Why does a cat meow?

Almo Nature kattenbakvulling

A cat that meows all the time can drive its owner insane. At the Oostzaan animal shelter where I work as a volunteer, cats are sometimes relinquished because they meow so much that it drives their owners crazy. As a cat behaviourist I have also guided and advised people on how to solve excessive meowing of their cats. 

Reasons why cats meow

1) Cats only meow at people and not at other cats. At other cats they can scream, shriek, hiss and growl but they do not meow. 

2) Cats meow at people because it provides them with something and in many cases it’s attention. When a cat meows, the owner looks up, walks towards it, talks back, opens the door or gives it a treat. This way, the cat learns that when it meows, something happens.

3) Meowing is therefore learned behaviour. Cats do not meow for nothing.

4) Cats will meow more or louder when people ignore them sometimes and sometimes not. This is how a cat learns that if it keeps meowing long enough or loud enough, eventually something will happen.

What you can do to reduce meowing

1) First, look at yourself, what do you do when your cat meows? Can you stop doing it?

2) Then look at your cat, does it have enough activities or are you the only form of entertainment? For activities, think of food enrichment and play.

3) Cats are control freaks and love routine. They like fixed times for eating, playing and sleeping. Fixed times for going out and coming in. Make sure the areas where the cat is allowed to go are always accessible for him.  

4) Ignore meowing consistently, but really consistently and all the time. Even if your cat has not meowed for months and suddenly, when you least expect it, starts to meow again. Because this will happen.

Properly ignoring a cat means: don’t look, don’t say anything, don’t sigh, really don’t do anything.

Note: You can only do this ignoring technique properly once. If you don’t ignore your cat properly, the cat will learn that it just has to continue meowing longer or louder.