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Thursday, March 26, 2009


There are thought to be over 30 different cat meowing sounds and the amount of sounds your cat may make will depend on how often they communicate with other cats and with non cats i.e. humans. Cats who spend a lot of time around other cats will use a different vocabulary made up of body language, scent, and other forms of cat communication. They mainly vocalise with each other at time of mating and between mother and kitten. Cats meow to get human attention. Except from mother to kitten cats rarely meow to one another. Occasional meowing is cute and adorable but excessive meowing can be a problem. As with most behavioral problems there is always the underlying possibility that it stems from some physical ailment. It is important to rule this out before treating any behavioral problem.

There are general sounds that most cat owners will recognise and broadly speaking their meanings are the same, these are:
The general Meow - attention seeking used to communicate with owners or with kittens.
The Chatter – excitement or frustration, often seen when they are looking at birds through a window and can’t get at them. (involves rapid jaw movements).
The Growl - warns others to stay away.
The Mew (of kittens) – used to attract mothers attention usually when they are hungry or cold.
The Hiss – is used as a threat to other cats usually, can also be a sign of fear.
The Caterwaul – used when looking for a mate.
The Purr – a sign of contentment and relaxation, but also used to comfort itself if in pain.
The Scream – used when in pain or distressed, don’t tread on that tail again!
The Chirrup – this is a friendly sound, often used to greet other cats or their owners.

The cat is doing this to get your attention. Getting up to see what the cat wants, shushing or yelling at the cat is the worst thing to do because you are reinforcing the undesirable behaviour by giving the cat attention. Your attention is its reward. The easiest solution is to get a pair of earplugs. If you do not respond to the cat’s meowing it will probably stop within a few days. Excessive cat meowing is often caused because the cat has learnt that this gets them what they want, a bit like a child who learns to cry when they want something. This can become a bit of a habit and the cat starts to do it more and more. Usually this can be quite cute, however if it starts to happen all night long or is driving you crazy during the day, then it’s time to break the habit.

How to Control Cat Meowing
Step 1
Perform a quick check to make sure the noise is not intended to bring attention to an immediate need. Make sure he has food and water and is not in pain. Check to see that he can reach his litter box or put him outside to relieve himself.
Step 2
Make dinner a constant buffet. As long as your cat is not overweight, you can leave his food bowl out for him to dine on at his leisure. Most cats will only eat when they are hungry. Likewise, make sure he has access to water at all times.
Step 3
Install a pet door just his size. Cats are indecisive creatures, wanting to be outside when they are in--and inside when they are out. If you find yourself constantly opening the door for a cat that can’t make up his mind, installing a pet door will install some sorely needed silence.
Step 4
Praise your kitty for good behavior. If his howling is strictly to get your attention, withhold it until he is silent. Once he settles down, shower him with kind words and a lap-snuggle session. Ignoring him until he exhibits the correct behavior shows him that you are serious.
Step 5
Read the newspaper instead of hitting him with it. You may temporarily scare him into silence, but he will become more anxious and the howling will return with a vengeance. Worse, he will learn to run whenever you enter the room. Physical punishment does not work with cats.
Step 6
Water down the wail. Cats are not big fans of water unless they are drinking. A concealed child’s squirt gun will show him that meowing unnecessarily may result in a shower. Use only a squirt gun that sprays, not one with a powerful stream that will cause pain.

It should be noted that if you have a quiet cat that suddenly starts meowing, or a loud cat that suddenly stops, it may indicate your cat is sick. You should pay particular attention to cats that start meowing constantly while using the litter tray, cleaning themselves, or eating. Any of these could be signs that your cat is in some kind of distress. Listen to and enjoy the chatter of your cat. She does want to be understood.