Managing Constant Meowing

Nanette Vaughan, a nurse practitioner from Raleigh, North Carolina, knew Siamese were "chatty," and she liked the idea of a "talkative" cat. So, when Vaughan's new seal point kitten, Mandy, started talking up a storm, she encouraged her. A year later, Vaughan was practically begging Mandy to be quiet. (For more information on choosing the right pet, click here.)

Meowing for Results

"Siamese vocalize a lot," Vaughan says. "But Mandy meowed all day and into the night. It drove me nuts, and I didn't know how to control it."

"Constant meowing is how cats train owners," says Barbara Simpson, DVM, Diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and adjunct professor at the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, North Carolina. "Cats quickly learn to get what they want by meowing, and owners reinforce this by giving in."

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Tactics for

Here are some tips on correcting incessant cat meowing:

  • Ignore it. This is the most effective way to stop constant meowing, but also the most difficult. The meowing usually gets worse before it gets better, but eventually your pet will learn incessant crying doesn't work. So don't give in, no matter how awful the caterwauling.
  • Deter it. If your cat starts meowing every morning at 4 am because she's up and you aren't, give her a quick blast with a hairdryer or squirt bottle. Be subtle so she doesn't associate you with the unpleasantness.
  • Distract your pet. Cats often meow because they're bored. Leave a few toys around so your cat will have something to play with whenever she's in the mood.
  • Maintain a regular schedule. Cats are creatures of habit and will let you know they're upset about changes in their routine. A regular schedule means a happy kitty.
  • An important note: "Sudden, non-stop meowing from a normally quiet cat could indicate illness," warns Mark Dew, DVM, owner of the Animal HealthCare Center in Lake Worth, Florida. "If your cat meows plaintively when trying to eat, groom herself or use the litter box, consult your veterinarian immediately."

As for Vaughan? She talked with her veterinarian and was told to steadfastly ignore Mandy's cries when they were inappropriate. "I played with Mandy several times a day so she'd know she was loved, but otherwise I ignored her," Vaughan reports. "It took three long weeks, but she finally got the message."

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To Learn More About Your Cat's Behavior

For more information on your cat's behavior, visit our FAQ Section. Here, you'll find answers to many of your most common behavior questions.

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