Sleepless in Seattle. How to Deal with a Yowling Cat at Night

Understand Why Your Cat is Yowling

Cats yowl for various reasons like hunger, pain, boredom, seeking attention, or responding to noises outside. It’s important to understand the underlying cause of your cat’s nighttime vocalizations before attempting to stop the behavior. Sometimes yowling is due to natural instincts or can signal medical issues requiring veterinary attention.

According to veterinarians, the most common reasons for nighttime yowling in cats include:

  • Hunger – Cats may yowl when they want food, especially if they are used to being fed at night. Make sure your cat has access to food before bedtime.
  • Boredom – Indoor cats with excess energy may yowl from boredom and need more playtime and stimulation during the day. Provide interactive toys and activities.
  • Attention-seeking – Some cats learn that yowling gets them affection or play from their owner. Ignore the yowling to discourage this behavior.
  • Responding to noises – Cats may yowl in response to sounds outside like other cats, wildlife, or traffic. Limit external noises if possible.
  • Estrus/mating – Unspayed female cats in heat will yowl loudly while seeking a mate. Spaying your cat can reduce this behavior.
  • Cognitive issues – Elderly cats with dementia may become vocal at night. Consult your vet about medication or supplements.
  • Medical reasons – Diseases like hyperthyroidism or kidney failure can cause vocalization from discomfort. Schedule a vet visit.

By understanding why your individual cat is yowling at night, you can better address the root cause of the behavior ([url=””]source[/url]). Observe if there are any patterns or triggers to your cat’s nighttime yowling.

Check for Underlying Medical Issues

One of the most common causes of excessive nighttime yowling in cats is an underlying medical condition. According to VCA Animal Hospitals (, diseases like hyperthyroidism, cognitive dysfunction, arthritis and more can cause cats to yowl due to feelings of hunger, thirst, restlessness or pain. WebMD ( also states numerous diseases can prompt excessive vocalization. Before trying other solutions, it’s important to have your vet examine your cat to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing the nighttime yowling.

Ensure Your Cat is Spayed/Neutered

One of the main reasons cats yowl at night is because intact cats vocalize and search for mates. The urge to find a mate and reproduce is a strong natural drive in cats that are not spayed or neutered. Intact male cats in particular are prone to yowling and wandering as they seek female cats in heat.

By spaying or neutering your cat, you greatly reduce hormonal urges and behaviors like yowling, roaming, spraying, and fighting. According to the ASPCA, over 90% of neutered male cats will stop urine spraying and decreasing unwanted behaviors like night yowling.

If your cat is not yet fixed, schedule an appointment with your vet to get them spayed or neutered. This simple surgery eliminates the hormonal drives that lead to night yowling in the pursuit of mates.

According to veterinary experts, cats can take weeks or months after surgery for hormones to fully dissipate. So persistent yowling may continue in recently fixed cats as hormones stabilize (Source). But in most cases, neutering or spaying does dramatically reduce or eliminate late night vocalizing in the long run.

Provide Food and Water at Night

One reason your cat may be yowling at night is because they are hungry. Cats naturally hunt for food at dawn and dusk, so they may get hungry during the night. Make sure your cat always has access to food and water overnight so they don’t feel the need to wake you for a meal.

Place food and water bowls in an easy to access area. Cats can see well in low light, but make sure the area is not pitch black. You may want to leave a nightlight on near their food so they can easily find it. Dry food that they can graze on freely often works best for overnight. You can also try leaving out a meal right before bed to satisfy their hunger.

If your cat has a set feeding schedule, you may want to offer a small meal later at night. An automatic feeder can dispense food on a set timer so your cat associates that time with dinner. Just be sure the automatic feeder gives the right portion size.

By ensuring your cat has food available overnight, their hunger cues should no longer prompt loud yowling. You’ll be able to sleep peacefully knowing your cat’s needs are met.

Give Your Cat Attention During the Day

Cats yowl for attention. Spend quality interactive time with your cat during the day by engaging in playtime and cuddle sessions. Make sure your cat is getting enough positive human interaction and mental stimulation. Interactive play with toys that encourage chasing, pouncing, and stalking behaviors can help satisfy your cat’s natural hunting instincts. Set aside at least 15-30 minutes per day for quality one-on-one playtime with your cat. This will help tire out your cat so they are less likely to act out with attention-seeking behaviors at night. Make sure to give your cat affection like petting, brushing, and lap snuggles as well. Giving your cat adequate attention and activity during the day can help curb nighttime yowling.

