It is common for senior cats to vocalize excessively. This is most likely to happen during the night. This can be difficult for many owners due to disturbed sleep patterns and concerns about the wellness of their cats.
A geriatric cat that yowls at night could have Feline Cognitive Dysfunction. If not, it may be in pain or sick. Senior cats are prone to arthritis, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, etc. If you find no medical explanation, check that your cat is not feeling anxious. Also, an unspayed female could also be in heat, yowling to be let outside.
There will always be a good reason for an older cat crying at night. Monitor your cat closely to gain a better understanding of why it’s happening. We’re going to look at all of the most likely explanations.
Table of Contents:
My Senior Cat Cries at Night
Senior cats undergo a range of behavioral changes. The European Journal of Companion Animal Practice lists excessive verbalization, especially at night, as a frequent complaint.
When an older cat starts to yowl during the night, it can be a serious concern. It will cost you sleep, disturb your neighbors, and the cat is clearly in distress. This is clearly not a symptom to be ignored.
Some cats are more vocal than others. Siamese breeds, in particular, are very talkative. There is a difference between meowing and yowling at night, though. This will become apparent when a cat reaches its golden years.
The most common explanations for an elderly cat to yowl at night are:
- Attention seeking
- Accidents outside the litter tray
- Chronic pain
- Feline cognitive dysfunction
- Entering heat
Some of these concerns are easier to manage than others. Do what you can to determine the cause of the verbalization. Observation of behavioral patterns will usually reveal pivotal information.
1/ Attention Seeking
It is always possible that an older cat is simply demonstrating some bad habits. Older cats can become demanding. As a cat ages, it expects to have its need met on the spot.
If your cat is yowling because it is hungry or wants attention, this must be managed carefully. Ordinarily, the advice would be to ignore the cat. Giving in to demands at all hours sets a dangerous precedent. With senior cats, however, there could an underlying reason.
Leave dry food out for your cat at night. This will assure it that food is always available. Get your cat into a strict routine, too. Ensure the cat knows when it is appropriate to expect one-on-one attention. Unless the cat is in the grasp of senility, it will understand these rules.
If the yowling continues after taking these corrective measures, look deeper. The cause of the cat’s behavior is more serious than mere mischief-making. There will be a medical or psychological explanation.
2/ Litter Tray Problems
Older cats often become incontinent. This is not fun for an owner, but it’s also mortifying for a cat. If your cat has an accident in the night, it will yowl to notify you. The cat wants the mess cleaned up.
Your cat will likely be experiencing feelings of humiliation. Drawing attention to the mishap will just magnify the problem further. Clean up the urine or feces and go back to bed.
Your cat may also yowl if it is worried about making it to the litter tray. This will create a panic. The cat is hoping you will carry it to the tray. Manage this by keeping a litter tray in every room. Greater access to litter trays minimizes the likelihood of accidents and anxiety.
3/ Chronic Pain
As cats age, they experience a litany of muscular pains. Arthritis is the most common example.
According to Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice, senior cats come to associate nighttime with pain. This can lead to other behavioral issues, including yowling.
Arthritis can become increasingly problematic for cats at night. Cats should keep moving to remain supple. If a cat lies still, the pain can magnify. This can eventually become increasingly uncomfortable. It’s very common for older cats to have stiff back legs.
In addition, the ambient temperature will drop at night. This can make an arthritic cat’s joints feel stiffer and more painful.
Make your arthritic cat as comfortable as possible at night. Provide a large, comfortable bed with plenty of padding to protect the joints. Consider adding a hot water bottle to provide heat therapy.
Keep your cat active during the day, too. This serves two purposes. Firstly, senior cats tire easily. If your cat is exhausted, it will sleep through the night. It may yowl in the morning, as it will wake up in pain. This discomfort is easier to manage through massage or medication.
Regular movement also helps ease the pressure on a cat’s arthritic joints. The more active the cat is, the less it will suffer in the longer term. This approach must be coupled with supplements and medication.
Finally, arrange a routine that encourages your arthritic cat to sleep late at night. Move play and feeding back to later in the day. This will leave your cat full, warm, tired, and contented at a human bedtime. Instinct dictates that the cat will then fall into a long sleep.
