Berg! STFU!
April 10, 2010 5:45 PM   Subscribe

Midnight Sonata for Cat in C Minor

We have two cats, Maggie and Bergamot (Maggie is using Bergamot for a pillow in the picture). Berg occasionally decides that 1 a.m., after I've gone to bed and the apartment is settled down, is a good time to wander the living room, singing. He's normally quite quiet: He doesn't mew for attention, unless he's brought a (knit) mouse and wants it thrown, and then it's a very short, high pitched, almost apologetic noise. At night, though, it's yowling. It doesn't seem pained so much as joyful exercise of otherwise unused vocal cords.

Both cats are fixed, in excellent health and have a great relationship. We're very conscientious about their living conditions and there's no obvious complaints at other times. The bedroom door is open and they're welcome to sleep with us (and frequently do, right in my wife's business). The litterbox is cleaned just before we go to bed, and there's food and fresh water available.

We ignore it, and he'll stop after several minutes. Should we punish him? He's very sensitive--on any other punishment issue he's very quick to pick up on our disapproval. We can't spray him anymore because just looking at spray bottle is sufficient for him to act contrite. Continue ignoring him? It's really disruptive to our sleep when it happens.
posted by fatbird to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Gorgeous kitties! How old are they? One of our three is now almost 14, and he's begun singin' the blues almost every night. It sounds eerie sometimes, like he's talking to someone and pausing for them to (silently) talk to him. We think (based on no facts whatsoever) that he wakes up feeling like a lonely old cat who has been abandoned and he has to start yowling to get attention so he doesn't feel alone.

Could Bergamot be looking through a window at other cats or nocturnal animals outside, and hollering at them?

I don't think I would punish him -- this probably does fall under the "cats will be cats" heading. You could try playing with him a bit before bedtime, to see if that tires him out enough so he doesn't want to sing.
posted by vickyverky at 5:57 PM on April 10, 2010

Response by poster: Good questions! They're both 2 years old, Berg 7 months older than Maggie (so I don't think it's senility). We're on the 12th floor and no other cats are visible from the windows (or other animals, for that matter). When he sees the occasional insect, he goes into silent hunter mode, ass in the air and wiggling like he's warming up the engine, and chatters a bit.
posted by fatbird at 6:01 PM on April 10, 2010

Several of our cats spend a certain amount of time "hunting". This usually involves small, stuffed, prey-like cat toys. They will hold them, move them, carry them, hit them... and often it involves some rather strange vocal sounds/singing/mewing.

I wouldn't punish her, especially if it is only a few minutes...

We've a heppa air filter running at night in the bedroom, white noise that masks the various cat adventures happening in other rooms!
posted by HuronBob at 6:06 PM on April 10, 2010

Best answer: Many cats feel the need to exorcise the invisible monsters from their homes after the food apes have gone to bed. It is normal, just wait it out.
posted by matildaben at 6:10 PM on April 10, 2010 [8 favorites]

Our big black fuzzy monster Giles will do this quite a lot. I suspect he just wants to be sure that we're still around. If I make a few kissy noises at him and say his name, that seems to reassure him and he goes about the rest of his business relatively quietly. I suspect that similar reassurance, not punishment, is the best plan for your guy, too.
posted by jesourie at 6:32 PM on April 10, 2010

Our cat does that. We ignore her and she settles down.
posted by Doohickie at 7:05 PM on April 10, 2010

nthing "ignore it and it'll stop within a couple of minutes". Our two cats will wait until maybe ten minutes after they realize we've closed the door and gone to bed (girlfriend is mildly allergic), then they'll take turns yowling at each other for a few minutes before shutting up for the rest of the night.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:26 PM on April 10, 2010

Not feline senility, then ... although if you're 12 floors up, maybe Berg is telling you that Batcat is flying around, saving the citizens while the city sleeps. (grin)

We sleep with a radio or white noise machine on, anyway, so that usually drowns out any household noises -- one of us snoring, cat miaowing at 3 a.m., etc. Could you stand to do that, maybe?
posted by vickyverky at 7:26 PM on April 10, 2010

I have had a number of cats that do what HuronBob is describing with socks, toy mice and other small things, and yes, mostly at night. Wilshire sounds absolutely despondent but it's part of her nightly playtime routine which looks like she's having a fuckin' blast.
posted by avocet at 11:21 PM on April 10, 2010

My Oliver (he looks like a skinny version of Bergamot) does the same thing at night. I just softly call to him, he comes to me for a couple pats and goes on to do whatever it is that cats do while we sleep, only quietly.
posted by deborah at 10:17 PM on April 11, 2010

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