Cats, like people, have a variety of personalities, and some felines are more talkative than others. How many and what type of vocalizations your cat makes can have a range of meanings, from medical problems to a desire to socialize with you.
Medical and Health Issues
Changes in your cat's vocalization patterns can mean medical or health problems, so it's important you know what's normal for your cat and what's out of character. If your cat tends to be an avid conversationalist and suddenly becomes quiet, or if your typically reticent feline suddenly becomes loud and insistent, he may be trying to tell you he's ill, in pain or uncomfortable. Take him to the vet and have him thoroughly checked out.
Cats can be very persistent in letting you know when it's time for a meal, especially if you feed them on a regular schedule. Some cats may rub themselves against your legs or position themselves near the food bowl and stare intently at you until you get the message. Others meow loudly and insistently, as if they're afraid you'll forget about them. Rescued cats who may not always have had enough to eat can be especially vocal in their demands.
Desires and Disagreements
Some cats curl up near you when they want attention. If you have a more vocal cat, she may tell you in no uncertain terms that it's time to pet her. Certain cats even like to have conversations; if you talk to them, they'll reply with enthusiasm. On the other hand, sometimes cats vocalize because they're upset or displeased. If you've moved, added another pet to your home or even changed your daily routine, your cat might vocalize to express her stress or displeasure. And when you crate her for a trip to the vet, she's very likely to make you hear how unhappy she is!
If your cat's an avid hunter who can't reach his prey, he may vocalize to the object of his predatory desire. These sounds aren't usually aimed at you but rather serve as a response to his frustration. If he spots a bird outside your window, sees your pet parakeet or notices a moth on the ceiling, he may make a chattering or chirping noise with his teeth.
Your cat's breed can also affect how much she vocalizes. Oriental, Siamese and other Asian breeds -- often characterized by triangular faces and long, slender torsos -- tend to talk a lot. Even if your cat isn't pure-blooded, if she has any of these breeds in her family tree she may have inherited the urge to air her opinion frequently.
If you want your cat to vocalize less -- especially at inappropriate times, such as the middle of the night -- you can alter your responses to encourage silence. The best reaction is no reaction. If you talk to him, feed him, pet him or acknowledge him in any way, you're providing positive reinforcement. Instead, give him what he wants, whether it's food, attention or conversation, when he's quiet. Be prepared for him to meow for longer stretches of time and at increasing volume until he realizes you won't reward his vocalizations. If he still refuses to reply, you may want to consult a cat behaviorist.
- cat image by Sergey Bykov from Fotolia.com
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