If an elderly cat is sick, it will typically keep the symptoms to itself. Cats are masters of hiding discomfort until it is impossible to do so. Yowling constantly at night is a sign that something is very wrong. There are three primary medical explanations for a cat to yowl at night.
All of these conditions are serious and must be treated immediately.
Hypertension in cats is the clinical term for high blood pressure. A stressed or anxious cat will experience temporary hypertension. Constant high blood pressure places a cat’s heart under stress.
If your cat is yowling at night for no reason, take its blood pressure. If hypertension is diagnosed, the cat will be treated with oral medication. Hypertension cannot be cured, but it can be managed.
Hyperthyroidism is comparatively rare in cats. If it does impact a cat, it will invariably be an older feline. It is rare for any cat younger than twelve years to be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
The condition is a glandular disorder. The thyroid gland is located in a cat’s throat and releases key hormones. Hyperthyroidism means that these hormones are released to excess, flooding a cat’s body.
A hyperthyroid cat will be constantly hungry, though it will lose weight no matter how much it eats. This can lead to constant disturbances in the night. Cats with this condition can also experience bursts of hyperactivity. These can arise at any time, including the middle of the night. The cat will yowl and cry for attention.
In senior cats, hyperthyroidism is typically controlled with oral medication. Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is possible but risky in geriatric cats.
Meningioma is a malignant tumor that affects the membranes in a cat’s brain. This tumor attacks the nervous system and leads to behavioral changes. Excessive meowing at night is the most common symptom, along with listlessness and uncoordinated movement.
As Veterinary Surgery explains, the prognosis for cats with meningioma is poor. Most cats to do not survive longer than two years after surgery. The problem must be managed immediately upon diagnosis.
5/ Feline Cognitive Dysfunction
Feline Cognitive Dysfunction is essentially senility in cats. This is a debilitating disease that typically affects cats older than fifteen years.
There is no cure for Feline Cognitive Dysfunction, but the symptoms can be slowed down if the condition is diagnosed and treated sufficiently early.
Yowling at night is a common symptom, according to the Feline Journal of Medicine and Surgery. A senile cat will experience a reverse sleep-waking cycle. The cat will doze all day, growing active, anxious and disoriented by night.
Other symptoms are attributable to the DISHA acronym. This stands for:
- Interaction changes with humans and other pets
- Sleep-wake cycle changes
- House soiling
- Agitation and decreased Activity levels
Your cat will require a combination of medication, supplements, and changes to diet and lifestyle. The most important thing is to keep your cat’s mind as active as possible.
Speak to your cat regularly, encouraging it to verbalize in response. Play games that require your cat to think.
Provide mental stimulus, such as feline-specific music. These steps will slow down the degeneration of your cat’s critical faculties.
Anxious cats are always more verbal. Cats that experience stress or fear express this through meowing and yowling. The cat is making its concerns known and seeking reassurance.
An anxious cat will find this fretfulness magnified at night. If human owners are sleeping, they are not available to provide comfort. The cat will make a din until this problem is resolved.
Stress in cats is usually sparked by changes to routine. Help your cat adjust to unavoidable changes as quickly as possible. In senior cats, health concerns could also be to blame. A cat in pain, or experiencing sickness, will feel vulnerable. Cats loathe feeling this way.
Try to keep your cat calm. Use scents such as lavender or frankincense. If catnip relaxes your cat, offer a little. Place a hot water bottle in the cat’s bed and pad it with cushions.
7/ Entering Heat
A cat in heat will want to be outside constantly. The cat’s hormones are driving her crazy. She will be driven by an instinctive need to find a mate.
If your cat is in estrus, she will not respect the confines of the clock. If she is awake, she wants to be outside. Cats in heat will make noise until they get their wish.
Do not assume that just because your cat is senior, her fertility is behind her. There is no feline menopause. Unspayed cats enter heat throughout their entire life cycle.
There is only one way to permanently resolve this behavior. The cat will need to be spayed when her cycle ends. Until this occurs, the yowling will continue every time the cat begins a new cycle.
A senior cat making noise at night invariably has an explanation. Most older cats want the opportunity for undisturbed sleep. If your cat is verbalizing excessively after dark, something is wrong.
Before this becomes a major concern, determine the problem and look to resolve it. Most issues relating to late-night yowling will not fix themselves.