Meowing, howling, wailing, and chattering are often a cat's way of expressing his personality and feelings. While this can be annoying, there is no specific definition of excessive vocalization, since it largely depends on your tolerance level as an owner. Follow these guidelines to rule out medical issues and manage your cat's chattiness.
- Rule out illness. Sudden changes in vocalization can indicate a health problem. If your cat has always been quiet and is suddenly yowling a lot, take him to your veterinarian.
- Don’t reward the meowing. Attention, even negative attention, can reinforce the behavior. If you can, avoid feeding, playing, petting or talking to your cat while he is meowing.
- Redirect, don't punish. If your cat tends to become vocal in certain situations or at certain times of the day, try to intercept him before he starts and redirect him to a fun game or petting session. This will prevent the problem behavior from starting in the first place.
- Reward quiet behavior. Save petting, playtime, dinner, etc. for quiet moments to reinforce peaceful behavior. It may take time, but animals naturally repeat behavior that benefits them.
- Consider your cat’s activity level. Cats sometimes vocalize out of boredom. Kittens and younger cats need more exercise and stimulation, so make time for interactive play at least once a day. You can also purchase a food-dispensing toy for your cat, which will burn both mental and physical energy.
- Consider your cat’s age. Cats’ vision and hearing typically get worse over time, and meowing is sometimes the result of confusion or disorientation. These types of vocalizations sometimes become stronger in the evening. Give your senior cat plenty of loving attention to soothe and reassure them.
- Explore medication if necessary. If your cat truly seems distressed and anxious, your vet can prescribe anti-anxiety medication to calm him while you work on modifying his behavior.