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Recently we had a discussion with some of my Facebook friends and colleagues who have new kitties with — let us say — loud mouth issues, LOL! New cats and especially kittens can be very demanding, and it’s quite a challenge to silence meows from loud mouth cats.
I figured this was the purr-fect time to share some of the information from a couple of my books, particularly since kitten season is here. COMPLETE KITTEN CARE has some tips on choosing your new kitten based on breed (of course, strays may choose you!)
A few cat breeds are famous for their loud voices. Siamese-type cats are known for their distinctive meows and love to hold long—and loud—conversations with their humans. If you adopt one of these kittens, they’ll always get in the last word!
BREED TENDENCIES (from Complete Kitten Care)
- Highly active, in-your-face: Abyssinian, Balinese, Bombay, Burmese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Egyptian Mau, Javanese, Oriental Longhair, Oriental Shorthair, Russian Blue, Siamese, Somali, Tonkinese
- Less active “lap sitter”: American Wirehair, Birman, British Shorthair, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, Persian, Ragdoll, Snowshoe
- Vocal, opinionated: Balinese, Color-point Shorthair, Japanese Bobtail, Javanese, Oriental Longhair, Oriental Shorthair, Siamese, Tonkinese
- Quiet, prefers watching: American Wirehair, Birman, British Shorthair, Chartreux, Egyptian Mau, Exotic Shorthair, Havana Brown, Korat, Scottish Fold, Snowshoe
- High-fashion models, requires lots of grooming: Exotic, Himalayan, Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cat, Persian, Ragdoll, Scottish Fold (longhair)
Cat communication begins early in life. Kittens less than three weeks old vocalize a defensive spit, contented purr, and distress call (similar to adult meow) if the baby becomes isolated, cold, or trapped. Interestingly, the call for “cold” sounds much higher pitched and disappears from the repertoire once the kitten can self-regulate body temperature at about four weeks of age.
Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com
Cats rarely meow at each other. They learn to direct meows at humans because we reward them with attention. Each cat learns by association that meowing prompts feeding, access to locations, and other resources provided by humans. Some cats learn to produce unique meows for each circumstance.
Humans often overlook body language that makes up a great deal of cat communication, but feline yowls, growls, hisses and purrs get our undivided attention—especially at 5:00 a.m.
DEALING WITH CATERWAULING (from ComPETability: CATS)
In multi-pet homes, troublemakers (other pets pestering) may prompt problem meowing. Cats introduced to other cats or dogs for the first time often meow more as a result. Felines use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with other cats, but seem to reserve “meows” primarily for talking to their people. Meows are demands: let me OUT, let me IN, pet me, play with me, FEED me! As the cats become more passionate and insistent, meows grow more strident and lower-pitched.
Image courtesy of Deposit Photos.com
Giving in to meow-demands tells Sheba that pestering works to get her way, and any response such as putting the pillow over your head, yelling at her, or pushing her off the bed still gives her the attention she craves. The only way to extinguish this behavior is to totally ignore the cat.
That means, you DON’T get up to feed her; you DON’T indulge in toe-tag games; you DON’T yell at her, spray her with water, or give any attention at all. That’s hard to do when she’s paw-patting your nose, or shaking the windows with yowls. It can take weeks to months to get rid of this behavior once established, but with patience, it can be done.
- Many people enjoy sleeping with their cat until Sheba opens her meow-mouth. You may need to make a hard choice, and shut her out of the bedroom. Cats shut out of the bedroom often continue to pester from the other side of the door, and may even scratch or otherwise cause damage.
- Choose a “safe room” on the other side of the house stocked with lots of toys, a litter box, scratch object and food, and confine noisy cats out of earshot.
- If other cats or dogs instigate the meowing, separating and confining the problem fur-kid away from the others can help. When the dog stays in his crate for the night, he can’t chase and tease the cat—or vice versa.
- Meowing can result from boredom. Offer a Treat Ball or other irresistible toy that keeps the cat’s brain (and mouth) occupied so she won’t meow.
- Closing windows so your cats can’t hear or see outside strays may help. Anything that attracts roaming cats to visit during the night should be discouraged. For example, avoid leaving out food on the porch, and clean up brush piles that make attractive critter hiding places.
- When all else fails, invest in earplugs to help you ignore the cat’s please for attention!
For some reason, cats tend to become more vocal when suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure), which can be a result of kidney or heart disease. When Sheba can’t hear her own voice any longer, she tends to meow louder and longer. Excessive meowing also may be a sign of deafness in aging cats or even kitty Alzheimer’s (feline cognitive disorder). Check with your veterinarian about excessive meowing in any cat and learn more about aging cat issues in COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT.
Here’s a fun Infographic that was shared with me–does any of this look familiar to you? How do you deal with bedtime pester bugs? Do tell!
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