The first time you hear your kitten meow, you swoon. But then you notice that this once-adorable behavior isn’t fading away as your kitten gets older—the meows only seem to be getting louder, longer, and more frequent. Now you’re wondering: How do you turn this tiny four-legged alarm clock off so that the constant meowing doesn’t continue into adulthood?
To stop a kitten from meowing, stop responding to her meows and only reward her when she’s quiet. Invest in toys (boredom), keep her on a meal schedule (hunger), invest in an automatic water dispenser (thirst), clean out her litter box (urge to relieve), and get her fixed (mating).
Your cat’s nonstop meowing may not give you a headache like a dog’s barking might, but let’s face it—it’s extremely annoying! To learn about why your kitten meows so often and how to get her to stop, read on!
Why Do Cats Meow?
Kittens are born with fully-functioning vocal cords. But since kittens are also born blind, deaf, and unable to walk, they’re entirely dependent on their mothers for at least the first few weeks of life. So when a newborn kitten meows, she’s trying to communicate her needs with her mother.
A kitten’s meow to her mother could mean:
- I’m hungry!
- I’m cold!
- I’m scared!
As a kitten becomes more independent and spends less time with her mother, this meowing behavior begins to fade. Your kitten can now find a warm blanket, a place to hide, or her bowl of kibble by herself. Your kitten’s mother will also stop responding to the meows, which discourages this behavior over time.
By the time your cat is a full-grown adult, meowing—a vocalization that loosely translates to, “I need something!”—is no longer useful when directed at other cats. Instead, adult cats rely on other vocalizations (like hissing or growling) to communicate their feelings with other felines.
But that doesn’t mean that cats don’t meow once they’re adults. An adult cat merely redirects these meows to those they need something from—in this case, that’s probably you! Your grown cat may meow at you to let you know she’s hungry, wants attention, or say “hello.”
Here’s an adorable video of young kittens meowing mercilessly to get their mother’s attention!
Why Is My Kitten So Vocal?
You didn’t know it at the time, but as your kitten was weaning from her mother, you were slowly assuming the role of her “primary caregiver.” Chances are, your kitten merely redirected her requests for food and attention to you during this transitional period.
But now it seems like she’s meowing louder, more frequently, and holding these vocalizations out for longer than before. As it turns out, an excessively-vocal kitten meows because she can and because it works!
If your kitten meows because she’s hungry, and you pour her a bowl of kibble immediately, she learns that meowing at you will get her what she wants—in this case, food (a classic case of reinforcement). You’re training your kitten that meowing will get you to bend to her demands.
Of course, a kitten whose meows you cannot seem to quiet may also be vocalizing for other reasons. Aside from hunger, attention, and greeting you, an overly-vocal kitten may be in pain, bored, or sick. It’s also worth noting that certain cat breeds (specifically Siamese cats) are instinctively more vocal.
How to Stop a Kitten From Meowing
The good news is that a kitten is far more impressionable than a cat. That means you may be able to get a handle on this excessive meowing before it becomes a hard-to-break habit that your cat carries until adulthood.
Let’s talk about a few ways to stop a kitten from meowing (depending on why she’s meowing in the first place).
While your kitten is growing into her new-found independence, she’ll never be a truly “solitary” animal. Your kitten will turn to you for comfort and affection. Reward your attention-seeking kitten only when she’s quiet, and don’t assume that because she’s a cat, she’ll be aloof. Kittens crave cuddles, pets, and scratches just as much as dogs do. Set aside quality time during the day to bond with your kitten—this will also strengthen your relationship as she gets older!
Bored cats aren’t just needy, but also mischievous! If your cat is meowing because she’s bored, it’s a clear sign that you may not be giving her enough playtime, she lacks mental stimulation, or she has a lot of pent-up energy leftover. Try to give your kitten at least two 15-minute play sessions during the day. Laser toys, wands, stuffed animals, and even cat towers allow your kitty to explore and get exercise (while also keeping her entertained).
Just like your kitten would meow at her mother to tell her she was hungry, your kitten’s meows could be a sign she needs to eat. Ensure that you’re sticking to a strict feeding schedule, feeding her enough to satisfy her hunger, and offering food often enough (2-4 times a day). Offer treats between meals to hold her over and feed her before you go to bed to limit nighttime meows.
Your kitten may not drink much water during the day, especially if you’re feeding her wet food with a high water content (70-80% water). A kitten needs to drink at least 2-4 ounces of water a day, so your kitten could be meowing to let you know that her water bowl is empty. An automatic water dispenser can ensure your kitten has constant water access without forcing her to meow at you to remind you to refill it.
Urge to Relieve
Kittens are quite tidy creatures. The thought of pooping or peeing in a litter box that you haven’t scooped recently or isn’t deep enough (at least 2″) to cover her droppings may trigger your kitten to meow—she needs to go to the bathroom, but she has nowhere to go! Keep the litter box fresh (and her meows at a low) by scooping the litter box daily and setting up more boxes around the house in case one is too dirty for her liking.
She may still be a baby in your eyes, but a 4-month old kitten may already be sexually mature. In other words: Your kitten’s meowing and other vocalizations could be her (or his) attempt at finding a mate. Having your kitten fixed—neutered for male cats and spayed for female cats—can reduce the urge to mate and, thus, phase out these meows.
How to Stop a Cat From Meowing at Night
It’s easy to stop your cat from meowing when you’re awake and can give her what she needs. But when you’re fast asleep at night, the last thing you want to do is get out of bed while half-asleep to appease your cat’s demands!
The best way to stop your cat from meowing at night is by developing a proactive bedtime routine, including:
- Scheduling her last meal-time for right before you go to bed
- Ensuring her water bowl is full
- Playing (or cuddling) with her for 15 minutes to tire her out
- Cleaning out her litter box before hitting the hay
Most importantly, don’t react when your cat or kitten meows at night. Every time you get out of bed to give her what she wants or even respond vocally, you’re only encouraging her to continue this behavior on a nightly basis.
Kittens are naturally vocal, but they save most of their “meows” for you! While it’s difficult to stop your kitten from meowing entirely, there are things you can do to limit this behavior.
The first thing you want to do is figure out why your kitten is crying in the first place. If the reason is a dirty litter box or an empty water bowl, immediately rectify the situation to prevent accidents or dehydration. But if your kitten is meowing for playtime, demand for a snack, or attention, wait until she quiets down before giving her what she wants.
- ASPCA: Meowing and Yowling
- Wikipedia: Reinforcement
- Chewy: Do You Know How Much To Feed a Kitten? The Ultimate Guide To Kitten Food Portions
- Pet Place: Cat Calorie Calculator: How to Calculate Your Cat’s Daily Calorie Intake
- The Nest: How Much Should Kittens Drink?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.