How long will my cat be disoriented after spay?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it will vary depending on the individual cat and the type of surgery performed. Generally, however, it is likely that your cat will be disoriented for a few hours or a day following surgery. This is due to the fact that the anesthesia and pain medication used during surgery can affect their sense of smell and balance. In some cases, your cat may also experience nausea or vomiting. As with any surgery, it is important to keep your cat comfortable and hydrated following surgery.

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  • What Is Caterwauling and Why Do Cats Do It?

A cat with his mouth open, making a sound.A cat makes a sound with his mouth open. Photo by s_derevianko | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

  • Cat Behavior

What Is Caterwauling and Why Do Cats Do It?

Let's talk caterwauling — why is your cat making this strange noise? Any of these six issues could be at work — and here's what you can do about them.

  • By Angie Bailey Angie Bailey

  • , March 29, 2019 March 29, 2019






We're all familiar with our cats' everyday meows and other cat sounds, but when the pitch becomes higher, drawn-out, melodic, and "yowly," it's time to pay attention; this type of sound is known as caterwauling, and there's almost always a reason behind caterwauling — we humans just have to pause for further examination.Here are some of the reasons you might hear caterwauling and what you can do to help.

caterwauling.What exactly is caterwauling?nbsp;Photography by Valery Kudryavtsev/Thinkstock

1. Cats caterwaul when they are in pain.

Cats are known for hiding their pain, so if your cat starts caterwauling and there isn't an obvious cause, start with a veterinary visit to rule out anything medical. Cats of all ages can develop overactive thyroid and kidney disease, both of which can result in excessive vocalizations, including caterwauling.

2. Caterwauling may indicate the need to reproduce.

Cats that have not been spayed or neutered can make a lot of noise: females in heat caterwaul to attract a male, and males who have not been neutered caterwaul when they know a female is in heat.The best way to address this issue and help control cat overpopulation is to spay and neuter your cats.

Cats caterwaul to warn us of outside activity.

Most of us have heard our cats making caterwauling sounds, and when we go to investigate, we find kitty looking out a window with great concern.When we investigate further, we usually find another cat who has established himself or herself on our cat's "turf," which irritates the territorial feline master or mistress of the house. Remove the source of the agitation by closing windows and blinds to limit your cat's view of the "intruder."

4. Cats may caterwaul if they are insecure or vulnerable.

Cats are known to yowl when they are under psychological stress, such as insecurity or vulnerability, and some cats are naturally clingy and anxious when their human leaves the house — or even the room.When they feel abandoned, the caterwauling begins.

This is especially true when the family relocates, as the cat is unfamiliar with his surroundings and becomes even more stressed when he cannot find the comfort of his human.

If you know your cat is prone to these behaviors, anticipate his needs and reactions and reassure him of his safety by bringing him to bed with you at night so he knows you haven't abandoned him.Give him extra cuddles, especially if there are potential triggers such as company or a change in housing.

5. Cats caterwaul in order to get your attention.

Some cats caterwaul when they want or need something from us, whether it's food, water, physical attention, play, or any other reason.If you get up to give your cat treats in the middle of the night, he'll quickly learn that caterwauling = treats. Of course, it's critical to have him examined by a vet to rule out any serious reasons for the caterwauling; however, cats are sometimes like human toddlers, and they know how to train us.

6. Caterwauling could indicate that your cat is disoriented.

According to the ASPCA, feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD or cat dementia) affects more than 55 percent of cats aged 11 to 15 years old and more than 80 percent of cats aged 16 to 20 years old.Excessive vocalization and caterwauling can be just one of the symptoms of FCD, but it's important to be aware of all of them, especially if you live with a senior cat. Here's the ASPCA's cognitive dysfunction checklist.

Bottom line: don't dismiss caterwauling.

If your cat starts caterwauling, don't dismiss it as normal cat behavior; instead, investigate the cause and take appropriate action.Always consult a veterinary professional if you suspect anything serious, or if you have any concerns about your cat's health or behavior.

