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Senior female cat trilling and howling all night

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
we took in an elderly female tabby cat named Mabel, she was found on the street but appears to have been somebody's housecat at some point. She started off with a host of issues. She had ringworm, a huge ear polyp, and was very skinny (she is small anyway but only weighed 4 pounds when we got her!) We got the ear polyp removed and have been slowly fattening her up. She has had a full blood chemistry and amazingly her stats are all mostly normal.

As she has recovered, she has started yowling a lot, mostly at night. She is already rather vocal, meowing at me when she wants food (which is always) and full of lots of weird grunts and loud purrs. This new vocalization is a combination trill and meow sound, which makes me think she is in heat. She hasn't been spayed, her original rescuer and a vet she talked to said it wasn't worth the risk to spay her. Of course, she is now much healthier.

Mabel is at least 15 years by my estimation, is it possible she is really in heat? i've always spayed cats, so I have little heat experience. do cats go through menopause or are they fertile forever? is spaying dangerous to an elderly cat, especially one who's been through so much? She came through the ear polyp surgery fine. Below is a photo of Mabel, she's a curmeddgeon!

post #2 of 16
How wonderful that you are giving this precious senior lady the love and safety of your home.
My little 3 year old trills often.
That sound make me do what ever she wants.

I hope that other members might have some usefeedback for you...
I just came to acknowledge what you are doing for Mabel.
post #3 of 16
Awww, Mabel is beautiful...

At her age it is more likely that she could be going deaf, which could make a cat more vocal OR she could also be going senile.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
i hope it's senility if nothing else! she is an odd duck anyway. My fear is that there's something really wrong with her. The 'increased vocalization' thing is on the list of criteria for hyperthyroidism but she had the T4 test and it was normal.

i guess if she was actually in heat she'd be nicer to me, which is definitely not happening yet if anybody else has encountered similar senior cat behavior I'd love to hear about it.
post #5 of 16
Originally Posted by Kailie View Post
Awww, Mabel is beautiful...

At her age it is more likely that she could be going deaf, which could make a cat more vocal OR she could also be going senile.
I tend to think she is going senile unfortunately. But it is a painless process in most cases. My best suggestion is you keep her in a small room/area. That way she will feel safe and secure. Hence that way she may quite her down some. But no promises on the smaller area making her quieter. Also since senility in cats like people tends to get worse with time, you might even need to eventually keep her in a bathroom at some point to keep her vocalization to a minimum.

I think it is great you adopted a cat like her. YOU ARE A VERY KIND PERSON .
post #6 of 16
Sami is 17 and while she is in overall good health, she too, is going senile. She used to yowl and howl late at night and she would if the TV was off. She stopped doing this once Parker and Buddy came into the picture. She now gets on the counters/deep freezer, which she never did.
She often walks around as though she is lost...and will do so until she finds one of us or one of the other cats.

But yeah, good on you for giving this old girl a loving home to spend her last days.
post #7 of 16
Another possibility is high blood pressure, which can be very difficult to take accurately while they are awake.
I did a goggle search ( cats high blood pressure yowling ) and several page options came up...
the link below is just one of them.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
high blood pressure?! man there are so many ways a cat can go wrong ... i'm taking her back to the shop in a few days to have her weight read so we'll see what's up. the vet said all her tests were normal except she has slight anemia. but she is recently from the street so the stresses of that time may be to blame.

i finally thought to look up youtube videos of cats in heat and senile cats and i gotta say what she's doing sound more like a cat in heat and less like the "i'm lost in my own living room" howl of the senile cat. but maybe that's just wishful thinking she is living in a smaller room (10x10 or so) and she has another senior cat friend, Gilda, to keep her company at least. Gilda is another story but doesn't have the histrionics of Mabel!

some videos i found:
Cat in heat (trill aspect is similar to Mabel's noise):

Senile cat (she's a little like this but not as forlorn):
post #9 of 16
Does she crouch with her bottom up? That's a sign of heat, too. Does she try to get outside? I know when we were getting Elsa healthy enough for spay she was an escape artist!!! And she was going into heat every couple of weeks. Come to find out, she had cysts all over inside her, which were producing the estrogen that set off the heats so often! for Mabel and you!

(PS, I adopted a senior cat at 14, and she lived another 6 years!!!)
post #10 of 16
She is a beautiful cat

If she hasn't been spayed that might be the problem. If she can't be spayed safely then I don't know what to tell you, because I've never dealt with an unneutered cat.

Could there be something else wrong making her meow like that?
post #11 of 16
So wonderful of you to have taken her in at her age At least she will live out the rest of her life with food and shelter
post #12 of 16
My sister acquired a cat who was about that old who'd never been spayed. She acted the same way- sometimes disoriented, always very needy. I've heard senility is much worse in cats who aren't spayed...if I had to go through heat my whole life, I'd be a little "off" too.

Glad she's found someone compassionate in her old age.
post #13 of 16
She's adorable.

I've had very old cats who acted like you describe. All were spayed/neutered, though.

I just learned to sleep through it. Or I would go get them and take them to bed with me. Then they stopped for a while.

Bless you for taking her in.

post #14 of 16
It likely is just old age senility but you mention thyroid tested did you have other blood work done?
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
we got her a full blood chemistry and everything was normal apparently. she seems in good spirits so i'll try not to worry about it too much. she isn't doing most of the other stuff associated with heat so maybe it's just OLCS (Old Ladycat Syndrome)! Thanks everybody!
post #16 of 16
I took in an unneutered 14yo and she did go into heat. Unfortunately because she had never been neutered, i lost her to mammary (breast) cancer, so I would ignore the person who said it isn't worth having her done, and book her in, it must be so frustrating for them to constantly cycle. If you/the vet havent already done so, I would check all her nipples for signs of cancer and be aware they can also get ovarian and uterine cancer, as well as pyometra (which is where the womb fills up with pus and can be fatal very quickly).

ETA - the oldest known mum cat on record was 20.
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