What do I do about my cat's late-night triumphant yowling?
July 9, 2015 8:03 AM   Subscribe

My cat Omar is a huge orange-and-white 7 year old domestic short-haired male, and he's pretty well-behaved most of the time (if a bit suspicious and stand-offish). His late night yowling is SUPER loud though! Help!

Obligatory photos of said cat.

Several times in the middle of each night, he "catches" a toy, takes it to his favorite spot in the entryway/stairway, and hollers about having caught it. It's REALLY loud, and it echoes (due to probably to the location and wood floors throughout our house). We can hear it through a closed door and over a fan.

It's not a health problem - he's fine. He does "talk" some at other times (wanting petting and expressing annoyance), but I wouldn't say he's an overly vocal cat. He's just really pleased with himself when he catches a toy and has a big voice when he wants to.

Admittedly, this isn't a huge problem, but it does disturb guests when we have them. We're also expecting a baby in November and I'm not thrilled with the idea of him waking the kid up. I've read this question - white noise helps a little, but you can totally hear him over it unless it's deafening.

Do I just round up the toys and hide them every night? Seems kind of mean, since that's when he seems to want to play with them most. Is there some other way of curbing or sublimating this behavior?
posted by Knicke to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried playing with him before bed? If he gets used to running around a lot at an earlier time, maybe he'd mellow a little later.
posted by amtho at 8:07 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ah yes, the Mousie Howl! I know it well, and yes, sometimes it can be rather non-conducive to human sleep.

As for thwarting the howling, yes, as the previous commenter suggested, interactive playtime with him for 5-10 minutes before you go to bed would be the first thing I'd try. Does he have any toy-at-the-end-of-stick things, e.g., "Da Bird" or the "Cat-Catcher"?

My guess is that if you made a game out of letting him "catch" something (after pulling it around the room, making it pretend-hide behind table legs, etc.) he'd be able to get the Triumphant Hunter thing out of his system, and would then be less likely to go on a solo mission later that night.
posted by aecorwin at 8:21 AM on July 9, 2015

We have a geriatric cat who enjoys yowling into the crack under our bedroom door at 3 AM. The bedroom is on the 2nd floor so we solved this by blocking the bottom of the stairs with a pet gate each night as we head up to bed. He still yowls, but the sound doesn't carry enough to wake us up. Can you block his access with a gate or door so he still gets to play and holler, but not be such a nuisance?
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 8:28 AM on July 9, 2015

My cat does this under the bed. Which means he's closer when he does it and taking the toy away makes the yowling stop - but it does mean waking up to that under the bed at 3-4am. If I were not so lazy, I think taking the toys away would stop it. A friend does that and it keeps her late night yowlers from yowling late at night, but I'm just not that organized. If you are, it might be worth a shot.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:40 AM on July 9, 2015

I just want to say: don't bother with rounding up the toys. My cat does this with dish towels, hand towels, socks... anything he can find to drag around the house.
posted by something something at 8:45 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is the behavior that made the basement our cat-bedroom. Every night, the kitties go in the basement where their litter boxes, comfy sleeping perches, and favorite toys live. They can catch and howl to their endless delight all night long and we don't hear a blessed thing.
posted by cooker girl at 9:16 AM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

This might double your trouble, but my cat's nighttime yowling decreased when I got a second cat.
posted by desjardins at 10:53 AM on July 9, 2015

My cat does the same thing if we leave any toy mice lying around while we're asleep. Putting the toys away stopped the behavior, and she doesn't seem unhappy about it. It's like she thinks she's doing something good if she catches the mouse for us, and if there are no mice then she doesn't need to worry about alerting us that she caught one.

I try not to put more than one mouse out each day so I'm not left running around trying to find a bunch of them before bed. If I know a toy mouse is out but can't find it and go to bed anyway, my cat will still find it for me and meow about it in the middle of the night.
posted by bananana at 10:56 AM on July 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is 100% natural, healthy cat behavior. My cats went through a period of this, perhaps not a regular as your guy though. Our vet referred to the little stuffed animal they would carry around while howling a "fetish toy". They stopped as they got older. I really don't think you can do much about it other than separating him from your sleep area or sound proofing your door.

As an aside, I saw a documentary of snow leopards in Asia who did the exact same thing at night. Solitary howling and prowling. Sounded EXACTLY like my house cats did though likely louder.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:30 PM on July 9, 2015

Hmmm, I'm totally familiar with this! Tiger likes to find the spots with the most reverb--like a stairwell or a tiled bathroom. Usually, I just lay in bed and yell.
posted by feste at 3:50 PM on July 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

He is singing you the song of his people. I have found that trying to coax kitty (also and orange, what is it with the oranges) onto the bed for pets, warms, and sleeps helps.
posted by oflinkey at 4:21 PM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

My cat does the same thing, but not while playing with anything. He just walks around being LOUD. He's 9, so I accept it as a feature, but one thing that seems to make him stop is calling his name back at him.
posted by FlyByDay at 8:09 PM on July 11, 2015

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