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Vocalizing common in elderly cats

Vocalization or yowling is common in elderly cats for myriad reasons—including behavior and illness. Dr. Lee discusses possible causes and suggestions for treatment.

Vocalizing common in elderly cats

Q:Our 15-year-old cat has been crying loudly since his brother died. What can we do to quiet him?

A:Your cat may be crying because he misses his brother’s companionship. If that’s the case, he might enjoy the company of a new feline friend. If you think a new cat would help, invite a quiet, friendly adult cat to join your family. (Older cats usually don’t appreciate having an energetic kitten around to grab their tails.)

Is food available at all times? If not, your cat may simply be telling you he’s hungry. It’s also possible he wants attention.

Alternatively, he may have a painful medical condition, such as arthritis, which afflicts 90 percent of senior cats. Crying also occurs with hyperthyroidism, constipation, urinary tract infection and deafness.

Finally, some older cats vocalize, particularly at night, when they’re suffering from age-related cognitive dysfunction, commonly called senility.

All of these problems are treatable. Ask your veterinarian to evaluate your cat so a diagnosis can be made and treatment begun.

Editor’s Note: Many senior cats yowl at nighttime, disrupting their human family’s sleep. Fortunately, once the cause is identified, yowling responds well to treatment.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at

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