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How to Stop MEOWING! 6 Ways to Silence Loud Mouth Cats

by | Mar 11, 2020 | Cat Behavior & Care | 46 comments

Is a new cat in your future? Each spring, kitten season may bless you with a new feline friend. But can you predict talkative cats? You wonder, why does my cat meow so much? Heck, cat meowing may be one way cats show love. My Siamese wannabe Seren lived to be 21-years-old, and she talked constantly. We relished her kitty conversations, but some cats over-indulge and pet parents want to stop cat meowing.

Karma-Kat rarely talks unless we address him and doesn’t randomly meow. Mostly, Karma comments center around FOOD and TREATS. He also meows at Shadow–thank goodness the noise doesn’t scare him! Yes, he understands the words, and his “meow” is typically a “yes, please” answer to our questions. Oh, and Karma “announces” when he uses the (ahem) facilities.

how to stop cat meowing

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

How to Stop Cat Meowing

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! How to stop cat meowing can be a huge challenge, especially with kittens and demanding older cats.NEW-KITTEN-COVER-lorez

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!). When you want to stop cat meowing that pesters you, one of the best ways is choose a cat that meows less frequently.

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 MEOW 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)

KITTEN MEOWING & CAT COMMUNICATION

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.

stop kitten meowing

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Cat Meowing Explained

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 (let me OUTSIDE!), and other resources provided by humans. Learn how to foil door-dashing felines in this post. 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.

NEW-CatCompet-lorezDEALING 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.

meowing

Image courtesy of Deposit Photos.com

How to Stop Cat Meowing

Giving in to cat meowing 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.

CLICK! TO GET YOUR 6 TIPS TO STOP MEOWING!

Before You STOP CAT MEOWING: VET ALERT!

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 cat health and behavior issues from A-to-Z in CAT FACTS.

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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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

 

 

46 Comments

  1. Cathy Keisha

    I’m a yeower. I start singing right after TW goes to bed at around 1 a.m. She used to get up to see if I was in distress but lately she’s been annoying me. She says I sound like a cat in heat up on a fence outside caterwauling. I’ve been spayed but I just want attention.

    • Karen Gant

      Any sound can drive you insane when it is done repetitively all day, every day, especially high pitched sounds such as a meow.

  2. Tuxedo Cat

    I needed this article big time! My cat doesn’t ever want to shut up, especially in the middle of the night!

    • Amy Shojai

      It can be VERY obnoxious! Hope the tips help, and thanks for visiting the blog.

  3. Tricia

    My sweet, loving, beautiful, snow-white weegie (Norwegian Forest Cat) has been very vocal ever since I brought him home at six weeks old (about 7 years ago). This is a very good article (thank you), but it won’t help my current situation. Nicolai often walks around talking and yowling to himself and/or nobody. His hearing is good, and I don’t think he’s senile. Except for asthma, he’s healthy. But as soon as he wakes up from a nap, he starts talking and whining LOUDLY, and it will go on for a few minutes. He also does it at night. I don’t respond to him, and he gets no attention, either positive or negative. I simply dismiss it as a minor irritant sometimes.

    I recently got married. Hubby likes and enjoys my three kitties, but Nicolai is keeping him awake at night. If I can’t find a way to keep Nicolai quiet at night, I may have to give him away, and it will break my heart. Tonight I will try Benadryl, an antihistamine that cats can have. I hope it helps, but I can’t keep giving Nicolai drugs every night, either. Sigh …

    I’m still seeking a remedy that doesn’t involve giving up my baby (or a muzzle … lol). Suggestions are welcome and appreciated!

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Tricia,

      My best advice, without doing a full workup and consult, is to confine Nicolai at night in a room of his own, across the house from your bedroom so you don’t hear him.

      Good luck!

  4. Cassie

    Hi Amy!

