Why Is My Cat So Loud? Exploring the Reasons for Your Cat’s Yowling

What is That Nighttime Yowling All About?

It’s 3AM and you are suddenly jolted awake by a loud, drawn-out yooowwwwlll coming from somewhere in your home. You look around bleary-eyed trying to determine the source of that insistent, grating sound that pierced the quiet night. As you become more alert, you realize it’s your cat making that ear-splitting yowl. You glance over at your cat sitting in the window, mouth wide open, emitting a loud, long meowing cry into the darkness. What is your cat trying to say with that late night yowling? Let’s explore the reasons behind this common feline behavior.

Explaining the Yowl

A cat’s yowl is a long, drawn-out meowing sound that is often described as sounding like a cry or wail. It is louder, more urgent, and more prolonged than a regular meow. Yowling most often occurs when a female cat is in heat and looking to mate, but both male and female cats may yowl for other reasons as well.

Yowling differs from normal meowing in a few key ways:

  • It is much louder and more piercing.
  • It is more persistent, often repeating every few seconds.
  • The tone tends to waver up and down, whereas meows have a more consistent pitch.
  • Yowls express urgency, discomfort or distress rather than a simple greeting or request for food.

Other cat vocalizations like hissing, growling or purring have a very different sound quality and meaning from the yowl. The drawn-out cry of the yowl is unique in communicating intense emotions in cats.

Reasons for Yowling

There are several common reasons why cats yowl and vocalize in an intense, loud manner:

One reason is to get their owner’s attention, especially around feeding time. Cats may yowl persistently to let you know it’s time for breakfast or dinner. It’s a very effective way for them to communicate their needs.

Another reason for yowling is as a mating call. Unspayed female cats in heat will yowl loudly to attract potential mates. Male cats may also yowl in response to let female cats know of their availability and interest. The yowling helps facilitate the mating process between cats.

Cats may also yowl when they see or smell other outdoor cats near their territory. It can be a territorial signal to ward off intruders. The yowling serves to communicate boundaries and areas of dominance between cats.

Yowling and Health Issues

Yowling can sometimes indicate serious medical problems in cats. Two of the top health conditions that may lead to increased vocalization are cognitive dysfunction syndrome and kidney disease, according to a veterinarian-reviewed article at WebMD (https://www.webmd.com/pets/cats/cats-excessive-meowing).

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is similar to dementia or Alzheimer’s in humans. It causes memory loss, confusion, anxiety, and personality changes in cats. The resulting disorientation and anxiety from CDS can cause increased meowing and yowling.

Kidney disease is another common feline health issue that may lead to vocalization. Cats with kidney disease often feel thirsty, but struggle to drink enough water. They may yowl due to their discomfort and dehydration. Hyperthyroidism is another condition that can increase thirst and vocalization.

In addition to CDS and kidney disease, any illness or condition that causes pain, discomfort, or disorientation can result in more frequent yowling. Since excessive vocalization is often the first sign of sickness in cats, it’s important to have a veterinarian examine any cat that suddenly starts yowling more (https://palosanimalhospital.net/cat-yowling/). With prompt treatment, some of these underlying health issues can be managed to reduce discomfort and unnecessary yowling.

Yowling and Behavior

Yowling can often arise from a cat’s innate behaviors or emotional states like boredom, anxiety and distress. An unstimulated or under-stimulated cat may yowl from boredom (Why Do Cats Yowl…2020). Cats are natural hunters and require activities and stimulation to mimic hunting behaviors. Without enough entertainment and activity in their environment, they can become bored and yowl to express their frustration or discontent.

Stress, anxiety or distress can also trigger yowling. Changes in routine, a new environment, conflicts with other pets and lack of quality time with owners can all upset a cat and lead to anxious yowling (Cat Behavior Consultant). Yowling is their way of communicating their unsettled emotional state and trying to deal with stressful circumstances. Therefore, identifying and addressing sources of stress, anxiety and distress in a cat’s life is key to curbing behavioral yowling.

How to Reduce Yowling

There are some steps cat owners can take to help reduce a cat’s yowling behavior. The main strategies involve providing more enrichment, using pheromones, and responding properly when yowls occur.

