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Howling fits at night - HELP!

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

My wife and I have a 10-year old neutered male cat. He's a great cat in every regard except one:

Several times during the night, he will engage in loud howling fits. These last for 5-10 minutes, during which he will walk around the apartment howling, "Hrowww! Hrowww! HROWWW!!" over and over.

It's a serious problem because we can't get a good night's sleep. Often he will wake us up for at least 10 minutes, and sometimes I can't fall back asleep for 2 or 3 hours. I go through the whole next day exhausted.

This has been a problem for several years now, off and on. At one point we took him to the vet to get looked at, and the vet discovered he had elevated testosterone levels. (Around the same time, he had gotten into the habit of mounting our other cat, a spayed female.) The vet thought perhaps one of his testicles had not been peroperly taken out, and recommended surgery.

So he had surgery, and the vet did not find a testicle, but they did find some sort of hormone-producing tumor, which they extracted. The surgery took a couple hours and was very taxing on our poor cat. He didn't recover fully for about two weeks.

For the time, that stopped his howling fits (as well as the problem of mounting the female cat). Also, we moved to a new place, and for a while we thought the howling was over.

But he just recently started up again. It's a real nightmare. We've tried just closing the bedroom door, but 1) we like to have our cats in bed with us, at least when they're being quiet; and 2) he howls so loud I can still hear him through the door!

Does anybody have any experience with this? Any ideas on what might be causing it, and how to stop it?

Thanks,
Mike
post #2 of 39
Hss the vet ever done a senior blood panel on your cat? My Molly started doing this and it was her thyroid, which is very comon in older cats and easily treated with medication.
post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 
We've had him checked for thyroid conditions since the howling started, no problem there. He's about due for a vet visit though, so we'll have him checked again soon, just to be sure.

Any other ideas?
post #4 of 39
You said you recently moved........how long ago was that?Could there have been a female cat unspayed that lived there prior to you? Could he miss being at his "home"........your previous home. Maybe there is a female near you in heat? Or maybe he's just a vocal cat and likes to sing.
Good luck and I hope you can get a good night's sleep.
Our female has just started the meowing LOUD at night.......she goes in tomm. to be spayed as we think she may be coming close to a heat cycle.
post #5 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crittermom
You said you recently moved........how long ago was that?Could there have been a female cat unspayed that lived there prior to you? Could he miss being at his "home"........your previous home. Maybe there is a female near you in heat? Or maybe he's just a vocal cat and likes to sing.
Well, we had the same idea at one time. However, we've lived in three apartments in the past 3-4 years, and he's done this in all three of them. Maybe he's just tired of moving around!

I will say that he's quite a territorial cat. He's always been the "alpha male" in our household. (I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm somewhere below him on the hierarchy around here.)

I'm trying to use a pic of him as my avatar, but I can't figure how to upload the avatar; it doesn't seem to be an option for me.
post #6 of 39
I believe that you have to have so many posts in order to be able to use your own avatar.When you reach 5 posts, you can choose one that is provided here.
(If I'm not correct in this, would someone PLEASE correct it)
I'm sorry I wasn't of more help with the meowing problem

Here is some info I found on the avatars
Super Cat
700 posts
120 days in membership
40 stored PMs
39 additional avatars to choose from
Ability to upload custom avatar
80 Kb in uploaded attachments
Posting access to IMO, if over 18.
post #7 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crittermom
I believe that you have to have so many posts in order to be able to use your own avatar.When you reach 5 posts, you can choose one that is provided here.
700 posts for a custom avatar?? Wow. Not sure I'll live that long!

Anyway, here's a photo of the pesky little bugger:



His original name is Kashmir. That then evolved over time:

Kashmir -> Kashmeow -> Mr. Kash Meow -> Mr. Meow -> Misto Meow -> Misto!

These days we mostly call him Misto, unless he's causing trouble, whereupon we revert to his original name.

Handsome devil, isn't it? He'd be quite the ladies' cat if he still had all his equipment.
post #8 of 39
Thread Starter 
Well since everyone is screaming for more pics, back by popular demand, another pic of Misto. Here he is, perched on his throne (the :censor::censor::censor::censor:) and issuing various commands:



Anymore ideas for dealing with the howling problem?
post #9 of 39
LOL! He's gorgeous!

It may be necessary to try to stay up one night and observe his behaviour - to see if anything actually sets him off howling in the first place. Although, being a kitty cat he is likely to not howl at all the night you are up with him...

I'm interested to know - is there anything you can do to get him to stop? Is he doing it out of loneliness or boredom? Because if this is the case there's plently you can do to help those problems.
post #10 of 39
My mom has a similiar issue with their cat Maxx...no health issues, just whines throughout the night. She is checking into a cat behaviorist to see if they can make any recommendations...you may want to see if there are any behaviorists in your area.

