You've adopted a sweet cat from your neighborhood animal shelter, and you're excited to have a furry companion to snuggle up with on the sofa for Netflix marathons. Though you're just getting to know each other, you're confident you've got a handle on the caretaking needs of a cat. Since they're much more self-sufficient than dogs, how hard can it be?
Though the generalization about self-sufficiency is true with many house cats, you may be surprised by the amount of vocal communication your new furry friend offers. It's a fact that some cat breeds tend to be more vocal than others; these include Maine coons, Siamese and Oriental breeds, among others.
Meowing tendencies can also vary based on personality, just like chattiness in humans. The key is understanding what's normal for your pet. Vocalizations that are out of the ordinary can have more serious meaning. Here are a handful of reasons why some cats are more vocal than others:
Many felines will meow when they're ready to eat, particularly if they don't have food available around the clock. And they can take their cues from you; many get used to routine and anticipate your habits that lead up to their meal time, such as a morning alarm or your return home.
Cats commonly meow to greet their loved ones and ask for undivided attention, and we often reinforce it with exactly that. If it happens more than you would like or becomes a problem, pay attention to your response and alter it slightly. Rather than responding to the meow, wait until your kitty gets quiet, then reward your pet with a head rub. This changes the reinforcement, focusing on the quiet rather than the vocalization.
Cats that are in pain often vocalize it with meows that are reminiscent of crying. These meows may be non-stop and accompanied by other behavior that's out of character. If you notice your cat is particularly chatty and seems off, contact your veterinarian immediately for an appointment.
Angry, Stressed or Bored
Humans have the benefit of an extensive vocabulary to express their emotions, but our furry friends do not. They rely solely on behavior and meows for personal expression. Not sure how that might look with your cat? Consider that last stressful trip to the vet. Was your feline particularly vocal during the drive? Many cats that are generally quiet become more vocal once they're loaded into a pet carrier and on the road.
Another common situation involves bored house cats who are occasionally allowed to venture outside. Many will get in the habit of meowing at the door, asking for another chance at some outdoor play time. That's another situation you can change by paying attention to what behavior you're reinforcing with your response.
If you're concerned about your cat's vocalization at any point, it never hurts to discuss it with an animal specialist to ensure your pet is healthy and happy.
By Tara Hall
About the Author
Tara Hall is an animal-loving writer and editor based in Austin, Texas. Her portfolio runs the gamut from small business marketing content to travel writing, fashion editorial and national music coverage.