Increasing playtime and exercise is important for reducing stress and excess energy that can lead to yowling. Try to have dedicated play sessions with interactive toys each day. Things like wands, balls, and treat puzzle feeders can help occupy your cat. Getting a second cat can also provide a playmate. Just be sure to properly introduce them.

Using synthetic pheromone diffusers like Feliway can help calm cats and curb yowling urges. Pheromones mimic natural chemicals that provide comfort. Plug in diffusers around the home, especially near your cat’s favorite spots.

It’s also essential not to reward yowling behavior. Ignore attention-seeking meows, or you may inadvertently reinforce it. Redirect your cat’s energy into a positive outlet like play. But never scold or punish cats for vocalizing, as this causes more stress.

With patience and consistency, these methods can reduce excessive vocalizations. However, if yowling persists or seems excessive, consult your veterinarian to address potential underlying issues.

When to See the Vet

Excessive or chronic yowling can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical issue, so it’s important to be aware of any other symptoms accompanying the vocalizations. According to the ASPCA, urgent veterinary care should be sought if the yowling is accompanied by symptoms like:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive drinking or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Noticeable weight loss

Likewise, a sudden increase in yowling behavior in a cat that was previously quiet, especially in senior cats, warrants a trip to the vet to identify any potential illness causing discomfort. As this source explains, abnormal vocalizations can signal that something serious is wrong and shouldn’t be ignored.

While young cats may yowl more frequently due to hormones, mature cats often start yowling persistently as a sign of cognitive decline, anxiety, or pain. So if your older cat suddenly starts yowling often, a medical exam can help determine if there are any treatable conditions causing this behavior change.

Solutions for Senior Cats

As cats age, their needs change and they may develop health issues that lead to increased vocalization like yowling. It’s important to schedule more frequent vet visits for senior cats to monitor their health and make sure any conditions are diagnosed early and properly treated. Medications may help alleviate pain, anxiety, cognitive decline or other issues affecting your cat’s behavior.

Comfort care is also important for senior cats. Providing soft beds, keeping food and litter easily accessible, using ramps and limiting stairs, and giving massages can help reduce stress on aging joints and muscles. Pheromone diffusers like Feliway can also help relax anxious senior cats. Maintaining calming routines and spending extra quality time together meets your cat’s needs for companionship and affection.

While senior cat issues like yowling can be challenging, focusing on your cat’s health, comfort and happiness can help improve their quality of life. Talk to your vet about solutions tailored to your cat’s individual needs. With a little patience and care, senior cats can continue to thrive despite the aging process.

Preventing Future Yowling

One of the best ways to prevent a cat from developing yowling behavior in the future is through early training. Kittens should be taught not to vocalize excessively or for improper reasons from an early age. Provide positive reinforcement like treats when they are quiet and ignore or redirect them when they yowl for attention.

Additionally, be sure to provide your cat with proper mental and physical enrichment to decrease boredom and frustration, which can prompt yowling. Interactive toys, scratching posts, cat trees, food puzzles, and daily playtime are some great ways to entertain your cat. Adequate exercise can tire them out, making them less likely to yowl from boredom or pent-up energy. Shelves, catios, and windows with views can also provide environmental enrichment.

While some cats may still yowl at times even with proper training and enrichment, starting young and setting good habits can go a long way towards preventing excessive vocalization as your cat ages.


In summary, cats yowl for a variety of reasons including seeking attention, expressing distress, feeling territorial, experiencing medical problems, or due to cognitive issues like dementia in senior cats. While some yowling is normal cat communication, frequent or excessive yowling can indicate an underlying issue.

It’s important to identify what is triggering the behavior and address it through environmental changes, scheduling daily interaction time, or trying calming products. However, if the yowling persists or seems abnormal, consult your veterinarian to check for potential health issues. Senior cats in particular may suffer from medical conditions or cognitive decline that cause disorientation and vocalization.

With patience, lifestyle adjustments, vet care if needed, and safely ignoring unwanted attention-seeking yowls, it is possible to create a peaceful home environment and reduce stressful yowling long-term. However, some vocalization is natural for cats, so the goal should be limiting excessive yowling, not eliminating a cat’s voice entirely.

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