Reason Why Cats Scream Intermittently

"Look, dog, I see other cats outside and I scream. That's just how it is."
i Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images

Your cat's intermittent screaming probably makes your home a convincing fright house around Halloween, but all that screeching has a way to drive you mad. Your kitty's probably angry at something, in heat or suffering from an illness, although some cats screech when you dare not give them your attention.

Anger and Fear

Maybe nothing equals the fury of a mother scorned, but place yourself within earshot of an angry or frightful cat and you’ll find the resulting scream sure comes close. When your feline experiences something she hates or is terribly frightened of, she may respond with a blood-curdling yowl that tells another animal to back off or informs you that she’s awfully scared. You’ll often hear these screams if you place her in an unfamiliar situation, such as shuffling her into a crate, or if other pets or wild animals are around. Even if she’s used to your other pets, she might let off an occasional scream, particularly if she’s ornery or stressed.

Illness and Aging

Anytime your kitty injures herself or falls ill, she’ll probably let you know. In a lot of cases, intermittent screaming from illness or injury stems from specific situations that bring about lots of pain or discomfort. For example, suppose she slices her paw. When she puts pressure on her paw, she may scream out in pain. If she suffers from a urinary tract infection, she’ll cry out when peeing. The effects of aging, which bring about various illnesses and medical conditions, such as confusion, can also cause your feline to scream occasionally. For instance, WebMD notes that some senior cats who wake in the middle of the night become disoriented and yowl in response. Nightlights can help your oldie regain her bearings.


If your kitty isn’t spayed and you’re unsure of when she’ll go into heat, don’t worry: her intermittent screams will inform you. Her occasional screams will turn into incessant screams as her heat cycle continues. If your kitty’s in heat, she’ll also have an increased appetite and love on you considerably more.

Other Reasons

Other reasons for your kitty’s intermittent screaming can include hunger, thirst, need for attention, difficulty reaching her litterbox and general stress. However, in most cases, these situations will typically lead your cat to meow rather than scream. But some cats do scream instead, especially if they’re extremely stressed. For example, suppose your cat slept in your bed her entire life, but you recently brought home a new dog who barks at her if she enters the room. She may scream out at night because she’s very stressed and upset about not sleeping with you.

What To Do

Try to identify any obvious reasons for your kitty’s screaming tendencies. If the problem stems from your other pets, attempt to condition the animals to accept each other. This is often difficult with pets who already do not tolerate one another, but making good things happen in each other’s presence -- such as feeding them treats when they’re around one another -- can help. You may need to seek help from a certified cat trainer. If your kitty’s screaming because she’s in heat, spaying her will stop the yowling and save your ears. If she’s screaming because she wants attention, don’t give her attention until she stops. If you can’t pinpoint the culprit, or you believe it’s an injury or illness, make a vet appointment.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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