WHY does my cat do this??

Hi everyone, LONG time lurker, first time poster. My desperation over this situation has finally caused me to come out of the corner. I know there are plenty of animal lovers on the board and I hope someone can help.

Here’s the problem, I have a cat, ex-male, 2yrs old, that WON’T SHUT UP AT NIGHT. He meows and meows at the top of his voice, and not like that nice Warner Bros. cat (“le meow, le puuurrrr”) either. Oh no! This is more like wake the dead, worst-sound-you’ve-ever-heard meowing. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t sleep. Mrs. nrd is about to wring his neck. However, I’m quite attached to the little so-and-so, and I’d rather correct the behavior and avoid the neck-wringing.

Other facts: we’ve got another cat and two dogs in the house - he’s not lonely. Also, he’s an indoor cat, so wise-ass suggestions like “Pitch his butt outside!” won’t help.

Any advice, sympathy or anecdotes would be greatly appreciated.

(Oh man, spelling is hard! Where’s the spell-checker? I need the squiggly red line to tell me what I can’t spell.)

Either he has a brain disorder, like an epilepsy, or something causes pain/discomfort. You may try painkillers or a veterinarian.

Was he neutered as a kitten (before 6 months) of as an adult? I’ve heard that cats neutered as adults will keep some behaviors of intact males. If that is the case, my WAG is a female in heat somewhere nearby. But do everyone a favor and take him to the vet.

very likely, he wants attention. The vet can check him out for health problem, and even give a mild tranquiizer.

I’m just here to offer sympathy. I hope you find out what’s making your cat meow. The only thing I can suggest is playing with him just before you go to bed so he’ll be tired. I have trouble with my cats if they have a big nap right before bedtime. They’re awake when I go to bed, so they decide to have fights. Usually they fight at the end of the bed, which is very unpleasant.

Well, he’s trying to tell you something. Now the trick is finding out what the heck it is.

If he doesn’t keep up the caterwauling during the day, it’s probably not “I’m sick” - but do take him to your vet, if only to rule out illness as the problem. It could mean, “I want to go out,” “I’m hungry,” or “Hey, you closed the bedroom door!” (Cats seem to take any closed door as a personal affront and would prefer that you stand there holding it open for them). If you can determine just what he does want, say, a bedtime snack, and give it to him, you stand a reasonable chance of shutting him up.

If you are unable or unwilling to satisfy his catly demands, it’s time for a spot of negative conditioning. The weapon of choice for many cat owners is a squirt gun - most cats do not like getting wet. Squirt him when he yowls, and it will eventually penetrate his tiny brain that you will stop when he does.

And if that doesn’t work, might I suggest some earplugs for you and the Missus?

My cat did the same thing. He would try his darndest to get us up between 3:30 and 4:00 EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. It was extremely frustrating. Then he started scratching the bed to wake us up. We trim his nails, so he doesn’t cause any damage…it’s the only thing he scratches, and it’s only when we’re asleep, so he’s obviously trying to get us up. Well, after 2-3 months of virutally no sleep, we decided to squirt him with our reprimand squirt bottle once when he acts up (cats hate water), then ignore him the rest of the night. Not a single acknowledgement that he was there. Took him 2 nights…now we’ve gotten good nights sleeps for the last 3 weeks, and he simply waits for the alarm to go off before attempting to get us up. All I can say is that you should have patience…once he realizes that he gets NOTHING out of meowing at that time of day, he’ll probably stop. May take a while, but it will most likely stop. BTW, my cat is a 1.5 yr old male.


peace writes:

Do remember, however, that NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen) should not be given to a cat except under direct veterinary supervision, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) should be not be given at all, since these are highly toxic to cats.

Maybe he’s bored.

My cat is a neutered male, who probably has not yet forgiven me for that, and he is an inside kitty. I do not advocate allowing cats to run free outside mainly because of human related dangers to them. Like the guy down the street who shoots cats with a pellet gun if they jump on his piece of crap car or that sometimes drivers aim for the furry bundle trying to cross the road.

My cat jumps to the window when it is open and yowls now and then, but I figure either he has spotted another cat lurking in the yard somewhere or is bored. The water squirter is an excellent idea. Your cat might figure he has more right to your attentions than the other family pets do and will bug you a bit to get it.

I mean, my cat occasionally walks across the bed when I’m snoozing and bats me in the face to wake me up so he can get petted. Plus now and then he likes to unexpectedly explode into a pile of bristling fur, wild eyes, tail curled into a question mark, goes stiff leggedly bouncing about, yowling and dancing, glaring at me to come play with him, which I do and he’s happy for a while again.

Then I go get the iodine and Band-Aids for me.

Your cat has discovered all the secrets of the universe and unraveled all mysteries of life. His cries of lament in the darkness are his only method of conveying to you and the entire world the futility of existence.

