Hearing your cat, or a neighbor’s cat, yowling at night can be a frightening experience. It is such a screeching noise that it makes my blood curl. It sounds as though someone is being murdered, painfully. And why is it during the night, when you expect your cat to be asleep on the foot of your bed or in its own bed.
Cats yowl for a number of reasons. Understanding these reasons can help you work out how to stop this infernal noise before your neighbor carries out his threat to ‘do something about it’.
The most popular reason cats howl is because they are searching for a mate. And most tom-cats are not fussy, or even faithful. Any female cat that is on heat and not too far away is the one he wants. And he might not be satisfied with just one female. Toms can and will do almost anything to get to a cat in heat, including ripping your screen door to shreds.
But don’t think that your female cat is the passive partner waiting for the roaming toms. A cat in heat will surprise you in the way she will carry on and the distance she will travel to find a partner, or partners, to mate with. And you can expect your female cat to yowl as well, especially if she senses a tom-cat nearby.
The male cat has barbs on his penis which are believed to cause the female to ovulate. As the male withdraws, the female will howl.
Cats will also yowl if they are defending their territory. If a strange cat wanders in, especially if there are females around, a tom-cat will try to scare it away by making loud screeching noises. If this doesn’t work, a cat fight may occur which will create an even louder ruckus. Cats will fight and try to injure any strange cat in the neighborhood and the yowling and screaming is enough to wake the dead.
Another reason for howling that must be investigated is if the cat is in pain. If you notice blood or the cat in obvious discomfort, call the vet. Be very careful in picking up the cat as you are in danger of being bitten or having deep scratches inflicted. I suggest sitting on the floor with a towel on your knee and talking gently to the cat, allowing it to come to you. If you have a strong bond with your cat, it will trust you to look after it. Keep it wrapped in the towel while putting it in the cat carrier.
If your cat yowls at night because it is looking for a mate, have it neutered or spayed. This will stop the urge to roam. If it is a neighborhood cat that is making all the noise, try turning the hose or sprinklers on it or rattling a tin full of marbles. If you can get close enough that is. I would also suggest if your cat hasn’t been altered, you make sure the doors and windows are shut so it can’t get outside.
Why do cats yowl at night? I don’t know of any scientific reason. Perhaps it is because it is quieter, not as many people and traffic around. Maybe the cats feel safer in the dark. Perhaps the cats, like some teenagers, like escaping and getting back in without anyone knowing. I do know that I am very glad that I live in a rural setting and am not kept awake by the neighborhood cats having a loud party next door.