catYou might think of it as the “witching hour.” It’s that magical time at night your kitty parades around the house, singing the song of his people at the top of his lungs. Maybe he or she even has a toy in tow. Have you ever wondered what exactly causes cats to howl at night?

Calling for a long lost friend

There are many reasons why cats vocalize. Many times, it’s to communicate with their pet parents that they’re hungry or that they want attention. Some vocalizations are reserved for other cats, though. Night-time howling, or “night calling,” has been observed in cats who used to live in a larger group of cats. Some believe that the kitties are trying to get in touch with someone they used to know.

Health and aging

Howling that happens both day and night can actually be a symptom of cognitive dysfunction and other serious illnesses, especially for older cats. If you senior kitty is a night howler, try to figure out if they also howl during the day. You may only notice it at night if that’s when you’re home. Likewise, if your cat stays outside of your bedroom while you are sleeping because they feel disoriented without you. Having someone check on your kitty during the day can help you solve that mystery.

How to help

After you’ve taken kitty to the vet and you’re sure he or she has a clean bill of health, Dr. Liz Bales suggests looking to nature for ways to solve the night howling conundrum. In an advice column for the Catington Post, Dr. Bales writes, “Cats hunt between 9 and 20 times a day, both day and night. So, it is very normal for your cat to be awake, active and asking for food at all hours of the night.” She goes on to suggest that hiding a portion of your cat’s meal throughout the night can help satisfy that natural instinct to hunt at night.

Have you ever wondered how your cat behaves while you’re away? Hire a Katie’s Kitty pet sitter! Our sitters are available for overnight stays as well as visits throughout the day.

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by The Grim Athiest on flickr