[catfilter] Why does my cat go into corners, look up, and meow?
January 31, 2007 8:43 PM   Subscribe

[catfilter] Why does my cat go into corners, look up, and meow? Three locations, 2-3 times a week, 9 years: Living room corner (behind the lamp), bedroom corner, studio corner. She'll do it for a 10 minutes sometimes, just looking up and meowing. Sometimes she'll get up on the coffee table and meow, but mostly it's in the corners. Why?
posted by Señor Pantalones to Pets & Animals (37 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You have mice. They're in the walls. Although you cannot hear them, your cat can.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:55 PM on January 31, 2007

What mikeand1 said. Or you have bats.
posted by mds35 at 9:06 PM on January 31, 2007

Or squirrels. If you have any trees close to your house, it's quite possible (I can, unfortunately, personally vouch for this) for squirrels to find a small opening in your house and make a home in your walls.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:17 PM on January 31, 2007

And she also senses that it freaks you out...if she has that type of sense of humor.

Could be mice, rats, bats, bees, wasps, squirrels or whatever.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:18 PM on January 31, 2007

Or there's a possibility that your cat simply behaves inscrutably.
posted by acorncup at 9:31 PM on January 31, 2007

Are there shadows in the corners? My kitten recently discovered them and has been throwing herself at the walls, trying to get to the mysterious dark moving things.
posted by ilyanassa at 9:51 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far. She's done this in five different apartments/lofts over nine years, and now we're on the second floor. Could it really still be mice? What an interesting idea...I hadn't thought of that...
posted by Señor Pantalones at 10:11 PM on January 31, 2007

Long ago, I was on good terms with the student neighbor and we left our joined apartments open to each other's animals during the day (while we were at classes).

Her cat did this, too. My two did not. Mine were middle aged and a kitten. Hers had done it at different apartments. (Her declawed cat also opened up all her kitchen cabinets, went inside, and pushed out all the drawers from inside, leaving the house loooking like a burglar had visited, but only in her apartment?)

This sounds like similar meowing behavior as your cat, but the differential nature of my experience speaks AGAINST mice, bats in the case of my neighbor's puss.

Having 12+ cats over the last 25 years or so (never more than 7 at once!), none of mine ever exhibited this behavior. When there WAS a mouse in the wall, they tended to collect, "watch" the noise, puzzle and hope, silently, sometimes for hours. (Note: this is how they actually hunt!) Perhaps you can invite a cat visitor over and see if two do the same thing. If it's mice, I guarantee they'll team up somehow to be attentive.

Bottom line... you've probably got a wierd cat with a cute little habit. It's best to just embrace it. As with so many other things cat, many behaviors defy analysis.
posted by FauxScot at 12:39 AM on February 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've had a couple of cats in my life do this. Neither time was it actually due to animals in the walls, simply because when there actually were animals in the walls (mice), they behaved in a completely different manner (much as fauxscot describes: patiently sitting very still and quiet).

My friend Ethan explained it best to me when he witnessed it for himself: "She must be getting something out of those walls that we aren't." Congratulations. You also have a weird cat. Welcome to the club!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:37 AM on February 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

My cat used to have one spot in the house where he would flip out, meow, and occasionally spray (despite being desexed). It was just in one spot in the house, and it remained even after the furniture was rearranged. I always figured that there must be some sound or smell there, but I doubt it was mice because it never moved in all the years I had him.
posted by tomble at 2:29 AM on February 1, 2007

My cat likes to get in the bathtub and meow. I think it's because he likes the acoustics. Maybe your corners have some echo?
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:12 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Could there be small insects that you can't see? I have known cats to sit and sing to nothing in particular -- nothing until I discovered a minuscule fruit fly or spider on the wall or ceiling, or a mosquito or tiny moth flitting about the rafters, or even a cobweb or spot on the wall that just looked like it could be something a cat would want to catch.

