“Why do cats cry like babies?” you wonder while watching your fluffy friend going about her business as if she didn’t practically pop your eardrums a couple of minutes ago.
Whether she was annoyed with you or overwhelmed because of something other than you, she definitely made a statement. But, why did that statement sound like a baby?
Truth be told, you would’ve reacted appropriately regardless of her preferred communication methods. However, you were taken aback by the fact that your four-legged friend suddenly sounded like she should’ve been of the two-legged variety.
Cats might not be able to speak human, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. As a matter of fact, there are TikToks and social media posts galore attesting to the fact that pets adore pretending that they’re us.
Haven’t you seen videos of dogs barking, “I love you?” Or posts of cats standing on their hind legs? So, you shouldn’t be that surprised when you notice your furkid imitating a baby’s cry.
And, there are a bunch of reasons why she might be doing that (more on that later). More times than not, she’s trying to get your attention and she knows that you respond quickly when a baby does the same thing.
Worry not, we’re bringing you everything you need to know about why cats cry like babies. We know you’re actually wondering whether your cat’s possessed by a baby ghost. Starting from the beginning, take a look at why cats sometimes assume human characteristics.
Do cats cry like babies to mimic humans?
Oh, your fluffer might be more of a copycat than you thought. Turns out cats don’t necessarily assume human characteristics when they spend a lot of time around humans. Rather, they pretend to do everything they see humans do because that’s how they appeal to both you and me.
Now, you might be surprised to learn that, considering cats have been nurturing their standoffish and detached reputation for ages. But pet parents have been known to form a close bond with pets – referring to them as children, even. We’re all guilty of that, right?
Consequently, cats have learned to observe the environment around them, pick up a couple of tricks, and use those tricks to get what they want.
Whether they’re looking for food, warmth, or affection, they make an array of sounds. And the famous cry-like-a-baby sound seems to be one that cats make to appeal to your nurturing instincts. How clever!?
Do cats cry like babies because that’s merely one of the many sounds they make?
We could spend the rest of the article talking about the cry-like-a-baby sound. Turns out, that sound has a name. Sure, there are many, many distinctive tones your curious creature produces. However, we’re pretty sure the one you’re getting scared of is what’s called caterwauling.
Strange as that might seem, a chatty cat can produce over one hundred sounds. Meowing, purring, hissing, growling, yowling, chattering, and chirruping appear to be the most common ones. And, there are plenty of others waiting to be discovered (and understood).
Now, caterwauling sounds like a crying baby because the pitch gets higher, and it resembles anything but a meow. To be completely honest, when a cat caterwauls, she sounds like she’s screaming from the top of her lungs.
That seems to be why many TikTokers post videos of their cats claiming they’re crying like babies. And sure, caterwauling does sound like that. And your cat probably produces that sound because she knows that’s what gets your attention.
But, even wild cats make these high-pitched noises, which means they might be more innate than we initially thought.
Whatever the case might be, there are numerous reasons cats caterwaul (or cry like babies). Whether that’s because they’re hungry or they saw something through the window, they’re going to make sure everyone knows. So, throw a glance at what we prepared for you.
Why do cats cry like babies, then?
1. Because they’re dramatic
Oh, cats know exactly what they’re doing when they make the sound of a crying baby to get your attention! They’re cunning creatures and they know the effect that a baby’s cry has on (most) humans.
On that account, they make the same sound hoping to trick you to give them food or offer a cuddle. And, to make matters even worse, cats often make that sound at 3 a.m. because that’s when they’re lacking attention the most.
Sure, the high-pitched yowl might be giving you nightmares and making you rethink your life choices. But, there’s nothing worse than encouraging damaging behavior because you think you’re doing the right thing by giving her what she wants.
The next time she attempts to play the same trick on you, occupy yourself with something else. Watch your favorite TV show, go outside for a walk, or pretend you’re sleeping. When you start to feel bad about ignoring her, you can always sidetrack her with a sudden movement or scream.
2. Because they’re hungry
Why do cats cry like babies, you ask? Well, nine times out of ten, babies cry because they’re hungry and they’re sending signals to the mother that they’re ready to eat. And cats do the same thing when they’re hungry. They meow, yowl, or caterwaul (depending on how hungry they are) and wait for you to do something.
Now, when you’re not that great at understanding a cat’s cues, you might mistake those sounds for crying. You might assume your cat’s weeping because she’s stressed out over something. Or that she’s whimpering because she saw something and she’s trying to warn you about it.
The more likely scenario is she’s just hungry. Give her a bite of your chicken nugget and check whether she stops. Trust me, the chicken nugget method works better than other means of physiological manipulation tactics you might have come across online.