Really, I think BunnyGirl is correct. Male cats are driven by their nature to run free at night so they can woo ladies, fight competitors and get drunk with their companions at the pub down the lane. Some cats are affected by these impulses more than others. I had a cat that behaved very much like you have described. The company of the other cats in the house was not enough to make him happy. He would pace all night, peering out into the darkness through the windows, no doubt convincing himself that he was held prisoner and kept separate from all the wonders and glories of the outside world just beyond his reach. As he got older, the effect lessened. Much like a human, he grew into a sense of complacency. His youthful dreams of adventure faded to dull ambitions of peace, quiet and warmth.

[slight hijack]

One of my cats, Coppelia, insists on getting treats at 6am. She won’t shut up until I get out of bed and shuffle into the kitchen to indulge her. I’ve considered having her vocal cords surgically removed :wink:
[/slight byejack]

One of our cats, a 10 year old neutered female, will often howl in the night over a toy (a furry stuffed mouse). I believe it the instinctual reaction of a mother (even though she never acutally had any kittens) calling her kids to come and join the “hunt”. They are by nature a nocturnal aminal and it may take a little time for them to get used to a human schedule. An indoor cat especially needs an outlet for pent up energy so I try to give mine a good play sometime during the day. If I ignore them too many days in a row we get the night “yodels” Usually a gentle holler will settle her down (not always) but when you love someone you put up with some of their cr*p. Hang in there.


Thanks for the help everyone. Sorry it took so long to respond. That’s the way it is, post at night, work all day.

peace - You’re probably right - I think he does have a brain disorder, I think the Latin is Beingus Felinus. Really, as someone mentioned, as he doesn’t do this during the day, I don’t think he’s in pain.

dragonlady - Neutered as a kitten.

aseymayo - As to your earplug suggestion - Mrs. nrd already sleeps with her head under the pillow.

1967GTO - Hilarious description - LOL!

blessedwolf - Mrs. nrd is with you on vocal cord removal. Just kidding everyone - we wouldn’t do that!

For everyone else, thanks for the support, we’ll give the hydro-therapy a try.

Cat sufferers - UNITE!

(On the other hand, cat #3 is currently on my lap purring away. This after his repeatedly stretching out to touch me on the nose. Why do they do THAT?)

I can sympathize a bit… I have two (one male, one female) and Adam (the male) has a very penatrative voice. when he starts calling like that it either means:

“Hey, you didn’t leave the bathroom tap dripping so I can drink” (there are water bowl out, he prefers the tap <shrug>)


“Hey, where are you anyway”, which I call his echo location meowing. I just holler “Over here Adam” and he comes bounding into the room to sit on me and demand to be petted.

Touching your nose… well, it got your attention, didn’t it?


bagkitty insight: what makes anyone think a cat cares about any schedule other than its own?

The OP wasn’t clear on one important point, is the bedroom door closed so that the cat can’t get in, jump on the bed, poke it’s face into yours and generally do whatever it wants?

There is probably nothing wrong with the cat at all except that it’s bipedal play things aren’t amusing it the way it expects them to. To the cat this is probably a game… “think I can make my humans get out of bed and come see what I am up to”? If you respond, the cat wins… cats love winning.

Sounds like the squirt bottle is the way to go.

Well, I have a kitty who does this occasionally when we are awake, all sitting in another room. It is actually cute when he does it, because I totally swear, he is saying, ‘mwaa-mah’ – that’s ‘mama’ for those of you who don’t know my kitty’s vocabulary.

But it can be annoying. Try playing vigorously with him before bed… jumping, chasing, climbing type play. I used to have to do this with one of my kitties, because as soon as the lights went out, it was time to be naughty. I would get him tired out, and it helped. Get some long shoestrings. Cats love to chase them. Also, if your house is totally dark at night, you might want to get a night-light, so he can roam around the house. Cats can see in dim light, but not in darkness. Try raising a blind so he can look outside.

Also, giving him some catnip before bed might help. Or he might yowl more. But, it is worth a try. My cats will nibble the dry catnip, and get kind of happy and hyper, and then they get kind of cranky and are ready for a nap.

Squirt bottles can help, but one of my cats understands where that water is coming from, and it is now a game to him… do a bad thing, then try to outwit the aim of mom with the water bottle.

Best of luck with your kitty…

I had this same problem. How I solved it? I filled the cat room with toys. Oh, and I always give him some light food at night.

I know it always helps ME sleep when I play with myself before bed. But in THIS case I think I’d rather just put up with the meowing.

Perhaps it’s just curiousity. My little 6 month ex-male seems fascinated with my face. I’m assuming that it’s the lack of fur that fascinates him. He’s constantly reaching out and placing a paw on my lips or cheek, kinda patting and feeling around for a few minutes, and then sitting back with a puzzled look.

Or perhaps he was just trying to get your attention.

Or perhaps he’s like my mom’s cat, who’s very tactile and always giving “love pats”. My mom believes the cat is mimicing the human petting motion to convey that she’s happy.