If you’re concerned that your cat’s meowing is getting out of control, it helps to understand why cats meow and what is considered too much meowing for your moggy.
Cats meow for many reasons. Young cats and kittens use meowing to communicate with their mothers, to tell them they are scared or hungry. As cats grow up, they use noise such as hissing and growling to communicate with each other, and they use meowing to communicate with us humans.
How much a cat meows will depend on its temperament and its breed. Some breeds (such as Siamese cats) will meow much more than others. Some just like the sound of their own voices and will happily meow away all day if there is a human around to listen.
But what are they trying to say?
If you want to understand your cat you need to pay attention. Take note of what your cat is doing around the time he is meowing, and the circumstances. It might be as simple as his litter tray is getting a bit dirty or his water bowl is empty – look at these basic needs first. If it’s late afternoon, he might be after dinner – remember, though, that some cats meow for food no matter the time of day. If you think your cat is meowing for food, wait until he quietens down before feeding him. That way you won’t be rewarding that behaviour.
If he’s been stuck at home alone all day, perhaps he just wants a pat. While cats are generally more independent than say dogs, that doesn’t mean they don’t get lonely. Again, wait until the meowing dies down before giving him attention. If he starts to get noisy, withdraw your attention. Reward him during quiet moments if you think the meowing is getting out of hand. If you do spend long hours away from home, consider having a friend or sitter come around every now and then or consider pet day care.
As your cat ages you might find he becomes more vocal. If he seems happy enough, this might not be an issue, but if he seems disoriented or distressed, a visit to the vet wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Excessive meowing can also be a sign of illness. If you notice your cat suddenly becoming noisier, get him to the vet for a check-up. A stressed cat is also often a noisier cat. Changes to the household, such as a new baby or a change to your routine can upset your pet, causing him to meow. If you think he might be stressed, set aside more time to comfort him and give him quiet attention.
Of course, your cat might just want to breed. If your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, and he or she suddenly becomes noisier, chances are he or she is preparing to mate. Desexing your cat is a good idea, not just to cut down on noise, but to prevent unwanted litters.
Never, ever punish your cat for meowing. Spraying him with water or shouting at him might stop the meowing momentarily, but these actions will harm your relationship with your pet and even make the meowing worse in the long term. But nor is it a good idea to give in to a pet (with feeds or cuddles) to quieten him down. If he learns that to get what he want he just has to vocalise, it will just make him noisier.