    Almost 6 months ago I brought a gorgeous Exotic Shorthair (tortoiseshell coloured) female , Cleo, to my home. She’s 1 year old now. I live with my family (we are 4 humans) in a 2500 sq ft duplex (7th floor) and we have no other pets. I did quite a lot of research about this breed even before having her with me, and I learned these cats are really quiet…

    … but she is not. She meows an *awful lot*. From my observations, she meows like 80% of the time because she wants playing, maybe less than 10% because she’s getting too much cuddling from me and the rest of the time usually because she wants some door opened for her. My main problem is that most of the time she has not enough with a toy (I have balls, mice-shaped toys and some improvised stuff like ropes with something attached to them; anyway I have to point that curiously the toys she prefers the most are my hair bands). She has to have *me playing with her* where she wants (usually in the corridor near the stairs) or she would turn *really really noisy*. And she can be like this for hours everyday. I tried to ignore her, but I can prevent the rest of the family from eventualy paying attention, so training gets really hard (while not impossible).

    Is there anything more I can do? Maybe some kind of really-enjoyable and interactive toy (that doesn’t require my intervention) capable to get all of her attention? Any other means to have her entertained consistently without me?

    Thanks in advance! Kisses!

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Cassie, Congrats on your new lovely kitty, Cleo! Yep, they can be pretty demanding. Creating a schedule (and not deviating from it…) as well as training the rest of your FAMILY (LOL!) is the key. There are some fun interactive toys, self-engaging that the cats can play with by themselves, too. PetSafe has some nice ones like Frolicats brands. Good luck!

      • cciglesiasmartinez

        Thank you so much Amy!

        I’m working that out (family education lol) right now. Thanks for the link, gonna check it out!

  5. Doron

    Awesome article Amy!

    Having 3 cats at home, we have our fair share of meows in the house LOL

    Purrs

  6. Lynda

    My deaf cat hates me, he has never sat on my lap,won’t let me hold him and has attacked me several times. He will allow my grandson to carry him under his arms with his legs and belly dragging along the ground. He is extremely vocal. I feel used

  7. Kiki

    Thanks for this wonderful piece. I will forward this article to my friend, they have been saying their cat has some issues and keeps meeowing in the night.

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Kiki, Thanks for visiting and commenting. I hope the tips help your friend.

  8. Jo

    Hi I have a domestic Short hair tabby cat and I was just wondering how I can keep him from meowing at 8 o’clock in the morning?

  9. Busker Joey

    Thanks for this wonderful piece. I need to share this with my neighbour. I will ask my dad to buy this book as a secret santa for them and insert the link on a sticknote. Sorry they have 2 cats which sing/meowing on our wall almost every night around 3am. 🙁

  10. Julie

    I just got a 9 week old kitten and he screams at everything. I think he just wants attention 24/7 as he always wants to be on me. He’s the cutest thing and I love him but how do I help him get a little more independent and quiet?

    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Julie, sorry for the delay. Much of the squalling should calm with maturity. It’s also helpful for YOU to learn when he’s truly in distress, and when it’s simply crying for attention. You’ll want to address the “help me!” cries, but responding too much to the “pet me/play with me” cries can train him to continue the behavior. It’s a balancing act. Thanks for visiting and commenting on the blog and congrats on your new kitty!

