Cat Moaning: What It Means & What To Do

Mar 31, 2024 | Cats & Kittens | 3 comments

Written by: Alex Ramsey. ✓ Medically verified by a licensed veterinarian: Mykhailo Ozmenchuk, DVM. Explore our editorial process.

Caterwauling, sometimes called cat moaning, is a mysterious and captivating sound characterized by a unique blend of moans and yowls. This peculiar vocalization has long fascinated and puzzled cat owners, highlighting a distinct aspect of our pets’ communication abilities.

What Is Caterwauling or Cat Moaning?

Diving deeper into the concept, caterwauling is a specific vocal behavior unique to cats. It’s marked by an eerie combination of yowls, meows, and moans, resulting in a sound that captures our attention and curiosity. Why do cats engage in this mysterious vocalization? It’s their way of expressing emotions and needs, from the urge to mate to the declaration of their territory.

Causes Why Cats Moan

Cats are quite the chatterboxes, with caterwauling being a standout in their vast vocal repertoire. This intriguing behavior serves several purposes, all fascinating glimpses into the feline mind.

Mating Calls

First up, mating. When a female cat is in heat, she’ll let out these distinct caterwauls to signal her availability to nearby males, who might respond in kind. It’s their natural way of connecting for reproductive purposes, though it can be quite the symphony to witness for us humans!

Territorial Conversations

Cats are also sticklers for personal space. If another cat dares to tread into their turf, the ensuing caterwauling is a loud, vocal boundary marker. It’s their way of saying, “Back off, this is my place!” This can lead to intense standoffs, all mediated through these powerful calls.

A Way to Chat

Caterwauling isn’t just for the big stuff; it’s also a day-to-day communication tool. Whether they’re feeling peckish, under the weather, or just want some cuddles, cats will use this method to get our attention. The trick for us is to learn what each caterwaul means.

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Health Alerts

Lastly, caterwauling can be a red flag that something’s wrong health-wise. If your cat suddenly ramps up the volume or frequency of their caterwauling without an obvious reason, it might be time for a vet visit. They could be in pain or dealing with something needing internal checking.

Cats moaning

Chirps and Yowls: What Does it Mean?

In the wide array of sounds our feline friends make, chirps and yowls stand out as particularly expressive vocal cues, each serving its unique purpose in cat communication.

Chirping: A Call of the Wild

When your cat chirps, it’s often while they’re perched at a window, watching birds or squirrels. This sound is thought to be an echo of their wild instincts—a way to mimic the chatter of prey to either lure them in or express their excitement and frustration at not being able to chase. It’s a fascinating glimpse into your cat’s inner hunter.

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Yowling: Expressing a Range of Emotions

Yowling, on the other hand, can be a bit more complex. It might signal your cat is distressed—feeling lonely, anxious, or even in pain. But it can also be a way for your cat to say, “Hey, I’m here, and I need some attention!” Understanding the context and your cat’s body language is key to deciphering what they’re trying to tell you with their yowls.

The Language of Cats

These vocalizations—chirps, yowls, caterwauling, and moans—are crucial to your cat’s communication toolkit. They use these sounds to express a range of emotions and needs, from excitement and happiness to discomfort and distress.

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As cat owners, tuning into these vocal cues and understanding what our cats are trying to communicate is essential. It’s not just about responding to their needs but deepening our bond with these wonderfully expressive animals. Recognizing and respecting their ways of communication makes us better, more attentive companions.


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Is caterwauling normal for cats?

Caterwauling can be expected in certain situations, such as during mating behavior or territorial disputes. However, excessive or sudden caterwauling should be investigated, as it could indicate underlying health issues.

How can I stop my cat from caterwauling at night?

To reduce nighttime caterwauling, consider spaying/neutering your cat, providing plenty of playtime and mental stimulation during the day, and creating a calm and comfortable sleeping environment.

Why does my cat chirp at birds but never catch them?

Chirping at birds is an instinctual behavior that mimics the sounds of prey. Cats may do this out of excitement or anticipation, even if they don’t intend to catch the birds.

My cat yowls when I leave the house. Is this separation anxiety?

Yowling when you leave can be a sign of separation anxiety. For guidance on addressing this issue, consult with a veterinarian or a professional animal behaviorist.

Can caterwauling be prevented through training?

While you can’t completely prevent caterwauling, spaying/neutering and positive reinforcement training can help reduce excessive vocalizations related to mating behavior or territorial disputes.



  1. SmartCats

    sometimes it seems to me that my cat is trying to speak human language because she makes very uncat sounds

  2. Sarah M.

    I had no idea that my cat’s moaning could mean so many different things. This article helped me figure out that she’s probably just lonely when I’m at work. Time to get her some more toys and maybe a companion!

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