cat me translate catspeak into English

I’ve had my cat Stretch for almost 18 years. He’s neutered and in fairly good health. Like most cat owners, I’ve learned what he’s trying to communicate by the sound of his meows. I can tell when he’s happy, angry, scared and relaxed by his vocalizations.
Except, there’s one sound he does that I’ve never been able to figure out. He’s been making this sound ever since he was young. It sounds like an infant crying. Almost like he’s wailing in pain, but he’s not screaming. Almost like a moan.
He only does this sound when he’s in our basement, by himself, never around anyone else. I can hear it, but I can’t see him, so I don’t know what he’s doing when he makes this sound. He’ll do this moaning sound over and over for a few minutes and then trot back upstairs like everythings normal.
The few times I’ve tried to sneak downstairs to catch what he’s up to, I see him walking aimlessly around while making that noise. He’s not using the litter box or anything. He usually catches me looking at him pretty quick and like he’s in a trance, he’ll snap out of it, stop his weird wailing sound and meow at me in a friendly tone like, “Oh Hello!”
Of all you cat lovers out there, someone has to know what I’m talking about. I’ve just always been curious what he’s doing. He’s the only cat I have that makes this noise.

In my experience, this is the sound of “Holy shit! I’m all by myself! Where IS everybody?” That’s why he gives you the “Oh Hello!” meow when he sees you.

I’ve had cats my whole life and I’ve had a few that did what you’re describing. I’ll tell you what I think it means. The joke in our house is that they’re “lost.” The two that I have currently that cry like that will do it either in the kitchen or the back bed room, usually at night when it’s dark. It’s often right after they’ve woken up from a nap, too. We’ll call to them, usually something very sympathetic like “We’re in here, idiot.” And they’ll come running out, chirping hello.

I doubt they’re really lost. They have better senses then we do. I think they’re just kinda asking where we are. I’ve seen little kittens make the same noise when separated from their mother and littermates. The mama cat with call back and the kitten finds their way back to the nest. Similar thing. For whatever reason they want to know where their people are.

One of my current cats does this, and yes, he only does it when he’s alone. I think he’s trying to channel all of my previous cats.

My oldest cat will go sit in the steps to downstair and make the loudest, most guttural mywow-wow-wow that she can.It literally sounds like she is being tortured. I think she just likes the echo or the reverb, because she never makes that sound anywhere else.

My friend’s 17-year-old cat only does this when he thinks the house is empty. But his hearing and eyesight aren’t very good, so he’s often mistaken about this. He always acts startled if you come around the corner when he’s wailing. I had a cat once, Vera, who would do it too, but only when I left a sock drawer open or a laundry basket out: she would hold a sock in her teeth, dragging it between her legs like a lion with a cub, moaning through the sock. She would deposit the sock somewhere, then go back for another. If I left my sock drawer open, I would come home to find the place covered in socks, like autumn under a sock tree, or like there’d been a bomb planted in my sock drawer. She also only did this when she thought she was alone. (I bottle-raised her from a newborn, so I always assumed it had something to do with her lost childhood.)

I’m voting for this. I had a cat that would go into our unfinished basement and yowl loudly. She’d never do it anywhere else, just in the basement where it echoed. The door was always open, so she wasn’t trapped or anything.

My husband’s cat does this, too, and we’re pretty sure she does it because she wants US to come play with HER (heaven forbid she should come to where we are and play with us there). She also does it when she’s bringing Jim the bag of foam balls that she brings to him every night (you’re cat people - I’m sure I don’t need to explain that :slight_smile: ).

Same story here.

Olive does this whenever she’s left alone somewhere. Usually in the mornings - we don’t let her in the bedroom, and around 8am she’ll usually start pawing at the door and going, “wwoww? wwwwow? WWWOW!” It’s the most pathetic noise. The only other time she makes that noise is when I wrap her in a blanket in order to clip her nails or give her a pill.

Lonely. My cat Rex often goes off to hang out in a room by himself, and then after awhile will make this forlorn noise that you describe. I call out to him, “Hey Rex, we’re in here!” and he trills happily in reply. Little goofball.

He is communicating with the Mother Ship. You aren’t supposed to know. They are still planning on taking over the world and eating us all.

Try yelling out that you can see him. That’s usually what will do it. I’ve heard this behavior in many cats, and it’s always the same way.

My cat has been doing that yeowly noise ever since I moved into the new apartment. It turns out he is talking to the donwstairs cat through the baseboard heating system. My other family cat did the yeowly noise in the basement and we found out that a neighborhood cat was crouching by a window.

makes me miss my kitties. :frowning:

Nah. They communicate with the Mother Ship by getting into THIS position, one hind leg lifted into the air, foot pointed straight up. That hind leg is actually a transponder, and they lick their crotch in order to make humans look away from them in disgust, so we won’t notice what they’re actually doing.


You guys are funny! Apparently my cat is just a weirdo, like every other cat out there. Gotta love 'em!

Yep, my cats do this, and we think that they’re “lost,” just like 1GothMama. We call out, they get found again, it’s all good.

I’ve got a cat that does this. Like some other posters have said, she will go off into another part of the apartment, get lonely, and then start wailing like this. I’ll call for her and she’ll come trotting in, jump up on my lap and start purring away like nothing happened.

Thing is, she never used to do this. Then one day, she had kittens. Still, never wailed like that, though. It started when I moved into the apartment I’m in now. My old roommates took the kittens (which were fully grown by that point). We had 3 generations of them. I have Petunia, the matriarch, and Trillian, the wailer. I thought she may be in some sort of pain, so I took her to the vet, who said she’s the picture of health. My theory is that Trill is lonely and pining for her children, and then when I call her, she thinks “oh, FINE, I guess you’ll have to do”, and settles for me. :smiley:

It’s hard to figure out if you’re talking about the same sound in print, but I think this is what Tikva does. She makes an unholy racket when she feels ignored, anyway. Her territory is limited to the second floor (I can sometimes get her to come down to the living room at night when it’s very quiet), and she takes it personally when I stubbornly persist on spending my time at ground level. She yowls and moans until I go over to the stairway, give her a pat, and assure her I’m not about to vanish into thin air. Then when I go back to finish my dinner, she starts up again. Also when I’m in the bathroom. The first thing I hear when I turn off the shower is “Wrooooaaooooh! This stupid door is in my way! I can’t see you! Wraaaoooooaaaah!”.
When I’m on the computer in the basement, I can’t hear her very well. Thus, I’ll often be playing Internet games late at night, and a family member will come down and say, “Your cat’s calling for you and we can’t sleep.”