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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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 Vocalization




Did we say, IGNORE, unwanted behaviors?

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How to Turn Off the Cat Alarm


What is it?
If your cat seems to be meowing (me-now-ing) for no apparent reason, first consider a thorough physical exam and medical work-up to make sure that your cat is not in any discomfort or medical danger.
 
If your cat receives a clean bill of health, then most likely your talkative cat has learned that vocalization is one way to get your attention, food, valet service in and out of doors, etc. Once your cat has learned persistence pays off - even some of the time, then persistence it is!

 

Ignore vocalization instead of unintentionally rewarding it with eye contact, talking, feeding or any other type of attention. 


Scenario One
your cat starts meowing. You check the alarm clock and it's 2:00 AM. You shush your cat and go back to bed but the meowing continues. You think maybe your cat wants food. You get up to make sure your cat has food and water.  You go back to bed. The meowing continues --- with no end in sight!

Scenario Two:  You are tired of your cat waking you in the middle of the night so you put your cat outside of the bedroom.  You are awakened by your bedroom door rattling. Could someone be breaking into your house? You turn on the light and see your cat's paw under the door.
 
Why do cats make noise to get our attention?

If you accidentally reward unwanted behaviors such as excessive vocalization or door banging by providing food, attention, or play in an attempt to stop the racquet, these rewards may increase future outbursts. Just like the jackpots in Las Vegas, intermittent rewards create persistent behaviors.
 
What to do
  • To prevent night time activity, provide sufficient daytime activities. Add more play and exercise during the day and early evening.
  • Give your cat a big meal before you go to bed to help sleeping through the night.
  • Do not reward vocalization unless you like it and it is not a problem for you.
  • Do not use physical punishment that may increase anxiety and unwanted behaviors


 

Feline Older Adult - 7 years and older [1]

  • Appetite changes - Provide food puzzle and food toys. Do not overfeed by providing only food your cat likes the best. Monitor weight, food and water intake. Take cat to the veterinarian if increased thirst, weight gain or loss.

  • Increased Vocalization - may occur if your cat if feeling some discomfort or other stress. Take cat to the veterinarian for a comprehensive exam and diagnostic testing.

  • Cat Resources - Provide your cat lots of comfy beds, tall scratching posts, horizontal cardboard scratching areas, and protect against weather that is too hot or too cold.

  • Behavior Changes are often the first sign of a physical problem. Aging cats may require special diets and medication prescribed by a veterinarian to lengthen life and quality of life.

 

[1] American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Feline Behavior Guidelines 2004


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