  11. Ness

    Hi Amy! I was happy to find your article because our approach to curb our cat’s (domestic short hair tabby) meowing is not working. Background: We got our cat from a shelter about two months ago and she is an adorable 1 year old who is super sweet and otherwise extremely well behaved(no scratching, biting, clawing, and loves to spend time with us). Our only issue is the CONSTANT meowing. We tried the ignore method for over a month but nothing has changed. My partner has resorted to yelling at her and eventually spraying her in the face but I don’t think she has the sense to associate it with the fact that she is meowing causing her to get mad at us and hide under the couch. The odd thing is she does not do it when my boyfriend travels for business and she stays with me alone in my apartment. However, the minute he comes home it increases by about half and once we get back to his apartment it’s full blown. I know he is not giving in to her so I don’t know what the difference could be. Any advice? We figure it must have been a behavior learned in her previous life. Does she think she will be left again? Is she uncomfortable around men? The meowing doesn’t sound like she’s scared or upset it’s a bit shrill and always the same pitch. We are staying consistent but feel horrible about having to constantly ignore her and not being able to enjoy her company as much as we’d like. I’m sure it can’t be fun for her to be ignored. She can be a bit of a dumb dumb and we are concerned she isn’t making the connection. If she stops meowing and we go over to reward to her she just starts right back up again the moment we get near her and we have to walk away. So frustrating. Thanks!

    • Amy Shojai

      Oh my, how frustrating for you. If it primarily happens when your boyfriend is there, and not when you’re alone, there is something that rewards the behavior. Meows tend to be bids for attention so — when you’re alone with her she has you to herself. When he’s there, you pay more attention to him, perhaps, and she mews to get in on the attention? Also, timing is key–if you go to her when she’s silent but it happens too quickly after silence begins, she may think, “the longer I meow, the greater the chance I’ll get attention!” Maybe think about an alternative behavior to cue (chasing a feather toy?) when she’s quiet, that keeps her busy without resorting to meows. Good luck!

      • Ness

        What made the difference for us was your advice about how even bad attention is still rewarding the behavior. As mentioned, after a month of the ignore method not working we had admittedly resorted to yelling and a spray bottle but it did absolutely nothing because as you said, it was still providing the attention. After paying more attention to my boyfriends interactions with her, he finally came to the realization that he is giving into the meowing way too soon and has now stopped that behavior. We were told by the vet it would take a couple weeks to improve but it took our cat about two months to show any change after sticking to the ignore only method. As per your advice, we also wait longer when she stops meowing before giving her attention she has to be sitting relaxing before we engage. It has now reduced to about half and strangely seemed to have happened overnight. We’re really relieved because we’re trying to have kids and had serious concerns about whether we could even keep her (used to meow in our face if we were doing anything but sitting still on the couch). I also STRONGLY recommend people get an automatic feeder so your cat dissociates you from food. I fed her via the bowl for a week when we were traveling and she started associating me with food again and meowed in my face starting hours before meal time for the entire week. We also got her a tall elaborate cat tree (we live in a small city apartment) so she leaves us alone a lot more now probably feels like she has her own space. Thanks again!

        • Amy Shojai

          Wow, thanks so much for the update, I’m glad you’re getting the ME-WOWS under control. *s*

  12. Donna

    I have a male ragdoll he always meows at night or even during the day but he’s worse at night while we try watching tv or when where going to bed he just walks arould the house meowing driving us crazy and he meows at the front door a lot because he wonts to get out but our cat is a inside cat has been since he was a kitten but because we live on a highway I won’t let him outside it’s too dangerous with cars going up and down he could get ran over so he’s a inside cat . As much as I love him his meowing needs to stop it really dose can anyone help me with this please as I need it to stop .

    • Amy Shojai

      Unfortunately, as I say in the tips guide, it will get worse before it gets better. But you must follow the tips provided. There is no magic wand! When you pay attention to him (with good OR bad attention) that rewards him and encourages the meowing to continue.

  13. Chris

    My cat is about a year an 3 months she gets meowy sometimes..is she hurting?

    • Amy Shojai

      Usually vocalizing kitties want attention. If you’re concerned as it’s unusual, a veterinarian checkup is a good idea.

  14. Chris

    Hi.

