Vocalizing is one way for your cat to communicate with you and with other animals. Some cats “talk” more than others, but most cats do make noise some of the time. We’re all familiar with the meaning of hissing and growling, but there are also many other sounds that your cat is capable of, and a variety of reasons for vocalizing.
If your cat’s behavior changes suddenly, the first thing you should do is take her to your veterinarian for a thorough health examination. Cats often hide symptoms of illness until they’re seriously ill. Any change in behavior may be an early indication of a medical problem. A new vocalizing behavior, in particular, may indicate physical discomfort stemming from an urgent need for medical attention.
Oriental breeds, such as the Siamese, are known to be very vocal. If your cat has a pointed face and a long, lean body, chances are she has some oriental heritage, so “talking” may be a part of her character.
Some cats “talk” because they know they’ll get a reaction. People may talk back, feed her, yell at her, pick her up and lock her in another room, or pick her up and soothe her. All of these responses will encourage an attention-seeking cat. To discourage this behavior, simply ignore your cat when she does this, and when she is quiet, pour on the love, feed her or give her some treats. This will teach your cat which behaviors you would like her to continue.
- Spay or Neuter: Spaying or neutering will rid your cat of those hormonal urges to go out and seek a mate. This will result in a calmer, friendlier cat.
- Play: Make sure your cat has plenty to do when you’re no home. Also establish plenty of time for play when you are home. See “Cat Toys” and how to use them.
- Window Seat: Be sure your cat has a view of the outdoors and a sunny place to lie. Cats like to watch birds, so putting a bird feeder outside this window is likely to make it a favorite spot for your cat.
- Scavenger Hunt: Give your cat a game to play by hiding bits of dry food around the house. Hide the food in paper bags, boxes and behind open doors. This will give her exercise and keep her busy. This is especially good to do right before the family leaves the house for the day.
- Attention: Try to give your cat extra love and attention.
Sometimes after the death or departure of a person or animal in your cat’s life, she will vocalize to express her grief. This can be a normal part of the grieving process. The best thing you can do for her is keep her schedule the same (or as close as possible) and spend some extra cuddle and playtime with her. With time, this problem should take care of itself.
If your cat is new to your home or has just gone through a change (move, new person/animal in the household, person moved out)and has just started her talkative behavior, be patient. This may be happening due to the transition and will stop on its own if the behavior is not encouraged. Remember, even scolding can be perceived by your cat as attention, and thus encourage the behavior.
If your cat is especially vocal at night, make sure she has pleny to do during the day. Consider setting dinnertime for the time right before your bedtime. A well fed kitty is often a sleepy kitty. Consider using a time release food dispenser during the night if you feel your cat’s talking is driven by hunger.