Katie
post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeAnderson
700 posts for a custom avatar?? Wow. Not sure I'll live that long!
Oh, yes, you will! Have you become familiar with the term TCS addict, yet? BTW, I love those pics! Esp. the one of Misto "issuing commands"
post #12 of 39
I don't know if this will help at all, but Red Cat used to be rather noisy at night. The problem seemed to decrease considerably after I put a night light in the room where his litter box is and near his food bowl, though these days I try to hide the food bowls if there is anything left in them at night. Since they are on a weight control diet, there isn't usually anything left anyway any more.
post #13 of 39
lol
hahaha
that pic on the fridge is too funny
post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva!
I'm interested to know - is there anything you can do to get him to stop?
Actually, yes: If you loudly yell out his name: "KASHMIR!" he'll stop, at least for a few minutes. Of course, by that time you're totally awake, as is the spouse after yelling out the cat's name!
post #15 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by twofatcats
I don't know if this will help at all, but Red Cat used to be rather noisy at night. The problem seemed to decrease considerably after I put a night light in the room where his litter box is and near his food bowl, though these days I try to hide the food bowls if there is anything left in them at night. Since they are on a weight control diet, there isn't usually anything left anyway any more.
Night light, interesting, we'll give that a try. He's not fat, in fact he's on he skinny side and getting skinnier. (And yes, we'll have his thyroid checked soon.)
post #16 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1
My mom has a similiar issue with their cat Maxx...no health issues, just whines throughout the night. She is checking into a cat behaviorist to see if they can make any recommendations...you may want to see if there are any behaviorists in your area.

Katie
Yes, that's the next step I think, assuming we don't find a solution before then. I was thinking "cat psychologist" but unless you can put em on the couch and get em to talk, "behaviorist" is probably more accurate.

(He gets on the couch alright, but he usually naps then; "talking" is for 4 AM while marching around the apartment!)
post #17 of 39
Thread Starter 
Oh, and since this strategy for getting attention seems to work, here he is again - a close-up this time, straight off the cover of Tiger Beat:



I'm pretty sure the "M" on his forehead stands for Misto!
post #18 of 39
Wow he's sooooo gorgeous! I have a real thing for ginger kitties, and he's just beautiful.

If yelling his name gets him to stop, then he sounds like he needs some kind of distraction. Have you tried some concentrated, interactive playtime with him before bed? There's so many great toys on the market that will wear him out (I mean really wear him out) and mentally stimulate him as well so he may not feel the need to march around the apartment yelling the place down at 4am.

Also, have you considered getting another kitty for a friend for him?

Don't forget, cats are nocturnal, and he sounds like a highly sexed tomcat wanting to establish his dominance and territory. That's what he'd be doing if he were an outdoor kitty letting the others in the neighbourhood know who's boss. You need to alter his body clock, although at his age it will be hard, but it can be done. You need him to sleep at night and be awake during the day. There's great ways of doing it if you're willing to put in the work, and it certainly sounds like you are!
post #19 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva!
If yelling his name gets him to stop, then he sounds like he needs some kind of distraction. Have you tried some concentrated, interactive playtime with him before bed? There's so many great toys on the market that will wear him out (I mean really wear him out) and mentally stimulate him as well so he may not feel the need to march around the apartment yelling the place down at 4am.
That's a good point; yes, we have quite a few toys, and we really ought to use them more often. We used to play with him all the time when he was younger. These days, he'll play for a minute or two, then he gets bored. I'll see what we can do though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva!
Also, have you considered getting another kitty for a friend for him?
We do have a second cat. But they rarely play, they barely notice each other most of the time.

Misto also had a half-brother most of his life; unfortunately we lost him to kidney disease last winter. (Misto's howling habit goes back way before that event, for those of you who may think he's pining for his brother.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by KitEKats4Eva!
Don't forget, cats are nocturnal, and he sounds like a highly sexed tomcat wanting to establish his dominance and territory. That's what he'd be doing if he were an outdoor kitty letting the others in the neighbourhood know who's boss. You need to alter his body clock, although at his age it will be hard, but it can be done. You need him to sleep at night and be awake during the day.
I think this is a very good analysis, and much of what you say is spot on. He is highly sexed (despite being neutered), and he definitely lives a nocturnal lifestyle. But my wife and I both work during the day, so there's not a lot we can do about it.

A couple more background facts: He's actually a partly outdoor cat. We moved into this apartment in large part because we have a fenced-in back yard area from which he cannot escape. And there's a cat door, so he comes and goes as he likes during the night.

At first I thought this would eliminate the howling problem, since he would have something to keep him from getting bored. But that doesn't seem to be the case, and he doesn't seem bored at night. He loves being outside, and he's always very alert and excited there. Several neighbors have cats, and he's practically obsessed with guarding his territory from them.

It may well be loneliness though. It sure sounds that way -- the howling is kind of a plaintive wail. At times he sounds like he's in pain. Before his last surgery, he would get really deep-throated and husky; now it's high pitched and somewhat whiny. Sure is loud though, whatever other adjectives you can throw at it.

You're absolutely right about the sleep schedule though. When I'm here, I see that he's crashed out all day long in his special hiding place where nobody can bother him. I suppose that instead of him waking us up, we should turn the tables on him! I only wish I could be here all day long to do it, but I just don't have that much free time.

