We love chatting with our cats, asking them questions and getting a cute purr, chirp, or meow in response. Cats appreciate the feedback as well, learning to bond with us through this call and response. However, some cats meow too much, which we call hypervocalization.
Hypervocalization can have many causes. Some breeds, such as Siamese cats, simply vocalize more than other breeds. In other cases, hypervocalization might be a learned behavior, or it might be a sign that your pet needs medical help.
Hypervocalization can be incredibly annoying for some cat owners. As sympathetic beings, we have a natural urge to react when we hear a cat’s pitiful meow. However, by reacting to a cat’s hypervocalization, the cat might learn that meowing, even for thirty minutes straight, can get them what they want.
For instance, a cat might drag its favorite toy away and meow over and over, hoping that you’ll come find and play with it. A meowing cat might also want food or to be let outside. The meowing can go on for absurd amounts of time, making it difficult to ignore. Still, the worst thing an owner can do is reward the behavior.
Instead, practice ignoring your cat’s hypervocalization. When your cat meows too much, try using earbuds to block out the noise. You can also isolate your cat in a room, helping to reduce the noise and teach them that meowing will not be rewarded.
You might also try anticipating your cat’s meowing by playing with them and feeding them first. This will hopefully give your cat the stimulation they need and satisfy them appropriately, before the vocalizing begins.
Cats in Serious Need
In other cases, a cat meowing too much might be a sign that your cat is in pain. This can be difficult to determine, as cats tend to hide their pain. However, if your cat already hypervocalizes, you might look for some key indicators of pain.
Obviously, limping, reluctance to jump, and other signs of immobility can be signs of trouble. Reluctance to groom, crankiness and self-isolation, restlessness, over grooming a certain spot, and reduced appetite can also be signs of cat pain. If you notice any of these signs with your overly chatty cat, take them to a vet right away!
Another cause of hypervocalization occurs with older cats, when the house is dark. As cats age, their senses diminish, making it harder for them to navigate your house at night. An older cat might hypervocalize when lost in the dark, looking for their owner and a little guidance. Try calling out to them, keeping them in your room at night, or simply placing a few nightlights to help them out.
If your cat hypervocalizes without seeming to want anything in particular, be safe and see a vet as soon as possible. Consistent pain can be a sign of serious illness, and treatments are available to help relieve a cat in pain. Contact us if you have any questions about a noisy cat, and check out our other Care Guides for loads useful tips about caring for your favorite companion.