    Probably hoping for too much here but need help with a blind from birth (no eyeballs) moggy. He looks exactly like this but with darker coloured fur (apart from the eyes of course) https://cdn.omlet.co.uk/images/originals/Cat-Cat_Guide-A_moggy_tabby_cat_lying_down_on_the_carpet_with_its_paws_stretched_out.jpg

    He was meowing under a car and I rescued him from starvation when he was about 2 months old and he sticks to me like superglue. Didn’t neuter him and got lucky because he alomst never pees at the windows or front door (which are the borders to his house-defined territory) and obviously he has to rely on his ears for almost everything. He’s now a bit older than 2.
    When I haven’t been at home for a few hours the other 2 humans never hear him cos 99% of the attention he gets is from me. He runs to the door meowing when he hears me coming up the stairs and is fairly talkative when I’m at home. I’m a night owl and go to bed when the sun comes up and so have to keep him quiet while the other 2 humans are asleep. If he meows once or twice at night it’s usually not a problem cos it’s not that loud but if I come back late (if he hasn’t had contact with me for maybe 7 or 8 hours and the other 2 humans are sleeping and it’s dead quiet) he starts howling cos I’m not there and wakes everyone up – process repeats every 15-30min. Can’t isolate him in another room cos the house is too small. Have put him in a cat enclosure in the storage room under the apartment a couple of times but he hates that and scares the crap out of him and we feel really bad about doing that to him. Have tried a sedative reommended for cats but his stomach can’t handle it and he vomits it back up or if it stays down it as no effect. Have tried catnip but it doesn’t make him sleepy. The other 2 humans can’t play with him before they go to bed to make him tired so that’s not an option. I’m thinking the last resort is to de-meow him unless anyone has any bright ideas. 🙁

    • Amy Shojai

      Play harp music for him. It’s a natural sedative and entrains the brain waves and heart rhythms. Since he’s very keyed into sound, that should work very well for him (it does for sighted cats, too). One that I like is from Susan Raimond, Pet Pause. https://petpause2000.com/cds-mp3s Good luck!

      • Chris

        Hi. Thanks very much for the reply. I was wondering if there are any scientific studies proving the effectiveness of this on cats. There aren’t any mentioned/linked to on that site and I don’t want to spend $45 and international postage on something that’s not proven scientifically.
        Also, if this does work, would you recommend playing the music continuously while I’m not at home or just for a few mins or an hour before I go out, or in some other fashion?
        Thanks.

        • Amy Shojai

          You can GOOGLE the terms “cats and music” for a host of studies, some from Applied Animal Behavior and others more anecdotal. There are never guarantees about what works with a given cat. I’m most familiar with Raimond’s work but you can certainly also try free YouTube music of harp or other music to try, if you don’t wish to purchase something.

          • Chris

            Thanks for the reply. I will try to do some research if I get the time.

            On a positive note, I thought about something that might work and it seems to be doing the trick. We don’t have regular feeding times so he eats whenever he feels hungry, however what I do when I have to go out at night and come back early hours of the morning is I refrain from giving him anything to eat for about 6 hours – no food whatsoever (only water) from dinner time at 6PM until just before I go out (at around midnight). Since he (and most cats?) seems to sleep after eating a large amount of food, he usually just goes to bed and lets the food digest and fortunately he remains quiet for hours at a time (presumably most of the time is spent asleep). Working very well so far so crossing my fingers. 😉 Just as a footnote, he’s not that active (because of his blindness) and so he doesn’t get tired from playing like most cats do so this is the only way I can make him sleepy.

            Hopefully this will be helpful for others who are trying to keep their indoor cats quiet at night.

  15. James King

    I’ve lived with many cats during my lifetime, but the latest one I adopted is possessed. I have to keep the house windows closed as people walking down street have asked if he’s okay. He makes me sweat when he meows! Seriously it’s so loud. Ignoring him… i.e. locking him downstairs from dawn until 10am (ignoring) does NOT work. I bought pheromones but it doesn’t work. Do I have to live another 18 years with this?! I have four other cats and their meows are so quiet or non existent. He’s going to give me a heart attack I’m so stressed. He’s been castrated. He’s still yowling now at 1am. I want to get him devocalized but apparently that’s cruel. I want to give him away but he is part of our family and who wants him?! Grrrr! 18 more years?! Do I need to build a soundproof jail for him in the garden?