Try picking the cat up and see if her attention is drawn towards something she can't reach. If she easily gives up on the behavior, you're probably just disrupting her meditation, but if she uses the extra height you give her to get closer to something besides you, you probably have a little visitor you haven't noticed.
posted by pracowity at 3:35 AM on February 1, 2007

Best answer: Your cat is in love with the corners. Or is pining for the fjords.

"Weird cat" is one of the more redundant phrases known to man. My own cat will meow at anything, including absolutely nothing at all. I like to think that she's talkative, she has a lot to say. Sometimes though, she can be very insistent that there are injustices in the world, and they are coming from the bathtub. Just be glad, I suppose, that you have a good chance of predicting when your cat is going to spout off about the indignities of the world.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:39 AM on February 1, 2007 [9 favorites]

I'm on my second cat in my adult life. The first as my companion for 18 years. I'm only in the early stages with the second. They're all batshit insane, unless of course the behavior is obvious such as hunting, stalking, hungry, etc.

It sounds like your particular friend falls in the latter category.
posted by michswiss at 4:00 AM on February 1, 2007

Best answer: One of my cats does the same thing. I think it's because of the acoustics/attention getting. He has a VERY loud default meow (that's fairly deep for a cat - it almost has human voice qualities) and when done in the corner, it resonates all throughout the house.
If I'm not paying attention to him, he scoots to a corner and begins with the cacophony. If I continue to ignore him, he goes insane (random spastic-attack-butt-wiggle-attacking-the-air-of-doom type thing). While I want to make him into soup when he does this, the absolute cuteness keeps him from the pot.

I can sometimes shut him up by giving him a violent kiss on the head or twirling him. I can always stop it if I give him forced snuggles. Try petting her when she does this to see if she stops.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 4:47 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with thirteenkiller - I've had two cats who did this (one in the bathtub), in three different homes all without mice, and I think it's that they like the acoustics or something else related to the sound. Either that or they're communicating with the mother ship.
posted by biscotti at 5:05 AM on February 1, 2007

As if on cue, my cat just jumped on the kitchen table (where she's not supposed to be) and meowed at the wall. She'll do it anywhere and she talks constantly. It only happens when I'm on the computer, on the phone, or just not paying attention to her. So maybe it is attention getting as Cat Pie Hurts says.
posted by jdl at 5:45 AM on February 1, 2007

Best answer: Your cat goes into the corners because you have Hounds of Tindalos. I would suggest contact Miskatonic University in Arkham, MA for instructions on dealing with them.
posted by GuyZero at 5:52 AM on February 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Could there be small insects that you can't see?

I was going to suggest this as well. Our (male) cat sat in the corner of the landing looking up and making strange mewing sounds, occasionally standing up and batting at the wall; I assumed he was just doing the crazy-cat thing (I had a previous cat who seemed to see invisible Martians in the living room), but when I looked closer I realized there was a tiny spider way up on the wall. Stupid spider eventually wandered down close enough that Pushkin could get him; he's never forgotten the thrill, and every once in a while he stands in the corner and stares up, hoping to recapture the magic.
posted by languagehat at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2007

Best answer: Communicating with the mother ship. Cats are just weird like that.
posted by candyland at 6:58 AM on February 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

Has anyone thought that yon kittie might be picking up traces of the last feline occupant's scent in the corners of each successive place, and is looking for some company?