Tell us if your cat caterwauls.

Thumbnail: Photography s_derevianko | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

This article was first published in 2018.

Continue Reading: Let's Talk Cat Growling — Why Does Your Cat Growl and How Should You React?


  • Tags: BehaviorBehavior

Angie Bailey

Angie Bailey

Angie Bailey, an award-winning writer, podcaster, and humorist, is the author of Texts from Mittens and Whiskerslist: The Kitty Classifieds. She lives in Minneapolis with her fiancé and two cats, Phoebe, a sassy senior, and Janet, a teen kitty with tons of tortitude.


59 Responses to "Caterwauling — What Is It and Why Do Cats Do It?"

  1. Garland Puglisi

    9:20 a.m. on May 7, 2021

    love this


  2. Shemeka Shinoda

    May 7, 2021, 1:17 a.m.

    Amazing post! I'd like to learn more about this.
    Thank you, and please stay safe funny cat videos with cucumbers.


  3. Pingback: Six Problematic Male Cat Behaviors and What to Do About Them - Pet Pampers

  4. Pingback: Six Problematic Male Cat Behaviors and What to Do About Them - Pet Pampers

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  6. Beth Cameron

    14th of July, 2019 at 2:37 p.m.

    My neutered 9-year-old male Maine Coon caterwauls frequently; he wasn't adopted until he was six months old because he was so shy that he hid when potential families entered my vet's adoption room.I took him because my husband had recently died, and our Siamese female was very lonely without her Daddy; she immediately took the youngster under her wing and mothered him — until he grew to be twice her size.He is still shy and insecure, even though he likes to cuddle up next to me on the couch and sleeps with me at night. She is now 16 and arthritic, and growls at him a lot when he tries to play with her like they used to.But when he's stressed, he wanders around yowling, looking for her for comfort, not for me; crabby or not, she's still his mother, and he gets upset when she hides from him for a private nap.


  7. Pingback: What Is Caterwauling and Why Do Cats Do It? - KatCat

  8. Ed in NY

    at 12:04 p.m. on April 8, 2019

    Our girls alert us to their heroic deeds by dropping their "kill" (a toy hedge hog or stuffed mouse) nearby and expecting our effusive praise; this is a nightly ritual as we express our heartfelt gratitude for their efforts.


  9. Elaine

    at 8:56 p.m. on March 29, 2019

    My 9-year-old Russian blue began caterwauling every day after finishing his canned cat food, but we reduced it due to a weight issue.I know he wants more, and I'm sure he's saying it: More Food.


  10. Danielle J.

    3:06 p.m. on February 3, 2019

    We recently found a stray unfixed male cat who makes this sound all the time as he walks around the house and loudly calls out.I'm sure it's because he wants to go get some ladies, but that's no longer the case; we're still giving him time in case he had any owners looking for him, but if no one shows up in another week, he'll be released.This boy is being fixed, and I'm 95% confident that it will stop the calls and, most importantly, his stink.


  11. Nico’s Mama

    9:08 p.m. on January 26, 2019

    Our senior Maine coon yodels like hell after he poops... He IS on thyroid medication....


    1. Squiggles

      5:31 p.m. on March 29, 2019

      Related to Litterbox Euphoria.

      My Dingles does it after pooping because they feel so light and free that they have to share the feeling with everyone else.


    2. barbara

      9:25 p.m. on March 31, 2019

      Every day of his life, my male cat yelps before and after poop, then makes no noise.Then he runs like a roadrunner.


    3. Cindy Burchill

      8:38 a.m. on May 8, 2019

      My cat, who is half Maine Coon, has an overactive thyroid, and the vet prescribed Methimazole 0.25 ML every 12 hours.After a week, she began vomiting all night, which I later discovered was an allergic reaction to the medication.I'm concerned because she dropped from 19.6 to 12.3 pounds in a year, but I'm hesitant to try a new medication.I realize I can't just let her go untreated because she's so frail.What do you feed your cat, and has it aided him?