3. Because they witnessed something
“She… She witnessed something?” Hold your cat whiskers. Before you start dialing Ghostbusters, make sure your cat isn’t seeing something you don’t. And no, we’re not talking about ghosts.
We’re talking about shaky shadows, flickering lights, and other creepy distractions that might make her stare at the ceiling and cry like a baby.
Come on, wouldn’t you yelp or cry out when you catch a glimpse of a shadow running through the kitchen in the middle of the night? Turns out cats can see way more than think because of something known as tapetum lucidum.
Of course, you don’t have to learn the term by heart. But it simply means that cats have better eyesight than you or me. For that reason, they might get scared of something they notice outside the window and start howling like they’re about to turn into a werewolf.
4. Because they’re feeling under the weather
Cats, wild or otherwise, don’t typically like to announce to the world when they’re feeling under the weather. They’re more likely to hide somewhere, wait for the storm to pass, and come out on the other end stronger and better than ever.
Or, at least that’s how they feel about the whole thing because of their natural instincts. But, domestic cats anticipate constant care, affection, and appreciation.
When they get sick, they expect you to help them out and cuddle them for as long as they’re feeling crappy. With that thought keeping them company, they resort to crying (caterwauling) to get your attention and get the process going.
On a more serious note, if your fluffy friend starts to meow more frequently (and more ear-splittingly) than before, you should check for other symptoms. Decreased appetite, changed behavior, weakness, and depression are signs that you should contact your vet and run some tests.
5. Because they become crazy at night
We know what you’re thinking. Now, you’re probably beating yourself up over the fact that you didn’t remember cats are nocturnal.
While that would explain the whole “cats are creatures of the night” thing, cats aren’t strictly nocturnal. Cats are crepuscular and they’re caterwauling during the night because they can.
First and foremost, crepuscular means that they’re most active at dawn and dusk. We tend to believe that cats are nighttime beasts because they tend to cause trouble while we’re sleeping.
But, apparently, not all cats do that. We were lucky enough to end up with kitties that don’t distinguish between “we’re sleeping” and “we’re trying to catch every crawling creature on the wall.”
Whether your cat’s nocturnal or crepuscular, chances are she’s crying like a baby because she’s trying to get your attention, despite your slumber. She’s acting like a baby, waking you up every two hours to feed her, play with her, and cuddle her while she falls asleep.
6. Because she’s trying to attract a mating partner
Oh boy, you’re spending your Friday night typing, “Why do cats cry like babies?” while your cat hasn’t been a baby for quite some time. We’re trying to say that there’s a chance your cat might be making those caterwauling sounds because she’s trying to attract a mate.
You see, when cats go through their heat cycle (or the estrous), they assume a set of characteristics that serve the purpose of attracting another cat. For example, they start marking their territory by rubbing themselves on furniture, pawing at the floor, and spraying (urinating) on different surfaces.
Of course, crying like a baby might be one of your cat’s ways of saying, “I’m single and ready to mingle.”
And, needless to say, she’s not necessarily trying to sound like a human infant. She’s caterwauling, but the high-pitched, drawn-out sounds can resemble a baby’s whine.
7. Because she’s old
We hate to break it to you, but your four-legged friend might be reaching old age. Cats tend to become louder and more vocal the older they are.
They might start meowing more frequently, making sounds they hadn’t made before, and demanding more attention. Depending on the breed and the breed’s life expectancy, your cat might start showing signs of getting older sooner than you’d expect.
Some things you might want to keep an eye out for are decreased mobility, weight loss, bad breath, changed behavior, disorientation, cloudy eyes, and appetite changes.
Among these signs, you might notice your cat meowing whenever you enter the room, whenever she does something, and whenever she wants your attention. Sure, some cats spend communicate whatever they’re feeling from the moment they’re born.
But, others might become more outspoken as they grow older. Hence, your cat might be crying like a baby because she’s getting older. So, you might want to throw a glance at her birth certificate.
8. Because she’s stressed out
Some pet parents rush to speak out against the possibility of animals having anxiety. But, there are studies galore attesting to the fact that cats can get stressed out and overwhelmed.
Of course, sometimes our fluffy friends choose to deal with such strong feelings by making sounds that could wake the dead.
Why do cats get angsty, though? They may have gone through past trauma or problems while growing up. And some breeds are more apprehensive than others.
Whether they’re naturally predisposed to anxiety or they’re affected by something that’s going on at the moment, cats can (and do) become swamped with uneasiness and consternation. Other than crying like a baby, your cat might start urinating outside the litter box, overgrooming, and even squeaking when you pick her up.
Make sure you observe her behavior and schedule an appointment with a vet or behaviorist when necessary. Other than that, provide your cat with the affection and attention she needs and she should be just fine. Good luck!