Whether or not kittie is lonely, she might be picking up the scent, and calling out for the owner of it.
posted by Adelwolf at 7:09 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Maybe she's looking for a way out, going to the furthest corners of her domain, and trying to get you to open a door, or something.
posted by scheptech at 7:23 AM on February 1, 2007

We, for many years, had an elderly cat who had almost totally lost her hearing. She loved to sit in the corner and meow loudly to herself - we think that she could somehow "hear" herself when she was in the corner in a way that she couldn't do anywhere else in the house.
posted by anastasiav at 7:48 AM on February 1, 2007

My cat will remember a spider for DAYS and will continue to go to that corner and look for it and meow.
posted by agregoli at 8:03 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I also suspect it is the memory of a moth or spider. Or pining for the fjords. Or just general felinity. Only one of my three does it, and it not only grates on my nerves but is also so mournful that I'm a jerk for finding it annoying.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:16 AM on February 1, 2007

My cat does this as well and I'm fairly certain it's because of the shadows cast by the walls and crown molding. Even though she's a normally pretty chatty cat, it does get annoying after a while. If it really bothers you, trying putting something in the corner so the cat can't get access to it.
posted by Nathanial Hörnblowér at 8:28 AM on February 1, 2007

I've lived with many cats in my life, and one of them did this. My housemates and I said she was talking to the astral beings.
posted by SomePerlGeek at 8:37 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Both my cats do this and have done it in many different houses. When we lived in apartments I thought they could hear other cats or people in the next door apartment, but when we moved into a brand new house, no mice or anything and they still did it, I decided it had no reason.

Honestly, I think they do it to freak me out and/or annoy me. Many, many hours have passed in my house with the following exchange:

Cat: MEEEOOOOOWW! (at corner)
Me: What?
Lather, rinse, repeat.
posted by teleri025 at 8:45 AM on February 1, 2007

I'm convinced thirteenkiller is right. Lots of cat's meowing is territorial (I am here this is my space) and I have heard cats out in their yards meowing to each other. Cubic corners have the property that they reflect any incident wave back in exactly the same direction that it came in on. So your kitty goes there, makes its claim and gets an acknowledgement. What could be more sastisfying?
posted by jamjam at 9:08 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Perhaps the cat is a ghost whisperer and is communicating with the spirits of the departed. Probably to urge them to completely destroy you, all Poltergeist-style. You should call some ghostbusters ASAP before it's too late.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 9:45 AM on February 1, 2007

Best answer: It's all very simple -- your cat is trying to alert you to the fact that you have greeblings.
posted by nonliteral at 11:16 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I once apartment-sat for some friends who warned me that the cats were likely to wake me up in the middle of the night by chasing and meowing at "the invisible ghost mice who apparently exist exclusively on the ceiling." So, you are not alone - many people are owned by insane LSD-using cats.
posted by phearlez at 11:19 AM on February 1, 2007

Best answer: I think enough evidence that cats are all insane has been posted. However, I want to suggest that your cat may also be a prankster. I've had six cats thus far, and two of them had this annoying habit of staring intently at a place on the ceiling or wall for minutes at a time. When I'd finally cave in and look at the place they were staring at, I'd see nothing, so I'd glance back at the cat who was now looking around nonchalantly as though they'd never been staring at anything. If they could have whistled to emphasize their nonchalantness, they would have. To this day I believe they were both practical jokers. ("Watch me make this human crazy! Have you ever seen the movie 'Gaslight'? Mrowr.")
posted by smashingstars at 11:45 AM on February 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

My cat often makes me think of a cat in Edmund Crispin (can't remember which book) who has "invisible enemies". Crispin's cat is rather stupid, but it does save the day.
posted by paduasoy at 1:46 PM on February 1, 2007

Best answer: All our cats do this. We also refer to it as "communicating with the mother ship."
posted by Wet Spot at 5:39 PM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This reminds me that $5 for a.mefi is a bargain. Thanks so much, everyone!

It's definitely not mice/bugs/etc.

I've come to the conclusion that it's pining for the fjords, communicating with the mother ship, invisible enemies, greeblings, LSD, and especially echoes rolled into one. We've often speculated it's the echoes, but I'll add the other stuff in there for good measure.

Thanks again!
posted by Señor Pantalones at 7:06 PM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: i really would mark these all "best answer" if i could, but i'm tired of clicking. thanks again.
posted by Señor Pantalones at 7:11 PM on February 1, 2007

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