer from dementia which is why it is usually cats older than 15 years of age that are howlers. In some cases, a cat howling, especially at night will just stare into the distance. Although there are no cures for cat dementia and old age symptoms, sometimes changes in the cat’s environment, dietary supplements or medicines can help with the crying.

cat howling
Oriental cats are often howlers ©Pixabay

If you have a cat at home that yowls, you will know that sometimes it’s without a reason. It is likely that your pet will have a differing range of vocal sounds that she makes on different occasions. Certainly, these sounds have different meanings. By understanding what each meow or howl means, will help you to understand your cat much better. As a result of this knowledge, you will realise that a cat howl means that something isn’t good in your feline’s world.

It’s also a good tip to know that not all breeds vocalise and yowl. Some cats can be rather quiet yet other breeds never shut up. Oriental-type breeds such as Siamese cats are extremely vocal, appearing to howl as if speaking to you. Learn to understand your cat’s screeching, hissing, howling, groaning or meowing, in fact, anyway that your cat attempts to make herself known!