Thanks for your advice, in any case, and I'll give some thought to how we might address some of these issues.
post #20 of 39
Thread Starter 
Let me add one more piece to the puzzle here:

Lately Misto has been licking off all the fur on the backs of his front legs. He has had this problem for some time now, but it seems particularly bad now. What does this indicate?
post #21 of 39
My male 10yr old neutered cat Jack, has been doing the same thing since he was about 3....sometimes I would come out for a look, and found that he would have a toy mouse or something in his mouth, just talking (howling) with these things in his mouth...lots of lost sleep here....But, over the past few years, I think he is just searching for me, as soon as I call his name from the bedroom, he comes running for a few rubs, and we both go back to sleep together again....
I love your kitty pics.
post #22 of 39
Compulsive licking and removal of the fur down to the skin is usually an indicator of stress.
This in conjunction with his howling at night, could mean he has some emotional thing going on.

Seems like you're getting this thing narrowed down.
post #23 of 39
I once had a beautiful little black female who did the same thing. She'd walk around the apartment crying plaintively early in the mornings. Fortunately we all thought it was cute -- my son-in-law called her Catsy Cline because she went out walking after midnight!

BTW we didn't have to yell at her to get her to stop, we could just call her name a few times and she'd stop like she was listening to see what we had to say. Then she'd start her song again.

We lost her to cancer and she didn't stop singing until she was very sick.
post #24 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Bengals
Compulsive licking and removal of the fur down to the skin is usually an indicator of stress.
This in conjunction with his howling at night, could mean he has some emotional thing going on.

Seems like you're getting this thing narrowed down.
I was thinking either stress or boredom, but...

What could he possibly be stressed about?

He's got the perfect life here. A stable, regular routine, he gets to go outside in a confined area where he can't get out into traffic or fight with other cats. We've got loads of cat towers, places to go, hide, hang out, sleep etc. etc. He gets several feedings of deli-quality turkey and roast beef every day (this in addition to his normal diet of cat food).


Man, I wish I had it as good as he does!
post #25 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by katie=^..^=
BTW we didn't have to yell at her to get her to stop, we could just call her name a few times and she'd stop like she was listening to see what we had to say. Then she'd start her song again.
Exactly - He'll stop for a minute or so, then start up again.
post #26 of 39
I know you've probably tried just about everything by now. I'm wondering if he's calling for everyone to get up, since he's up. Could be he's lonely.
I say this, because one of our male bengals does this. About 3 to 4 am, everyday, he wakes up and everyone else is sleeping, to include the other bengals. He then walks around lamenting about it. I've gotten up a few times and he's all happy about it and stops hollaring right away.
Now, if I remain in bed and yell at him to be quiet, he usually stops and will wait an hour or so to start up again. I get up at 5 am anyway, so he's a good alarm clock.
Maybe your guy is doing the same thing and the reactions he's getting are making him stress out to lick his fur off?
Cat behavior is really difficult to figure out sometimes! I'm just taking a stab at a guess here.

I don't know if I missed this in the thread, but is there any possibilty the tumor, which caused the first episode, has grown back?
post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai Bengals
I know you've probably tried just about everything by now. I'm wondering if he's calling for everyone to get up, since he's up. Could be he's lonely.
I say this, because one of our male bengals does this. About 3 to 4 am, everyday, he wakes up and everyone else is sleeping, to include the other bengals. He then walks around lamenting about it. I've gotten up a few times and he's all happy about it and stops hollaring right away.
Now, if I remain in bed and yell at him to be quiet, he usually stops and will wait an hour or so to start up again. I get up at 5 am anyway, so he's a good alarm clock.
Maybe your guy is doing the same thing and the reactions he's getting are making him stress out to lick his fur off?
Cat behavior is really difficult to figure out sometimes! I'm just taking a stab at a guess here.

I don't know if I missed this in the thread, but is there any possibilty the tumor, which caused the first episode, has grown back?
I had the same thought myself....or maybe another one!
Linda
post #28 of 39
Yes, as I was reading all the replies, I was worrying that he might have a recurrence of the tumor. I surely hope not, but he should be checked thoroughly for that.

The other thought that occurs to me is what I suspect Hissy might say about the howling if she were here: that your kitty may be smelling the "markings" of other males prowling around outside your house. I'd never heard of this, but Hissy has diagnosed it a few times here on the board.

He's a beautiful boy! I hope he turns out to be just fine...
post #29 of 39
at least he is walking around the apartment not sitting on your head. Salem snuggles on my shoulder and just as im dozing off he starts howling right in my ear. he will do this a couple times a night specifically at 2 am and again at 4 its like he thinks we should get up but all he does is howl till i wake up then stops its very aggrevating expecially when im having one of those nights wheres its 330 before i can get to sleep
post #30 of 39
I thought somewhere I read that obsessive over-grooming can also be another of the signs of a high thyroid. I'm waiting for a thyroid panel back on my oldest cat, and she's been doing the over grooming recently too. I also got some advice from Pat & Alix about getting actual levels of the thyroid, because if it starts creeping up, it can still be within "normal" levels but be a problem to the kitty.

With the yowling and losing weight, it sure sounds suspicious.

Oh, has anyone suggested Feliway or any other feel-good pheremone that you can spray/plug-in, in case it is behaviorial? That might help...good luck.
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