Cats and Excessive Meowing (cont.)

Take Your Cat to the Veterinarian

A cat who meows a lot should be checked thoroughly by a veterinarian to ensure a medical condition is not the cause of the cat's distress. Numerous diseases can cause cats to feel unusually hungry, thirsty, restless or irritable—any of which is likely to prompt meowing. Even if your cat has a history of meowing for food, you should still have her checked by your veterinarian. As cats age, they're prone to developing an overactive thyroid and kidney disease, and either one may result in excessive meowing.

Helping Your Cat Be Less Vocal

Before you try to curb your cat's excessive vocalizing, you need to determine its cause. Look at the circumstances around her meowing and make note of what seems to get her to stop. It may help to keep a log book so you can look for any patterns in when she becomes especially vocal . Once you identify when she's likely to meow excessively, try these suggestions to help her control her vocalizations:

  • If your cat meows to say hello, it's unlikely that you'll be able to do much to change things—you have an especially vocal cat who is telling you how glad she is to see you!
  • If your cat is meowing for attention, teach her that you'll only pay attention to her when she's quiet. Resist the urge to shout at her or give her any form of attention, even angry attention. Instead, be patient and wait for a brief moment of silence. Immediately give her the attention she craves. If she starts to meow again, walk away, and only return to her when she's quiet. If you're consistent, she will catch on.
  • If you believe your cat cries out of loneliness because you spend too much time out of the house, consider having a pet sitter come partway through the day to visit and play with her. Please see our articleEnriching Your Cat's Lifefor other ideas to keep your cat entertained while you're away.
  • If your cat meows at you for food, stop feeding her when she cries! Feed her at prescribed times so she learns that it's futile to ask for food at other times. If that doesn't work, buy an automatic feeder that you can schedule to open at specific times. At least then she's more likely to meow at the feeder than at you! This is especially useful if your cat wakes you up in the morning to be fed—she'll switch from bothering you to sitting and watching the feeder, waiting for it to open.
  • If you've recently placed your cat on a diet, consult with your veterinarian about high-fiber diet foods or supplements that can help your cat feel satisfied with her reduced intake.
  • If your cat isn't prone to gaining weight, consider leaving dry food out for her all the time so she never has to feel hungry. If you feed a high-fiber diet food, your cat can feel full without taking in too many calories. Check with your veterinarian before trying this.
  • If your cat is meowing to get you to let her inside/outside, consider installing a cat door so you don't have to serve as her butler. The ASPCA recommends that cats be kept exclusively indoors to protect them from danger and disease. If you have a cat who's accustomed to going outside and you want to keep her in, she's likely to go through a period of meowing at doors and windows. There's no easy way to get through this, but as long as she never gets outside again, she will eventually adjust to her life indoors and stop meowing so much. Please read our article onEnriching Your Cat's Lifeso you can keep her happy by enriching her indoor world. Another option is to build an outdoor cat enclosure so she can spend time outside but remain safe. Our article,Preventing Your Cat from Getting Outside, has more information on this subject.
  • If your female cat isn't spayed and she periodically meows excessively, she may be in heat at those times. Female cats in heat typically become increasingly affectionate, rub against you more, purr, roll around on the floor--and meowa lot. This lasts 4 to10 days. An unspayed female cat who isn't bred by (doesn't have sex with) a male cat will continue to come into heat every 18 to 24 days throughout the breeding season (roughly February through September in the Northern Hemisphere). Indoor cats may continue to come into heat all year round. The best way to reduce excessive meowing caused by the heat cycle is to have your cat spayed.
  • If your male cat isn't neutered and he periodically meows excessively, he may be hearing or smelling a female cat in heat. He is likely to pace and meow relentlessly throughout the time the female stays in heat. Unless you can completely prevent him from being able to detect females in heat, the best way to reduce excessive meowing in an intact male cat is to have him neutered.
  • If your cat is elderly and has just started meowing excessively, make sure to have her evaluated by your veterinarian for medical conditions, sensory deficits and cognitive dysfunction. Medication may alleviate her discomfort.