    • Amy Shojai

      Ignoring means every-single-time. *s* And as the blog says, it gets worse before it gets better in an extinction burst. But with your description I’d get him vet checked to be sure he’s not deaf, or has some other health/physical issue prompting the behavior.

    • Amy Shojai

      Congratulations on your novel–so does it have a lot to do with cat meowing (since you posted the comment on this thread)? Also, I would urge you to consider looking into membership in the Cat Writers’ Association, as membership should help you connect with more writers of cat-centric material. *s*

  16. Dan Rivan

    I never shut up a cat’s mouth, because cat noises don’t bother me. and the sound was very natural to me

  17. Vita Gewen

    Honey is the name of my white kitten from a British 1980s television series. A white cat gets abused by several people in The Adventures of White Beauty, but it ends happily. A man recognizes the sound of white Beauty’s neighing as he remembers the voice of his owner.

    • Amy Shojai

      I’m confused…a white kitten that neighs like a horse? You might be conflating this with Black Beauty (a horse story) *s*. Oh, and I removed the link as it had nothing to do with your comment or the topic at hand. Thanks for understanding.

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Do you have a scaredy cat? Working with fearful and scared cats can be a challenge. Does Sheba hiss at strangers? Does Tom dive under the bed when the doorbell rings? Do your kitties attack other pets (or humans)? What can you do to stop bad behavior if even a mild correction sends the cat into fearful meltdown? Alexa posted her Ask Amy question to my Facebook page, and the answer is in today’s video.

Helping Shy & Scaredy Cats

We often feel that our fur-kids must have been abused and feel bad to make THEM feel bad. But they still need to know limits. One of my favorite ways to train is using positive rewards. Instead of waiting for kitty to scratch the wrong object and then interrupting the behavior–why not REWARD her when she scratches the RIGHT object?

Using kitty clicker training can also build confidence in shy cats by teaching them what happens is in their paws. Here are more tips for dealing with scared cats.

Cat Neatness Freaks: How & Why Cats Groom

Does your cat groom nonstop? We cherish the cat’s fastidious nature but did you ever wonder why cats groom? Neatnik behavior goes beyond looking good. Did you know in this hot weather, cats also groom to stay cool and prevent heatstroke? 

How and why cats groom impacts physical, emotional, and social health. My Karma-Kat even tries to groom his best friend, Bravo-Dawg. The instinct starts during kittenhood and lasts a lifetime. Of course, some cats get dingy when cats don’t groom, and there are reasons for that as well.

Grooming is a barometer of kitty health. Cats that feel bad often stop grooming, or lick and pull fur out due to stress or pain. Consider an unthrifty appearance or “barbering” themselves bald a kitty cry for vet care. Cats often need help in the grooming department—especially longhair beauties. Here are 5 common reasons why cats groom.

Please Fence Me In: Creating Good Neighbors & Keeping Dogs Safe

Do you have a dog fence? Magical-Dawg used to take off after “critters” every so often, racing around the 13-acre spread (or beyond). We eventually trained him to stay with us, even when off-leash. It would have devastated me if Magic disappeared. He was microchipped, but folks would need to catch him first.

Bravo was a very different dog. He was so good off-leash during most morning rambles and didn’t want to go too far away from us. He’d chase and play with his “big-ball” in the field, and baptize every tree and grass tussock. And once he lost his leg, he couldn’t get out the back fenced area even if he’d wanted to.

 Shadow-Pup, though, takes after Magical-Dawg. He’s so small, not even the fenced back area keeps him contained. He also likes to dig, so we needed to address possible escapes. Refer to this post for more help with digging dogs. Until recently, we had to keep him on a leash anytime we went outside, and that’s no fun for him–or for us. A fence is a dog’s best friend!

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Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

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