why do cats cry like a baby at night?
Cat Health and Wellness

Why is My Elderly Cat Yowling at Night: What Excessive Vocalization Means!

As cats grow older, they can begin displaying odd behaviors. For example, senior cats often start yowling at night for no apparent reason. The constant crying, meowing, and howling can become rather disturbing. That’s especially true if you don’t understand why your cat is behaving that way.

Yowling is a long cry of distress, pain, or grief. Cats make this sound when they are upset, such as from hunger, separation anxiety, or having their territory invaded. When cats are older, it’s usually because of health issues that cause pain. Your cat may have hyperthyroidism, sensory decline, or cognitive dysfunction. In particular, cats with dementia are very likely to yowl during all hours of the night.

Of course, addressing the symptoms of these diseases can calm down your cat. The conditions are often treatable, but there is no cure for feline dementia. If left untreated, your cat will continue giving you sleepless nights.

What Is Caterwauling In Cats?

Caterwauling is a persistent, melodramatic, melodic, and disturbing sound produced by cats when they are in distress. Many owners describe it as a cross between a howl, a yowl, and a whine.

Cats caterwaul as a way of communicating their needs and expressing their emotions. After all, they cannot talk like humans. Your cat may caterwaul if it’s feeling insecure, bored, or is simply seeking your attention. Your cat may also caterwaul if it’s in pain or experiencing systemic medical problems.

Given that cats are territorial animals, caterwauling is a way of protecting their space. They may produce the sound to scare away intruders. Caterwauling is most common in male cats, especially if they notice a female is in heat.

Why Is My Old Cat Crying At Night?

It is common for old cats to cry at night. Of course, this won’t mean shedding tears but rather calling out and whining at all hours of your bedtime.

While young cats are more likely to call for attention, older ones are likely to cry because of medical issues. Cats experience various conditions associated with aging.

These conditions affect the brain and normally manifest themselves in ways such as yowling and howling persistently. For example, according to the University of Edinburgh, elderly cats can develop a feline form of Alzheimer’s disease. This will cause them to start yowling at night in distress.

It is also possible that your old cat is sick with arthritis or dental disease. It’s probably crying as a result of the pain associated with these conditions. In a worst-case scenario, an old cat crying at night means it’s perhaps time to say goodbye to your aging pet. A dying cat will develop strange behaviors. These include persistently crying at night and becoming restless during its twilight days.

old cat meowing non stop

Reasons For Your Old Cat Howling At Night

It might seem your old cat is howling for no reason. If this happens at night, it will be even more persistent and noticeable since you can’t get to sleep. Keep in mind that there is always a triggering factor. While dementia and arthritis are the most common, other conditions include:


Hyperthyroidism is a serious condition that affects the thyroid glands, causing them to produce excess thyroxine hormone. The condition is common among aging cats. According to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, hyperthyroidism is the most common feline endocrine disorder. About 10% of senior cats are likely to develop it.

An elderly cat with hyperthyroidism is likely to howl throughout the night due to these symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Irregular heartbeat


An old cat with hyperthyroidism is more likely to develop hypertension. With that said, a cat may become hypertensive because of another disease, too. Whatever the cause, cats with high blood pressure tend to scream and howl all the time. You should therefore ask your veterinarian to check the blood pressure of your cat during the diagnosis stage.

Sensory Decline

Your cat will inevitably lose some of its senses as it grows older. Elderly cats tend to lose their vision, sense of smell, and even hearing. They can begin howling and vocalizing persistently due to the confusion that sets in. Howling is a sign of distress as a result of the decline in sensory functions and abilities.

Persistent Pain

Elderly cats often experience joint pain and sore muscles. Some old cats even develop arthritis and other conditions associated with the bones. Now, these conditions can be painful. If left untreated, your cat will begin to howl relentlessly throughout the day and night.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

As sensory abilities decline, your elderly house cat is also likely to develop cognitive dysfunction syndrome. In particular, some cats develop a feline form of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and their cognitive function begins to degenerate as they age.

Your senior cat may start displaying repetitive behaviors like pacing the floor or even forgetting to eat after approaching their bowl. This will culminate with the cat howling endlessly at night.

Central Nervous System Disease

Your cat may develop neurological disorders, as well as brain and spinal cord tumors as it continues to age. Primary signs of central nervous system disorders in cats include:

  • Seizures
  • Lack of coordination
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Chronic pain

Behavioral changes such as howling, yowling, and crying at night are also common in cats with neurological and nervous system disorders.

Why Is My Old Cat Meowing Non-Stop?

Your old cat could be meowing non-stop because of several benign reasons. These include:

  • Hunger
  • Thirst
  • Discomfort
  • Injury
  • Pain

However, the main reason why elderly cats tend to meow non-stop is because of health problems. The most common will include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypertension
  • Dementia

As your cat grows older, it becomes more susceptible to diseases. The excess hormones released by the thyroid glands, or the confusion brought on by dementia, can make your cat uncomfortable. That results in persistent vocalizations.

Why Is My Elderly Cat Yowling After Eating?

If your elderly cat is yowling a few moments after eating, then it might be unwell.  Some conditions such as hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and uremic gastritis can cause:

  • Cramps
  • Indigestion
  • Irritability

Your cat will react to these symptoms by yowling.

Why Is My Old Cat Crying At Water Bowl?

Your old cat might be crying at the water bowl for two reasons. Your senior cat might be sick with hyperthyroidism, a disease symptomized with frequent thirst and hunger. Your cat may even start sleeping near the water bowl due to the increased thirst.

The other reason why your cat is yowling at the water bowl is due to sensitivity. If you place the water bowl on top of a synthetic fiber carpet, it will create a static zap. Your cat might start yowling in discomfort as it discharges the static.

