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7 Sounds My Cats Make in the Middle of the Night

Bedtime? Ha! My cats explore kitchen counters, howl, and dig litter-box tunnels to Wisconsin.

Angie Bailey  |  Mar 20th 2017


Ah, to enjoy a peaceful, uninterrupted night of sleep. Unfortunately, this is an impossible dream when it comes to overnights with my two cats. Don’t get me wrong — I love ’em to bits; I’ve just become accustomed to their midnight shenanigans that either prevent me from drifting off to dreamland or jolt me from a deep snooze.

Here are seven sounds my cats create while I’m hard at work trying to catch some Z’s.

1. Hacking

"Yeah, let me get to the rug with this one."

“Yeah, let me get to the rug with this one.”

You know that sound — that cough-cough-cough that’s a precursor to a pile of kitty vomit? Yeah, that one. We’ve all heard it in the middle of the night and had to make that difficult decision: Do I get out of bed and clean it up now? Or maybe I pretend like I didn’t hear it and let my partner get out of bed and do the deed? Perhaps we both ignore it and wait until one of us steps on it in the morning and thinks, “Damn it — I wish I would have gotten out of bed last night to clean this up.” Nothing says “Good morning” like stepping in a cold pile of squishy cat puke.

2. Litter-box scratching

"She just went to bed. I feel a poop coming on."

“She just went to bed. I feel a poop coming on.”

One of my cats’ litter boxes is located right outside my bedroom door, so it’s not uncommon to hear little paws digging away before and after taking care of “business.” When Cosmo visits the box, the situation is quick and orderly. Phoebe’s quite another story. I swear that girl’s trying to tunnel to Wisconsin. She digs and digs and digs and digs. And then she digs some more. If she ever gets to Wisconsin, I sure hope she brings back some cheese.

3. Hallway “hunting”

The fierce wildcat stalks its shiny prey.

The fierce wildcat stalks its shiny prey.

When my apartment falls dark, Cosmo sometimes springs into “hunter” mode. Thankfully, there aren’t any rodents scurrying around my place, but he does capture the kind of prey that looks like crinkle balls or catnip toys. And then, of course, he must howl, announcing that he has done his feline duty. He’s a total stud.

4. Rough-and-tumbling

"I'm gonna get you, sucka!"

“I’m gonna get you, sucka!”

Every once in a while, Cosmo and Phoebe get all Wild Kingdom in the middle of the night. Thankfully, they usually go right to sleep when I do, but sometimes they get in a mood. Even though they’re two small (well, Cosmo not so much) animals, I’d swear they’re a whole herd of wildebeests clomping through my place. They chase one another, crashing into boxes and knocking objects off tables. I’ve never stopped to check, but I suspect a full moon’s involved.

5. In-my-face meowing

"Here I am."

“Here I am.”

When Cosmo finally joins me in bed, he likes to walk around chirping these clipped little mews. He seems to have absolutely no idea what he wants, except to herald his arrival. Then he either demands to duck under the covers or hijacks most of my pillow.

In the morning, Phoebe’s the loud one and greets me with a very loud series of meows, whether I’m ready to climb out of bed or not.

6. Knocking things off the dresser

"You need more hair ties. Just sayin'."

“You need more hair ties. Just sayin’.”

Phoebe’s also the one who enjoys exploring the tops of surfaces, especially if they’re elevated. While I’m in bed, she occasionally hops on top of my dresser or wanders over to my bedside table. Then she sniffs everything, looking for highly swattable objects. This is why I sometimes awake and ask myself, “Where’s my lip balm? or “Hey — didn’t I leave a necklace up here?” I try my best to place these desirable objects in lockdown at night, but I’m just not all that diligent. Plus, what if my lips feel dry in the middle of the night? I like to have balm at the ready. The struggle is real, people.

7. Counter cruising

"I miss the butter."

“I miss the butter.”

In addition to bedroom surface exploration, Phoebe naturally gravitates to kitchen counters. I learned a long time ago that I can’t leave butter unguarded; however, there are sometimes dishes in the sink that I leave overnight. If I don’t rinse them well, she’s all over them. I can just picture her excitement upon finding a dish with a small spot of sauce stuck to it. I’m thinking many a casino goer feels the same way when the triple 7’s flash across a slot machine. Cha-ching!

What kinds of feline noises do you hear at night? Tell us in the comments!