Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
From gentle head nudges to a quick flick of a tail, cats are masters of subtle communication.
But while most felines aren't too inclined to meow their opinions, there are some cats who are downright chatty.
According to Dr. Ilana Reisner, DVM, PhD, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist at Reisner Veterinary Behavior & Consulting Services in Media, Pa., if it's clear that the object of a cat’s meow is a human, she likely wants something.
“That might be anything from food to opening a door to an indirect communication of ‘worry’ about something else in the environment,” Dr. Reisner says, adding that your chatty kitty could also just be saying that she's happy to see you.
Each kitten is born with a “baseline noisiness,” Dr. Reisner says, noting that some
other Oriental breeds tend to be very chatty, which points to a genetic basis.
But the baseline can also be affected by experiences. “Vocal cats are usually vocal as juveniles and then through their lives, but learning plays an important role,” Dr. Reisner says.
Dr. Reisner believes that a high concentration of meows in some cats is likely due to human behavior. “For example, if meowing yields food, the food reinforces the vocalization, so the
cat will meow again for food,” explains Dr. Reisner. “If food is never given in association with meows, the cat would be less vocal.”
If you talk to your kitty, and wish that she would talk back, Dr. Reisner says that this is possible — within the limits of a cat's individual behavior. “You can reinforce it with something positive, like opening a door if the
cat wants to go through it or taking a toy down from a shelf,” she explains.
On the other hand, if your cat’s loose-lipped ways are wearing you down, Dr. Reisner suggests training her to be more reserved by “removing 100 percent of the reinforcement or teaching the cat to do something else for the food, like walking in a circle.” Plus, keep an eye out for less obvious ways that you may be reinforcing the behavior — such as giving your kitty attention when she gets too chatty.
Another thing to keep in mind: Although excessive meowing is often an attention-seeking behavior, it can sometimes indicate pain, anxiety or other medical issues. So when in doubt, consult your veterinarian.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Bethany, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, will be
reunited with her family after American
Airlines put her on the wrong…
We scoured our database of 1.5 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
Getting something special for your animal
this holiday season? Make sure it's not
one of these dangerous items.
From ID tags to photo ornaments, you'll
love these personalized stocking stuffers
for dogs that are under $15.
We surveyed 1,235 dog owners on
whether they shop for their canines, how
much they spend and what they buy.
Cat style expert Kate Benjamin shares
her favorite feline toys, collars and treats
that are under $10 (and quite…
As the muscular Toyger slinks through your living room, it would be easy to imagine that she is truly a wild cat.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.