Few Basic Solutions

Unwanted behaviour – excessive meowing

A cat’s « meow » is usually intended to catch our attention and there are as many « meow » as there are cats on this Earth. You should understand that there is a great variability in meowing and only you and your cat understand each other!

That said, although you are happy to be one with your cat, I understand that you could want Féline Dion or Catvarotti to stop their nighttime vocal exercises. Here is what you should do:

First, see a veterinarian because excessive meowing can hide neurological problems, anxiety disorders, pain or intense fear.

The vet says Kitty is healthy? Alright, we can now try to eliminate the behaviour.

The trick is to completely ignore Kitty as soon as the meowing starts. If this is a new thing, the present tips should suffice. However, if it has been going on for months, we advise that you contact us quickly to discuss whether a consultation would be preferable. The longer the issue has been going on, the more likely it is that you have, unknowingly, « trained » your cat to meow further. Indeed, any attempt to silence a cat gives it exactly what it’s looking for: attention. In this case, some techniques can be applied, which should allow you to regain your nocturnal tranquility effectively. A consultation is often required, because the intervention should be adapted to the cat, its environment and the adopters.

On the other hand, if your cat recently started meowing or not that often, the motto is to ignore it completely. In other words, when your cat meows, you don’t have a cat anymore. It becomes invisible. It teleports to another dimension. It doesn’t exist anymore. Any form of attention will encourage the meowing: sighing, throwing a toy, shouting « shut up! » or « Kitty! », throwing food, getting up to open the door, etc.

« Cat Educator, what you’re asking is totally twisted and impossible!  My cat is way too annoying to ignore! »

Indeed, it will be difficult not to intervene while Kitty is meowing its heart out. If necessary, arm yourself with earplugs, headphones or construction shells (!) so you won’t hear your feline opera singer anymore. If you live in an apartment, you should notify your neighbours of the process. Every member of your household must also ignore the cat.

It may take more than 14 days of ignoring the cat perfectly before it stops meowing. However, most cats will realize that their tricks don’t work and will stop sooner than that. The time needed for this behaviour to stop varies with each individual. Don’t give up!

The following is very important when undertaking this process.

I must tell you about the extinction burst, a concept born of behavioural psychology. It is the pivotal moment in the process of stopping nighttime meowing. The extinction burst is the moment when the animal realizes that its usual behaviour no longer works and amplifies the behaviour in order to get what it wants. It means it’s working. The meowing can change, become louder, longer, more insistent or all of these together. The last thing to do is to lose patience then. If you yield to this higher intensity of the behaviour, you’ll be telling the cat that a simple « meow » won’t do, but « MRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWRRAAWWWWWWAAAAWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! » will, and you’ll have a problem that’s even more irritating than it used to be. In short, do not give into the extinction burst.

If your cat continues to meow desperately, know that there are many ways to recover your sleep. Contact us; it will be our pleasure to help you!

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