Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Ask a Vet: What Should I Do About the Howling Cat in My Yard?

Photo by Energetic Spirit via Flickr

Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on 7x7.com. Dr. Jeannine Berger, DVM, DACVB is a board certified veterinary behaviorist who counsels guardians whose pets’ issues are beyond the scope of training. Think of her as a pet shrink at your service. Ask your own questions in the comments!

Q: We keep hearing howling in our backyard which we've decided is a cat. It sounds like a baby being tortured, but we're going with cat. What do we do about it?

A: Sounds like you have a cat in heat! Cat breeding season is dependent on the weather, not the time of year, so this happens whenever it's nice out. Those noises in your backyard is likely a feral or free roaming cat lookin for love. Many of the homeless kittens that come into shelters every year are the results of feral cats getting frisky. And cats, being prolific as they are, if left unaltered, can make quite an impact. If you put two cats in a room for 5 years, you'd have as many as 35,000 kittens. That's right. Not a typo. So, what to do? Call us. We can fix that. Literally. Our Community Cats department will come out and trap your cats (there are likely more than one), spay/neuter, tip the ear, and return the cats to their colony. Or, if you want to do the trapping yourself, we can teach you how, lend you the traps and you'll bring the cats here for spay/neutering. We'll also monitor the health of the colony over time to make sure there are no diseases and that the colony isn't growing. Most communities have a program like this- it is referred to as TNR. Thanks for reaching out to us and helping to stem overpopulation. These are the community's cats, so we all have a hand in keeping them healthy and safe. Here's our Portlandia spoof on the topic: Be Better Than Your Friends!