What is the Cats Crying at Night Superstition?

I’ve heard many superstitions in my time, and generally, I find them quite interesting. I love to look at the history behind them and understand how and why they first came about. Over the years I look at how superstitions change until they often become something quite different from the original superstition!  One such superstition is related to cats crying at night and what this is supposed to represent. So, why do cats cry at night?

The cat crying at night superstition

What is the cats crying at night superstition? An old superstition says that a cat crying at night outside an ill person’s home signifies their death is imminent. Cats have always been linked to witchcraft and evil spirits which probably explains how this superstition originated. If a cat cries at night some still think of this old wive’s tale.

There are many variations of this though. Another myth states that the cat must be on the roof whilst crying. Another claims the ill person must be lying in bed at the time. They all have something in common though (apart from not being true): all mention a cat that’s crying and someone who’s not very well. So, let’s take a look at this in more detail to try to establish why the cat might be crying in the first place and try and ascertain where the superstition might have come from!

Cats Crying

What is the Cats Crying at Night Superstition?

If you hear crying cats, it’s okay at first, you put up with it. But if anything is repeated enough times it becomes annoying. Well, not everything. I guess if someone was to give you a new supercar every Saturday afternoon then that wouldn’t be annoying, would it? Not this though. You love your cat, but you need to get to the bottom of this. Are you doing something wrong? Is it in pain? I hope this post will help you find out why your cat is crying at night and whether there’s any truth in the superstition attached to it! So, if you’ve heard of the ‘cats crying at night superstition’ – then read on!

By the way, if you’ve wondered whether cats can actually cry – find out the truth here (opens in a new window).

It’s NOT True

Okay, so you may have gathered from my sarcasm that I don’t believe in superstitions. There are superstitions tied to this and whether you believe this stuff is of course up to you. But, just as a reminder, it’s the 21st Century! We’re basically living in the future right now and superstitions are generally a thing of the past, thankfully. However, some are interesting to study for historical (and entertainment) reasons.

One of these superstitions is that if a cat is found to be crying outside a house when a sick person inside, it was thought to be a bad sign for the sick person! Another similar one to this says that the cat needs to be up on the roof of your house for it to be a bad omen for the sick person inside.

Another superstition suggests it’s bad luck if you hear a cat crying just before you set out on a journey. The origins of a lot of these superstitions seem to emanate from China but honestly, we don’t really know in this case.

What Are the Facts About the Cats Crying at Night Superstition?

The reason you searched for this could be that your cat is exhibiting some of these somewhat annoying traits. There is a reason why your cat is crying at night however and it is your job to get to the bottom of it, which you will with a bit of investigation and hopefully some pointers that you’ll find in this post.

It is most likely that there are psychological reasons behind your cat’s behavior, so let’s examine the possible root causes related to this.

Anxiety In Cats Which Causes The Crying?

If you haven’t had your cat for very long or if you bought a kitten then the reason could be associated with separation. The cat may cry as it has been separated from its mother and/or littermates. It may be lonely and have feelings of loneliness associated with this separation. As sad as this may seem, and it is certainly sad, you can do something about it and it shouldn’t last long. Give them your love and attention.

Yes, this may mean at 3.30 am on a Tuesday morning when you have to get up for work in a few hours. But your little kitty doesn’t know this (although knowing cats as I do, I’m not sure they’d care if they did know it). Talk to them, make silly, comforting noises in front of them. Find them somewhere warm and safe which is near you where they can curl up and sleep. A good suggestion would be a simple box with an open top. Cats love to feel protected and often if you put a box down they’ll jump right into it, they love the four ‘walls’ around them when they get in, it makes them feel safe.

Similar feelings can occur in cats that have recently lost a sibling or a friend they’ve spent a long time with. You may find they cry for a long time, waiting for an answer, but never getting one. It’s sad, yes, like the above but this is life and it’s fixable. Using the above caring nature and attention will soon cheer your cat up and the crying will stop naturally.

You may find a cat cries if they’re not getting enough attention from you. They’re not stupid. If they cry and you give them attention then they know what to do to get it. I know this contradicts the earlier statement about giving them attention when they cry but it’s a very delicate balance and you know your cat. If you’re giving them all the attention they need during the day then it’s unlikely they’ll be crying during the night for your attention.

Is the Cat Unwell?

What is the Cats Crying at Night Superstition?

There can, of course, be other reasons why your favorite little animal cries at night, they may not be very well. Your cat may be trying to communicate with you that something is wrong and they need your help. If your cat is crying and this is accompanied by a loss of appetite and/or not drinking then you shouldn’t waste any more time and get them checked out by your vets. There could be numerous reasons why your cat doesn’t feel well. Are they moving around as normal? Limping? Have a look around them to see if you can see any obvious problems with their limbs and when you stroke them it should be obvious if there are any areas where they would prefer you wouldn’t touch.


If your cat is female then are you sure they’re not in heat? Or if your cat is a male then maybe they want to mate and they can smell a female in heat. There are some tell-tale signs that your cat is in heat, but they aren’t definitive. For instance, if you notice them rolling around on the floor and purring a bit more than usual then this could be a sign. Also, are they more affectionate towards you? In doubt, take her to the vets to find out for sure!

Old Age

When a cat becomes old it can experience changes with its senses. It may start forgetting things and become confused in certain environments. These feelings can understandably unsettle your cat and it may simply be crying out of confusion. Despite what you might hear, there are things that you can do and even some therapy that can be provided. Have a chat with your vet about this. It is possible to help the situation but the results can be a little unpredictable as to whether they will work or not.


What is the Cats Crying at Night Superstition?

Could it be true that the answer is as simple as this? Your little (but very loud) bundle of fur is just hungry? It’s unlikely maybe but definitely possible. Give your cats some food just before you go to bed. Otherwise, you may find that after a few hours they go for a snack and there’s nothing there. So, they tell you about this in the only way they know how! Which is going outside, getting on the roof and meowing as loudly as they can. Hmm now I think about it, this probably isn’t very likely, is it? Surely if they were hungry they’d just meow in your face just after you get to sleep?


The cat’s cries will not usually last long and typically the reason will be discovered and things will get back to normal. You’ll be getting that much-deserved sleep once more in no time! Look out for signs of something more serious and if in doubt, get your cat checked out by the vet. So if you’ve heard of the ‘Cats Crying at Night Superstition’ – then more often than not, there’s nothing to worry about! Just give them what they want and everyone will be happy 🙂

But where did this superstition about cats crying originally come from you may still ask? Well, I’m sorry to disappoint – but no one, despite what they may claim online, actually knows the answer for sure. It’s for to speculate but just know that this is what they are doing – speculating!

One final thing, maybe they are crying at night as they are bored. Make sure you play with them more during the day – if you want a sure way of keeping them happy then take a look at this toy over at Amazon (opens in a new window) – it’s worked for me!


I'm Jane Pettitt, co-owner of Pets Knowledge Base with my husband, Matt. I have a grand total of 50 years’ experience as a pet owner. It all started with a guinea pig called Percy when I was 5 years old and since then I’ve lived with two more guinea pigs, a hamster, mice, a rabbit, a tortoise, a dog and 11 cats. I’ve learned so much about pet care during this time and many of my articles are based on my personal experiences and those of my family and friends .

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