Just as you drift off to dreamland, a small lion starts yowling in your living room… not really, but if you’ve had your sleep interrupted by a cat’s nocturnal caterwauling, you may have thought it would sound about the same! The word “caterwauling” according the Webster dictionary is “to make a harsh cry; to protest or complain noisily” and we’re sure it got the “cat” part of its name from the cries that neighborhood cats make as they prowl around at night. So why is your indoor cat singing the street blues? Read on to find out many of the possible whys, and some possible solutions so you both can sleep the whole night through!
Remember, new behavior takes about two weeks to get established, so don’t give up too soon.
Truth: Change can stress cats. If you recently moved or adopted a new cat, they may be meowing because they are stressed. They may be calling out to try to locate their past home, or cat friends. Giving your cat time to adjust to the new home may be all it takes, but you can speed that along and help your cat be less stressed by:
- Get your cat on a solid steady routine, cats find routine reassuring.
- Use calming pheremone plugins (i.e. ComfortZone or Feliway) in every room.
- Give your cat plenty of hiding places, either up high if they like being up high, or under things like under your bed if they are happier there.
Truth: Cats are nocturnal. However, they are also creatures of habit. If your cat is in the habit of sleeping all day, and having a party (on your head) all night, you can take steps to reset their internal clock. Tip: Play play play all day with your cat! If you work all day, make time in the morning before you leave from work, and especially when you come home at night, to play until your cat is worn out tired. Bonus tip: If you have a cat that is just not that interested in toys, you can get them interested in food games. Don’t free feed, and divide their meal up into ten portions, and make them follow you walking around before you put it down for them to eat it.
Truth: Cats like attention. If you are paying any attention to your cat because they are waking you up at night, that’s rewarding their nighttime yowling. Even yelling at your cat is giving them attention! Tip: it can be tough, but get some ear plugs and ignore that night time yowling while you use the other tips on this page to break them of their night time vocalization habit.
Truth: Cats usually get sleepy after they eat, just like humans when they eat a big meal. Tip: feed your cat his main big meal later at night, right before your bed time, after your big play session. This of course only works if you are not free-feeding!
Truth: Cats can be territorial. If your neighborhood cats are prowling around outside your window, your cat may be defending his territory, or having a conversation with that sexy kitty from the next block. Tip: Training you cat to walk on a harness and leash outside around your house before bedtime can let them mark their territory outside, and relieve that urge to do so vocally inside. Motion detector sprinklers or lights can also sometimes help keep outside cats farther away from your home.
Truth: Cats are athletic and smart. If your cat is singing at night, it may be a sign that she is bored and has pent up energy. Cats need daily mental and physical exercise. How much depends on their age and physical fitness. Try our tips for exercising your cat here.
We hope these caterwauling prevention tips help you and your cat.