What is excessive vocalisation?
This is a difficult question to answer. Some breeds of cat are more talkative than others. The Siamese and Bengal breeds are both well-known talkers. We share our home with a domestic shorthair cat who is a constant chirper she had already been named Melody when we adopted her.
It also depends on the pet owner’s tolerance. Some pet owners enjoy a chatty cat; others prefer a quieter cat.
It could also be considered excessive if the cat’s behaviour changes. A cat who is usually quiet and suddenly starts meowing a lot more then it could be regarded as excessive.
Hunger: This is perfectly normal, and the meowing should cease once the cat has been fed. However, if the cat continually asks for food, even though it is being fed an adequate diet then it is advisable you see your veterinarian as there may be a medical reason for this.
Estrus: An entire (undesexed) female cat in heat will call regularly. Once she has been spayed, this behaviour will stop.
New kitten: If you have just obtained your kitten it may meow excessively for the first few days. Leaving his mother and siblings and moving into a new house with new owners is a huge change to your kitten.
Loss of a companion: Cats are sensitive creatures and form close bonds with their owners and other pets in the household. If there are changes to the family dynamics, such as a separation, or the loss of an animal, this may cause your cat to meow more than usual.
Moving house: Again, this is a significant change for your cat and may result in it becoming more vocal.
Attention seeking: Excessive vocalisation may be a result of your cat is feeling lonely or not receiving enough attention from his owner.
Outside influences: A neighbourhood cat coming onto your cat’s territory.
Old age: Some old cats may meow excessively. This usually happens when they begin to lose their cognitive functions.
Medical problems: If your cat is sick or in pain it may result in excessive vocalisation.
Nocturnal behaviour: Cats by nature are nocturnal, and may meow more during the night.
Senility: Senior cats may develop senility in their later years which can cause confusion and excessive vocalisation.
It is important to find out the cause of the vocalising to address the problem correctly. A physical examination by your veterinarian is also can rule out a medical cause for this behaviour. If it is due to stress your vet will be able to advise on ways to reduce stress in your cat’s life, and in severe cases may prescribe some anti-anxiety medication.
Hunger: Feeding the cat should stop the vocalising. Feed him smaller amounts more often.
Estrus: Desex your cat, this is the only way to stop your cat calling (aside from pregnancy).
New Kitten: It will take a few days for your new kitten to settle into his environment. Heap lots of attention on him during this time. If you are not sleeping with the kitten, then you may wish to try and mimic his mother as much as possible. To do this, provide a warm bed for your kitten to sleep in, with a hot water bottle (not too hot), wrapped in a towel or blanket. You can also try putting a ticking clock in the bed which may remind the kitten of his mother.
Loss of a companion: Unfortunately, in most cases, you can’t bring the person or pet back. It is important to understand that just like humans, cats suffer from grief too. To understand this, you will be able to take steps to comfort your cat. Extra love and attention should help your cat cope.
Moving house: Cats are creatures of habit and don’t adapt to change well. If your cat has become vocal since moving into a new home hopefully in time, once the cat has adjusted the behaviour will stop. Ways to speed this up include unpacking and setting up your house as quickly as possible, so your cat can see familiar surroundings. Extra attention during this time can also be of help to settle your cat in.
Attention seeking: Some cats are quite happy to entertain themselves, other cats thrive on human companionship, and if they don’t receive the attention, they crave they may meow excessively. The solution to this is to attempt to give them the attention they want. This means to make time in the day to pet and cuddle them, daily brushing and plenty of playtime with your cat.
Outside influences: The arrival of a neighbourhood cat in your garden may result in your cat meowing excessively. If this is the case, then you need a two-tiered approach. Firstly try to discourage the cat from entering your property, and secondly block the view of the neighbourhood cat with the use of blinds, curtains etc.
Old age: Sometimes cats may become more vocal in old age. This may be the result of a loss of cognitive abilities, senility etc. Your veterinarian will be able to advise on the proper care and treatment of an older cat or at least slowing down the effects of medical conditions brought on by old age. Also, giving your cat extra love and attention in his twilight years can help reassure it make it feel safe and secure which will hopefully help with the excessive vocalisation.
Medical problems: Immediate veterinary attention must be sought if your cat suddenly starts vocalising excessively.
Nocturnal behaviour: Cats by nature are crepuscular, but this doesn’t always fit into our lifestyle. Before bed, play with the cat for 15 minutes, and at the end of the session, let him catch and kill his prey (the toy), immediately afterwards, feed the cat. This simulates an active stalk, hunt, kill and finally, eat, which is what would happen in the wild. If the behaviour continues, then you may have to consider keeping your cat as far away from your sleeping area as possible, so at least you can’t hear the meowing.
As you can see, there are many causes of excessive vocalisation in cats, some of which may not have been covered in this article. Any changes in behaviour do warrant a visit to your veterinarian to rule out a medical problem.
Never use physical punishment on your cat. It doesn’t work and in many cases may compound the problem by causing fear and stress. Generally, if you want to modify a behaviour in cats, it is advised that you reward good behaviour and ignore undesirable behaviour.