Why Is My Cat Displaying Odd Behavior?

Aside from yowling, your cat may seem to be acting strange overall. Whether it’s pacing back and forth, making sounds all night, or demanding all your attention constantly, it’s worth noting. Here are the reasons, and what you can do about them:

Health Problems

Your cat can display odd behaviors like howling or yowling because of underlying health problems. As mentioned, this can include:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Anemia
  • Dental diseases

Your cat may also start to chew on odd objects such as socks, rubber bands, or plastic bags. If this is the case, it’s probably lacking in essential minerals and vitamins.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes in your cat may also cause your cat to behave strangely and start screaming. It is common for female cats to caterwaul and howl when they are in heat and seeking a mate. These strange noises alert the male cats around to respond accordingly to the mating call.


Cats may seem aloof, but they get very attached to their owners. Yours may suffer from separation anxiety when you live home for work or school.

Your cat could also become anxious or apprehensive of the activities outside the house. For example, yours might start howling or caterwauling to send a warning if it sees a neighbor’s cat approaching the house (its territory).


Cats are highly territorial animals, historically protective of their turf. If your old cat is howling or meowing at night, a stranger or another cat has likely invaded its space. Your cat may also display odd behavior if it’s feeling vulnerable or insecure due to factors like:

  • Separation anxiety
  • A recent move to a new home

Do Cats Yowl For Attention?

Just like any other pet, cats require love and affection. They want to feel needed by their ‘parents,’ and if you don’t give them enough attention, they will often become:

  • Vocal
  • Anxious
  • Apprehensive

Your cat will also yowl if it’s in distress. It may require your attention to help it overcome whatever is bothering it.

Why Do Cats Yowl For No Apparent Reason?

Cats do not yowl for no reason. Every yowl, meow, or growl is a sign that something is wrong and requires attention. Since cats cannot talk, their only way of communicating their pains and frustrations is through yowling or howling.

If you hear your cat yowling persistently, you should not ignore it. Instead, take your time to find out what could be the problem. If you are equally confused, you can call the vet to guide you further on what to do.

Cat Yowling For Food

Some cats yowl for food, so it’s important to provide enough food and water to avoid the annoying meowing at night. Conditions like hyperthyroid can make your cat hungry most of the time due to an increased metabolism. If this is the case, you will notice your cat yowling persistently until you give it a meal.

Do Cats Yowl When In Heat?

Caterwauling and yowling are common when female cats are in heat. Females do this as a way to contact any male cats within their vicinity. In return, the male cats will also yowl as a way of heeding the call. The yowling will continue until the female gets a suitable mate.

Do Cats Yowl When In Pain?

Cats also yowl when in pain or distress. Strange behaviors like hissing, growling, and constant agitation could be a sign that your cat is in pain or injured. It will need urgent medical attention for immediate relief.

Since cats can’t talk, the only way to communicate to us and other cats is through vocalization and displaying odd behaviors. The sounds may be annoying, but they’re a sincere request for help.

Do Cats Yowl When They Are Bored?

Our feline friends do have feelings, and they can sometimes feel lonely or even bored. To release the negative energy, your cat might scratch your expensive furniture, pull out its fur, repeatedly lick itself, meow constantly, and indulge in other repetitive behaviors.

Why Do Cats Yowl After Pooping?

Your cat may yowl after pooping because of 2 main reasons. It could be that your cat has a digestive problem and is experiencing discomfort when pooping, hence the yowl. Another possible reason is that its litter box is full and requires off-loading and replacing. After all, your cat won’t tolerate the smell of its own poop.

Why Do Cats Yowl Before Fighting?

Before fighting, cats naturally yowl as a way of intimidating other felines. It works as a show of strength, proving that the cat is stronger, more aggressive, and more dedicated to the conflict than anyone else.

This is most common among male cats. The hissing and howling can discourage other cats from trying to invade the male’s chosen territory or taking food that it’s claimed.  

Because of this, some cats yowl as a way of avoiding confrontation. Since fights can end up with serious injuries, felines will opt to be intimidating long before they ever need to be powerful.

How To Stop Your Cat From Yowling At Night

Dealing with excessive yowling at night can be frustrating. That’s especially true if you don’t know how to go about it. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help your kitty settle down for the night and feel better in the first place.

Find Out The Cause Of Yowling

The best way to treat a problem is to establish its cause. A cat vocalizing at night might seem normal at first, but it points to a deeper issue if the yowling persists.

With this in mind, you should find out why your cat is uneasy and take action to address the situation. Your cat could be yowling because of:

  • Pain
  • Injury
  • Sensory decline
  • Age-related health problems

Provide Food And Water

If there is no medical issue causing your cat to yowl at night, it may be hungry or thirsty. Some cats tend to meow at night, hoping that you’ll wake up to feed them. This is particularly true if you don’t usually feed your cat on a particular schedule. Providing essentials like food and water will help reduce the pesky nighttime calls.

why do cats scream at night?

Keep Your Elderly Cat Comfortable

Elderly cats are likely to yowl due to the underlying conditions that come with aging. However, you can reduce the noise by making sure your senior cat is as comfortable as possible.

Start by keeping the cat’s bedding warm and draft-free. If your cat is losing its vision, consider installing nightlights to help it navigate through the dark.

Install A Cat Flap

Cats are usually very active during the night. If your cat prefers the outdoors, keeping it inside will make it feel trapped. This will translate to nights of constant yowling. Consider installing a cat flap to allow your cat to move in or out uninterrupted.

If none of the above measures seem to work, and your cat is still yowling at night, then it is time you take your cat to see a vet. The expert will not only examine the cat for issues such as cognitive dysfunction and hyperthyroidism. A vet will also be qualified to give you advice on how to keep your elderly cat calm throughout the night.