Why Do Cats Yowl and What Does It Mean

Cat Yowling: Why Do Cats Yowl and What Does It Mean?

As cat owners, we will often hear our cats meow and purr. Neither of these two noises give us much cause for concern as they are typical characteristics of a cat. However, we may also be subjected to another characteristic and that is a cat yowling. In this guide to why do cats yowl, we look at all the reasons that cats may yowl and why exactly they exhibit this behavior. We also investigate male cat yowling as well as elderly cat yowling to see whether there is anything that we, as cat owners, need to worry about if we are exposed to this action. Bearing that in mind, we also investigate cat yowling after eating and cat yowling at night.

Cat Yowling

So Why Do Cats Yowl?

Yowling is simply a more piercing and attention grabbing form of meowing. Cats tend to do it with more frequency the older they get, which is why elderly cat yowling is so common. While it should not cause any concern, there are a number of reasons that you should take an older cat to the vet if their yowling is accompanied by some actions we look at below.

But during a young adult cat’s life, they will largely use yowling as a form of communication with other cats. Meowing is more often seen as their way to communicate with humans, but cats can definitely yowl at humans too for various reasons. Bearing this in mind, here is a list that may answer a cat owner’s common question: why is my cat yowling?

  • They want your attention – This is fairly common. Cats are often thought of as independent creatures, however, this is a bit of a misconception. Cats are fine on their own up to a point when they most definitely want some company and attention from their owner. To do so they will often start yowling so that their owner begins petting or stroking them, or better yet starting a game with them. However, with a view to the future, it is best not to give in and provide your cat with what they want if they have yowled for attention. By doing so, you will only encourage your cat to do so again and again in future.
  • They’re hungry – Cats will often meow or yowl if they are hungry or simply want food. While cat owners will not want to think of their cats as going hungry, it is best to feed them only when they have quieted down. Again, much like giving them attention when they yowl, if a cat owner feeds their cat when they start yowling, this will becomes a learned behavior. Often, your cat will not need feeding immediately when they start yowling. By only feeding them when they are quiet, you are ensuring that they learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Additionally, if you feed them every time they yowl, your cat is likely to put on weight and become obese. This is easily done given how small cats are – they only need a little overfeeding a day to become an unhealthy weight. Bear this in kind if you see your cat yowling after eating.

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  • They’re stressed out – Cats can be a fairly anxious breed. It is often recommended to cat owners to feed them at the same time each day and to move furniture around the home only when strictly necessary. Changing small things like that have been proven to cause a great deal of stress in a cat which can manifest itself in yowling. If you think your cat is yowling because he or she is stressed, try to think of any changes to your home recently that may have caused them this new anxiety. That way, you can try to placate her worries.
  • They’re in heat – If a cat is not spayed or neutered, they will come into season and with that they are seen to yowl a great deal more. This is one of the main answers to the question why does my cat yowl. If you do not want to breed your cat and also can’t stand the level of yowling that she is exhibiting, then it may be a good idea to think about having your cat neutered. Female cats yowl when they are in heat. On the flip side of that, male cat yowling is due to a male cat having smelt a female cat who is in season.
  • They’re unwell – Cats will yowl or meow excessively if they are unwell. This is when cat owners need to know the difference between any one of the above causes of yowling and take their cat to the vet instead. Therefore, if your cat’s excessive meowing is coupled with any form of diarrhea, vomiting or an excessive thirst, then it is a good idea to go straight to the vets. Additionally, if your cat is yowling and seems to be walking with some discomfort – either because they are limping or for another reason – it is best to take them to the vet to have them checked out thoroughly.

Cat walking on dandelion lawn

Elderly Cat Yowling

Elderly cat yowling is fairly common because they can so often suffer from various ailments that elderly humans suffer from in the form of cognitive dysfunction. Elderly cat yowling is a characteristic of their mental confusion and they will therefore often yowl when they are disoriented. It is also common to see an elderly cat yowling at night as this is a time when they can become more disoriented owing to the failing light. It can be quite upsetting to see, so there are a number of actions an owner can take. They can either try using a nightlight when it gets dark or they can take their cat to the vet who may be able to give the cat medication to help with their cognitive function or anxiety that arises from their deteriorating mind.

Related Post: Best Cat Food for Older Cats

In short, however, elderly cat yowling is just one of those things that happens to an aging cat in varying degrees of severity.

Why Does My Cat Yowl? The Bottom Line

Most of the time, cats yowling is perfectly normal and should not be anything to worry about. However, that is not to say that a cat owner can be blase about the amount their cat yowls or how loud it is. The reason being is that it can be a reason for concern in some instances. Cat owners need to be aware of those instances and seek help if they believe there is something more serious to the reason behind their cat making these noises.

Lastly, there are a few things to bear in mind in terms of your cat’s yowling. As alluded to above, never simply just ignore your cat’s yowling. Try to ascertain the exact reason as to what is causing them to make the noise before deciding whether to ignore it or to take action. Your cat has limited ways of communicating with you and it could be that they are trapped somewhere in the house and need your help or perhaps their water bowl needs refilling.

Try, as well, not to punish your cat if he or she is yowling. All this will do is instill fear in them and that fear will be directed at you. The result will be that your relationship with him or her is ruined forever and they will not give you the love that can be so wonderful about owning a cat.

Finally, cats often start yowling simply because meowing did not proffer the result that they wanted. If this is because they want feeding or for another reason that is not urgent, then do absolutely ignore their whining. It can be so hard to do and so easy simply to give in and fill up their food try or pet and stroke them, but in the long run, you are making a rod for your back. Your cat will simply do it more often and with more urgency in future if they don’t get their own way then. It may be annoying in the short term, but it’s best not pander to their every whim for your long term benefit.


  1. Why Does My Cat Meow So Much?, Best Friends Animal Society
  2. Why Does My Cat Meow So Much?, Animal Humane Society
  3. Kristen Hall-Geisler, Why Do Old Cats Yowl So Much?, HowStuffWorks

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