According to the ASPCA, “The best way to reduce nighttime vocalizations is to make sure your cat is active during the day” (Source). Keeping your cat occupied and fulfilled during daylight hours can make a big difference in limiting excessive meowing at night.

Use Pheromones and Supplements

Pheromones and supplements can reduce stress and anxiety causing yowling. Pheromones are chemicals cats produce that can help calm them down. Artificial pheromones like Feliway mimic natural cat pheromones and signal safety and contentment. Plug-in diffusers, sprays, or collars steadily release calming pheromones into the environment ( Supplements containing ingredients like l-theanine, chamomile, and tryptophan can also reduce stress through their relaxing properties.

According to studies, Feliway pheromone products can significantly decrease stress behaviors like urine spraying and aggression in up to 90% of cats. The Feliway Multicat Diffuser covers up to 700 square feet and is designed to reduce stress between cats in multi-cat households. Using pheromone collars and diffusers throughout the home can help reassure cats and curb midnight vocalizations (

Natural calming supplements can also help anxious cats feel more relaxed and sleep better. L-theanine, chamomile, and tryptophan supplements have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and aggression in cats. Consult your vet before giving any new supplements. Start with a low dose and monitor your cat’s behavior to see if the product helps reduce yowling episodes.

Keep Your Cat Active

Bored cats tend to yowl more often, especially at night when they have pent up energy. Make sure your cat has sufficient active playtime and interactive toys available to stay stimulated and release all that energy. Institute at least two dedicated 15-20 minute play sessions per day using toys that make your cat run, chase, pounce, and leap. Good options are feather wands, laser pointers, treat balls, and toys that can be set to move automatically with batteries or USB power (source). Rotate the toys to prevent boredom and have a variety on hand so you can switch it up if your cat loses interest. Leave out puzzles, tunnels, scratchers, and solo toys so your cat has self-play options. Make playtime fun for both you and your cat to form a stronger bond. A tired cat from active play is less likely to yowl out of boredom and excess energy.

Ignore the Yowling

Though it may be difficult, one recommendation is to ignore your cat’s yowling at night. Responding to the yowling can reinforce the behavior and cause your cat to meow more often for attention. As the ASPCA notes, “Do not ignore your cat when she meows. The one exception is if you know for certain that she’s meowing to get you to do something she wants. In every other case, give her some attention when she asks for it” [1].

If your cat is not yowling due to an underlying medical issue and is fixed, then she may be meowing for attention. By going to comfort her when she yowls, you are rewarding the behavior. It’s best to ignore the noises at night and give your cat plenty of playtime and affection during the day to curb the nighttime yowling.

Use Distractions

One way to reduce nighttime yowling is to distract your cat when the behavior starts. Offering treats, initiating playtime, or providing access to catnip can shift their focus away from vocalizing. According to Purina, cats often meow at night when they are bored or want attention. Distracting them with something enjoyable can curb the yowling. Have treats or a favorite toy ready to present your cat when they start up. Breaking their concentration on crying can teach them that meowing doesn’t achieve their goal. You can also try scattering catnip or placing catnip-filled toys around before bed to keep your cat occupied. Just be sure to remove the catnip before you go to sleep yourself. The key is to offer something enticing that fully engages your cat’s senses when they start yowling at night.

Consult Your Vet

If your cat’s yowling at night persists over several nights or weeks despite your best efforts to address the behavior at home, it’s important to consult your veterinarian. Nighttime yowling in cats can sometimes indicate an underlying medical issue that requires veterinary attention.

Some medical conditions that may lead to increased vocalization in cats include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney disease
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • Arthritis or other painful conditions
  • Dental disease
  • Deafness

Your veterinarian can perform a full physical exam and run appropriate diagnostic tests like bloodwork, urinalysis, x-rays, or an ultrasound to check for any abnormalities. They can also assess your cat’s vision and hearing.

Based on the exam findings, your vet can determine if there is an underlying medical reason for the nighttime yowling and recommend appropriate treatment options. With the right diagnosis and care, your furry friend’s disruptive vocalizations at night may be significantly reduced or resolved.

It’s important not to simply ignore persistent nighttime yowling in cats. What may seem like normal feline behavior could be your cat’s way of trying to tell you they are unwell and need medical help. Schedule an appointment with your vet if your cat’s loud meowing, howling or crying at night persists. (

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