Your Vocal Cat

posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 in Pet Help

Vocalizing is one way for your cat to communicate with you and with other animals. Some cats "talk" more than others, but most cats do make noise in some form of meow or another, some of the time. We're all familiar with the meaning of hissing and growling, but there are also many other sounds that your cat is capable of, and a variety of reasons for vocalizing.

Medical Reasons

If your cat starts to be more vocal than normal, or if your cat's behavior changes suddenly in some noticeable way, the first thing you should do is take her to your veterinarian for a thorough health examination. Cats often hide symptoms of illness until they're seriously ill. Any change in behavior may be an early indication of a medical problem. A new vocalizing behavior, in particular, may indicate physical discomfort stemming from an urgent need for medical attention. At a minimum, upon a complete examination, you will be able to rule out a medical issue and focus on behavior.

Breed Tendency

There are certain breeds of cats, such as the Oriental breeds (Siamese), are known to be very vocal. If your cat has a pointed face and a long, lean body, chances are she has some oriental heritage, so "talking" may be a part of her character. Avoid giving her any attention when she is vocal because this will only encourage the vocal behavior. Instead, give her attention when she is quiet. But recognize that if you have one of these breeds, it is a part of their make up and so getting them to be less vocal may be an issue.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Some cats "talk" because they know they'll get a reaction or they want to get a reaction of any sort from their humans. People may talk back, feed her, yell at her, pick her up and lock her in another room, or pick her up and soothe her. All of these responses will encourage an attention-seeking cat. To discourage this behavior, simply ignore your cat when she does this, and when she is quiet, pour on the love, feed her or give her some treats. This will teach your cat which behaviors you would like her to continue.

Your Cat Wants To Go Outside

If your cat was previously an outdoor cat you can easily make her an indoor cat! Here are ideas for helping to make the transition from outside to inside:

  • Spay or Neuter: Spaying or neutering will rid your cat of those hormonal urges to go out and seek a mate. This will result in a calmer, friendlier cat. 
  • Play: play with your cat and provide your cat with toys to keep them interested inside. Even an empty box or paper sack will entertain your cat.
  • Windows: Be sure your cat has a view of the outdoors and a sunny place to lie. Cats like to watch birds, so putting a bird feeder or bird bath outside this window is likely to make it a favorite spot for your cat.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Give your cat a game to play by hiding bits of dry food around the house. Hide the food in paper bags, boxes and behind open doors. This will give her exercise and keep her busy. This is especially good to do right before the family leaves the house for the day.
  • Attention: Try to give your cat extra love and attention during this transition.
  • Aversives: If your cat still won't give up meowing by the door, try an aversive. Leave strong citrus scents by the door or put plastic carpet runner down (turned upside down) so they don’t want to walk on it to get to the door.
  • Get another cat: this will help keep your cat company *Never let your cat outdoors; once you do they will want to go out again. The drive to go outside will fade if you stick with keeping them inside. Inside cats live longer lives and are quite content to be inside where it is safe.
Grief

Sometimes after the death or departure of a person or animal in your cat's life, she will vocalize to express her grief. This can be a normal part of the grieving process. The best thing you can do for her is keep her schedule the same (or as close as possible) and spend some extra one on one and playtime with her. Additionally leaving the radio or television on while you are gone will help as it will provide your cat with some noise so they will not feel alone. With time, this problem should take care of itself. See our chapter on Grieving for more information. When the time is right, you may want to consider getting another cat friend for your cat. Be sure and look for the right ‘match’ and get one that is close in age and/or personality so that the ‘friend’ you get is a good match

Transition

If your cat is new to your home or has just gone through a change (move, new person/animal in the household, person moved out) and has just started her talkative behavior, be patient. This may be happening due to the transition and will stop on its own over time. Remember, even scolding can be perceived by your cat as attention, and thus encourage the behavior. Remember to be patient with your cat just as you would your child or others in your life. Change is hard and stressful on cats too.