      1. Annie

        9:17 p.m. on August 24, 2019

        Cindy, that's very concerning; I'm hoping you've already returned to the veterinarian and described these symptoms.I wouldn't be afraid of trying a new medication because your cat can't sustain such rapid weight loss and requires medical attention.


    4. Annie

      9:12 p.m. on August 24, 2019

      OMG!!! Ours, too!! He also darts around after dropping a deuce, the fastest you'll see unless he's chasing a meal outside!!! He's 14 and on hyperthyroidism medication.


  12. Hilary WebleyParry

    9:39 a.m. on January 9, 2019

    My 15-year-old female cat has been making this horrible caterwauling sound for the past few weeks; she has an overactive thyroid for which she is on medication, and I believe she is partially deaf.I am extremely concerned; PLEASE ASSIST.


    1. belvoir admin

      9:54 a.m. on January 9, 2019

      Hi there,

      We recommend taking your cat to the vet; these articles may provide some insight, but please seek the advice of a veterinarian:


  13. Stella

    6:29 a.m. on December 13, 2018

    My 10-year-old cat began caterwauling before getting into her basket recently, and I'm left scratching my head.She doesn't always do it, but she often thinks about the basket before getting in, and she sometimes yowls the same low-pitched, dragged, and heartbroken meow she does when she wants my attention (i.e. waking me up, wanting the door open).I'm concerned that her bed is becoming too small (she chose it in the first place), but other than that, I'm baffled.


    1. belvoir admin

      at 8:42 a.m. on December 13, 2018

      Hi Stella,

      Sorry for the inconvenience; the following articles may be of assistance:


  14. Lisa Allen

    2:58 a.m. on November 25, 2018

    We moved in January, and my cat (she's 6) has recently started hollering, even when I'm in the same room; last night was the worst because she woke me up at 3 a.m. and wouldn't stop for nearly 30 minutes.I went outside, but there was nothing there, and opening the window didn't help either.
    So I pay attention to her, and when I leave the room, she does the same.Which is difficult because I work five days a week. We live in a two-story farmhouse, and the second floor is mostly mine and my cats.She was allowed downstairs until about a month ago, when she climbed onto my sister-in-law's bed, and our dog jumped on Trixie because that is his territory.
    So she spends the entire day upstairs; she was previously an outdoor/indoor cat, but since moving, she has been completely indoors.That hasn't been an issue.
    Should I take her to the vet and pay $100 or more, and she'll be fine, or should I do something else?


    1. Michaela Conlon

      9:56 a.m. on November 26, 2018

      Hi there Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment! Here are some articles about different cat sounds and what they mean that you might find useful:

      6 Cat Meow Sounds and Their Meanings
      9 Cat Sounds and Their Meanings
      Cat Screaming: What It Is and What It Means

      Here's another article with more information on cat meowing at night:

      Why Is Your Cat Meowing at Night and What to Do


  15. Pingback: What Do Cat Sounds Mean? |

  16. Linda Edelstein

    1:45 p.m. on September 11, 2018

    I have a senior cat with diarrhea who is under the care of a vet and on medication that helps, but she will caterwaul and zoom around after failing to use the litter box.I feel sorry for her because I imagine she's experiencing the kind of abdominal pain I occasionally experience from gas, but the vet says there's nothing else we can do for her.Otherwise, she's a cheerful, affectionate 15-year-old.


    1. belvoir admin

      9:03 a.m. on September 12, 2018

      Hi Linda,
      Sorry to hear your cat isn't doing well! We recommend staying in touch with your vet about this, and these articles may also help:


    2. Darlene

      8:59 p.m. on June 18, 2019

      If you suspect your cat is upset due to gas, try simethicone, which I gave to my babies.It saved my life because it was safe for cats and dogs.Always consult your veterinarian before attempting anything new.


