Nonstop cat meowing is the worst thing to deal with as a cat owner. I say this because I’ve had cats my whole life and while cleaning up cat puke, changing kitty litter, picking up dead rodents and birds, and spending thousands of dollars on visits to the vet over the years have all been plenty of reasons to rethink being a cat owner, it’s actually the major inconvenience of a problem I can’t seem to solve that makes me want to tear my hair out, paste it to volley ball and call that a cat instead.
It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that each cat is different and being a cat owner means dealing with your cat’s individual issues on a case by case basis. After all, they aren’t just a source of my amusement, they are a living, breathing being and have needs just like any other animal on the planet. The good news is that these needs are pretty basic and I learned that if you just figure out which needs are more prominent with a particular cat, you can find a lovely symbiosis and loving relationship with one another.
Cats are not humans
It’s important to remember that cats are not humans and you can’t attach human emotions or needs to them. People like to think their cat is “so smart” but the truth is that they aren’t. Cats are dumb. They don’t understand why your roommate is not home to play with them, they don’t understand why you’re changing their feeding schedule, and they don’t understand why you are ignoring them or at mad at them. Fortunately, you can train them to understand the relationship between their actions and your reactions with a little persistence and time. In fact, training your cat is a much easier task than it seems at first.
1. Feed Your Cat
Yes, of course, you’ve thought of this already. The thing is, oftentimes people underfeed their cats for fear of their kitty getting overweight. If your cat is crying a lot, though, it could mean that they are hungry a lot. Take a look at their bodies — do they seem too skinny?
When I first moved in with my girlfriend, her cat was pretty large. In fact, I remember my girlfriend saying he was 20 lbs! For a 3 year old cat, that was bizarre. He looked like a pear and we gave him all sorts of insulting nicknames like “tubby”, “tons of fun”, “god’s gift to canines”, “thanksgiving”, etc. It’s a good thing he’s not human cuz not only would we be the meanest couple on the planet, but we would have given him a serious complex about his weight.
We decided to put him on a “smaller portions, 6 times a day” diet and it worked so well that he lost all that weight and looked like a very healthy young cat. He got more active and more cheerful, and became a really wonder cat to have around the house. The only problem with this solution was that now he is much higher maintenance because he cries every 3-4 hours and, since I work from home, I get to be the one to take care of him all day long. GREAT, I thought. At first, I couldn’t stand it and literally wanted to strangle him quite a few times before I realized that he’s just a dumb animal and is hungry. I chalked it up to the fact that, since he’s now on a new schedule, I need to stick to it or else he’s going to remind me.
Ok, that worked for a while, I could put up with the crying every few hours to be fed. But then he kept waking us up in the middle of the night when we were trying to sleep because he’s on a 4-hour eating schedule and we’re on a 8-hour sleep schedule. When you don’t get enough sleep AND you constantly have to feed your cat throughout the day, you begin resenting them and start to wonder why you have them as a pet. I noticed he was losing a bit too much weight as well and finally realized that the only solution was to feed him bigger portions less often. It’s a happy medium and I call it the “Goldilocks Schedule” because it’s a feeding schedule that is “just right” for my cat and me.
2. Your Cat Needs Attention
Cats need lots of love. Sometimes it’s the feeling of being held, sometimes it’s cuddling on a bed, sometimes it’s playing, sometimes it’s feeding… The bottom line is that they need attention. If you make a habit of ignoring your cat, you run into problems. Sure, they will be quiet after feeding, but what happens when the food coma wears off? They start to cry and get clingy.
Some signs of needing attention are:
- Scratching furniture or the floor while looking at you
- Scratching/kneading your chair or leg while staring at you
- Sitting in the middle of the room, meowing in your direction
I work from home and every minute of my time counts. I’ve had to master the arts of both maximizing my time and staying on task in order to be successful with my home business. If I didn’t, I would either be poor or working for someone else, which I really don’t ever want to do again. Sure it’s great having control over my own schedule, but it also means I have to take care of my damn cat all day and good lord is he annoying sometimes.
What I’ve found is that when he does any of the above signs, and I’ve already fed him, all I need to do is let him sit in my lap while I type. I’m sorta skinny so my bony legs aren’t very comfortable to him, so I’ve found putting a pillow on my legs and letting him sleep there works just fine. Sometimes I can’t have him in my way, but I know he wants to be near me, so I put his cat bed on a chair next to mine and he seems to like that. It’s a compromise — he gets random petting sessions from me through the hour, I get to do my work without interruption.
3. Your Cat Is Bored
Sometimes our cat doesn’t need food and doesn’t want to be held or pet or sleep near me. The next step that works wonders is playing with him with a string or stick-with-a-feather. He LOVES the stick-with-a-feather. He does his rampant swiping and hissing at the stick, runs and hides, hunts and strikes, and darts across the apartment so much that he tires himself out after a few minutes and falls asleep. It’s got to be the easiest way to control his crying, and fun too!
Here are some ways to cure cat boredom:
- Play a game
- Introduce a new game
- Introduce another cat
- Change the layout of the environment (good for your soul too!)
- Offer some catnip
- Allow them to get near windows
Cats love to people watch. And bird watch. And cat watch. And dog watch. This may increase cat meowing, though. But at least it’s the sort of meowing that isn’t directed at you and becomes a bit more tolerable, especially since it’s amusing.
4. Cats Get Sick
It’s easy to fall into the trap that cats are somehow invincible creatures that never get colds or diseases. The fact is, however, that they are just as prone as humans. Luckily, they don’t make much of a fuss when they are sick, usually; they just puke or sneeze or sleep too much. It’s important to take note of these things, though, cuz if this type of behavior gets excessive then they start to ache a lot and begin to meow.
I’ve never dealt with it myself, but I have dealt with outdoor cats with broken limbs or deep wounds from fights with other animals or being hit by cars. If you have a habit of ignoring your cat, then you might not notice a wound until they begin crying excessively. But in that case the question becomes “why do you have a cat if you’re going to ignore it??”
If you cat is crying excessively and the first 3 things on this list aren’t helping, they may be sick. Most vets only charge around $40 for an exam, so it’s worth it to at least make sure your cat is in good shape. If they are, the vet may suggest your cat is depressed, in which case you need to work on #2 and #3 more often.