  17. Pingback: What Is Caterwauling and Why Do Cats Do It? | CAT DOG BLOG

  18. CS

    9:49 a.m., September 9, 2018

    I understand this isn't a veterinary/behavioral cat site, but as a vet tech and shelter worker with a 19-year-old cat who has always been extremely vocal (her nickname is meow-meow!) I'm not sure there's a clear understanding here of the difference between meowing, loud meowing, and caterwauling, which I believe is very important to understand.Caterwauling sounds nothing like meowing but is a long, drawn-out, extremely loud wail - it is so loud, drawn-out, that it is impossible to sound anywhere near meowing and is actually typically startling - it is also a serious sign of distress that should be investigated - cats normally meow (I know!!) but caterwaul and can indicate pain, stress, senior cat problems due to arthritis pain, or cognitive dysfunction.It sounds like a scream, not like meowing at all - check out actual free sound samples


  19. Ellen Scordato

    June 18, 2018, 3:33 p.m.

    What's the deal with cats carrying their favorite toys around and then caterwauling over them? I see a lot of readers in this comment thread have cats that do this, and I see ours regularly carry a toy into a room or hallway and then make those caterwauling noises.I occasionally go to thank them for bringing me prey (ahem), but I'm not sure what to make of this behavior; what is its function in the wild or in a colony? Is it a kitten behavior that they got stuck in? It's so distinct!


    1. Michaela Conlon

      at 12:36 p.m. on June 20, 2018

      Hi there!

      Thank you for contacting us, Ellen. Here are some resources for learning more about cat sounds:

      Cat Screaming: What It Is and What It Means
      Cat in Heat Sounds — How Do Cats in Heat Sound?


    2. Ann

      9:44 p.m. on September 7, 2018

      My adult cats all do/have done this.It's normal cat behavior all their lives.


  20. Bonnie

    7:04 p.m. on June 17, 2018

    When my one cat is upstairs and I am not, she will caterwaul "Maaamaaa, maaaa, maam!" and I will say, "Mama is downstairs!" and then I will hear her paws plodding down the stairs.She'll come over and say, "Mam," as if to say, "There you are."


  21. Tom

    10:58 a.m. on June 16, 2018

    Oh, I forgot about the hairball yowl; my other cat, O'Nyx, has long hair, and I can always tell when she's about to hark up a hairball.


  22. Tom

    10:53 a.m. on June 16, 2018

    My cat, Aylin, caterwauls - but it's because she's found a toy and wants to play; if I'm in another room and she doesn't know where I am, I mimic her cry and she'll come running to me, toy in mouth.She drops the toy at my feet, and the fetching game begins. (I've never seen a kitty enjoy playing fetch as much as Aylin.)When kittens reach a certain age, they usually stop doing this.)


  23. Karen Kaback

    14th of June, 10:41 p.m.

    I adopted a 4 1/2 year old male cat that no one wanted because he was older and had been hit by a car; he acts like a kitten and is always looking for attention.He cries a lot. Please help!!!!


    1. belvoir admin

      15th of June, 8:39 a.m.

      Hi Karen,

      If giving your cat appropriate love and attention does not seem to stop his constant vocalizing, he may be in pain and you should consult with your veterinarian.


  24. Quynn Sainte-Peters

    5:07 a.m. on April 5, 2018

    My female cat is caterwauling because she is in heat; fortunately, she is an indoor cat, and the males who live with her are all fixed.
    Before you jump to conclusions, consider this: I adopted her from the street when she was 9 years old, and I talked with the veterinarian about getting her fixed, and the price would be over $400 due to her advanced age and the additional medical procedures they'd have to perform.I couldn't justify spending that much money on one cat over the care of the five others I have [she is the mama to four kittens, and papa has joined the group to complete the family] They are all fixed and strictly indoor cats.
    So, while she's in heat, I'll have to put up with her caterwauling, but that's okay because having her here is worth the minor inconvenience.I adore all six!


    1. Karen

      at 4:56 p.m. on April 12, 2019

      Please look for a low-cost spay/neuter clinic; neutering your cat usually costs around $50.It's certainly preferable to putting up with a cat in heat.


  25. Alex

    6:25 a.m. on February 4, 2018

    When one of my cats catches a 'prey,' he caterwauls and walks around with the toy in his mouth, making these noises.Could he be informing us that the hunt was successful, or warning other cats to stay away?


  26. Sharon Henry

    at 1:14 p.m. on January 29, 2018

    My cat catawauls at sunrise and sunset, as well as when he wants something, such as food or treats.He's always done this, but more so as he's gotten older.


  27. Carol Guler

    at 1:43 p.m. on January 20, 2018

    Cairo, our now-deceased cat, used to caterwaul when left behind, such as when our other cat Gibson was out for a walk on a leash with my husband; she'd start while perched on her window perch, watching outside.She'd also caterwaul when she was alone upstairs, almost as if she needed to hear her own voice.


  28. Kathy

    10:34 p.m. on January 18, 2018

    When my Walter wants food and doesn't like what's in his dish, he caterwauls; I mostly ignore this as long as I know it's just that he wants different food.I pay him extra attention, but I don't want him to get into the habit of misbehaving with the caterwauling in order to get food.
    Last night, after we were in bed, he started caterwauling after looking out the window and was restless for about a half hour until I got him to come up on the bed with me and cuddle with him. This morning, my husband went out early to take out the trash and there were cat footprints in the yard, so I'm pretty sure that's what he was caterwauling about.Tonight, I'm closing the blinds!


  29. Paula B

    9:54 p.m. on January 18, 2018

    My senior kitty, Belle, begins caterwauling about 10 minutes after I turn off the lights at night; I had no idea who it was at first because when I got up to look or turn on the light, she'd stop! Is this because she's afraid of the dark? She doesn't do it every night.


    1. belvoir admin

      Monday, January 19, 2018 at 8:51 a.m.

      Hello, Paula! You might find this link useful:


    2. Laura H.

      10:24 p.m. on January 19, 2018

      When I call out her name and tell her we're still there, she immediately stops...until the next night.


    3. Diane

      1:45 p.m. on August 28, 2019

      Is your senior cat yowling at night? It could be because she can't see as well as she used to and becomes disoriented. Try plugging in a couple of night lights and see if that helps.That way, she can see she's in her familiar surroundings and has nothing to worry about.


  30. Luna Starr

    7:02 p.m. on January 18, 2018

    Trish does it because she wants my attention RIGHT NOW, as do ours when they bring us gifts.


  31. Susan Blake

    at 8:44 p.m. on January 17, 2018

    All very interesting and familiar, thank you; now I can ignore her with impunity????????


    1. Julie

      at 11:14 a.m. on September 6, 2018

      That is not what was said. It depends on the situation, and yours may or may not be in pain.


  32. Janet

    6:32 p.m. on January 17, 2018

    This is exactly how my cat meows. I've never had a cat that sounded like this before, and it's especially bad when I leave him (he stands at the front and yells for me).But he's never had a cute moment meow.


  33. Carol Lowbeer

    6:10 p.m. on January 17, 2018

    For over 5 years - ever since I brought her and her sister home from the shelter - my alpha cat has caterwauled (along with the zoonies) about 3 times a week, usually after eating or using the litterbox.I assumed she was unhappy with her dinner or the litter box that night.

    The Caterwauling lasted about 5 or 10 minutes and was accompanied by "the zoomies" - racing around my apartment and eventually landing on top of her cat condo or another high object.

    I'm not sure why she caterwauled or zoomed, but she doesn't appear to be the worse for it!


  34. Angela

    6:05 p.m. on January 17, 2018

    I can't seem to find a link or anything that describes what this noise sounds like.


  35. Tyger

    Thursday, January 17, 2018 at 4:10 p.m.

    When my 15-year-old cat became ill, he had several seizures, and he caterwauled every time.It was unsettling, as were the seizures.


  36. Cat

    at 4:09 p.m. on January 17, 2018

    Ramses, my large smoke Egyptian Mau, only caterwauls in one case. We have a large cabin in the mountains where we spend several weeks at a time.Because we are gone for so long, I drive up and bring the cats to this house, which has a third floor with a loft (along with a couple of bedrooms and a bath).Ramses runs up the stairs to the loft (which overlooks the main living area) and then caterwauls, making a strange sound that sounds like a "rowrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrI often think he just likes the sound of his own voice! Or he runs up there and forgets how to get down. He will stick his head out through the bannisters that overlook the living room and holler.He'll stop if I go upstairs and get him.


    1. Susan Terry

      1:43 a.m. on February 11, 2018

      I love your comment and want to go on vacation with you; it sounds like a wonderful place. My Munchie cat will merrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrTayler, my other cat, simply says "meh."


  37. Bebe

    3:04 p.m. on January 17, 2018

    When my Bengal wants to play while everyone else is sleeping, his voice becomes deep and loud, as if an alien has taken over his body.


  38. Sonja

    at 12:16 p.m. on January 17, 2018

    Really interesting read! My cat seems to caterwaul for a few different reasons...when he has a fur ball and is about to bring it up, at night when he gets a little burst of energy and wants to play and get everyone's attention after they've gone to bed, and when he's carrying a toy to present as a gift. It's a very strange sound - not at all like a meow.


    1. Karen

      at 2:58 p.m. on January 17, 2018

      This is exactly what happens with our 10-year-old neutered male cat, who goes into the other room and "caterwauls" to his heart's content with his toys while we watch TV.At times, he brings them out to us, causing stress for my husband, who is then unable to hear the television due to all of the catetwauling! I find the whole situation very amusing! I adore my Leo and all of his unique habits!


    2. Angela

      10:42 p.m. on January 17, 2018

      Since she was a kitten, our 6.5 buff tabby/tort has "caterwauled," most often at night and always while carrying a toy; we call it her "old lady meow."

      How long after surgery will my cat be confused?

      Normally, your vet will use a general anesthetic to keep your cat unconscious and prevent them from feeling pain during surgery; however, the effects may take some time to wear off, causing your cat to be drowsy, lethargic, or disoriented for a day or two after surgery.a day or two after surgery.

      Is my cat's shakiness following anesthesia normal?

      In general, most young, healthy cats undergoing routine procedures are often groggy on the first day of anesthesia but return to normal the next day." If your cat is unusually tired or out of it and you can't rouse him easily, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice.most young, healthy cats undergoing routine procedures are often groggy the first day of the anesthesia but are back to normal the following day.” If your cat is unusually tired or out of it and you can't arouse him easily, contact your vet for advice ASAP.

      Do cats' personalities change after they've been spayed?

      Spaying or neutering your pet will not change its personality; if there are any behavioral effects, they will be positive (reducing unwanted behavior).Spaying or neutering will not affect your pet's affection or playfulness; in fact, for females, there is usually no change at all.. If there are any effects on behaviour, they tend to be positive (reducing unwanted behaviour). Spaying or neutering will not change your pet's affection level or playfulness. For females, there is typically no change at all.

      What is causing my cat to wobble after surgery?

      Getting Over the Effects of General Anesthesia The effects of general anesthesia may include temporary sleepiness or shakiness on their feet, which are quite normal and should fade with rest.A temporary loss of appetite is also quite common in cats recovering from general anesthesia. Effects of general anesthetic may include temporary sleepiness or shakiness on their feet. These after-effects are quite normal and should fade with rest. Temporary lack of appetite is also quite common in cats who are recovering from the effects of general anesthesia.