Pet Connection Q&A: Chatty kitten needs to be taught restraint

10/30/2012 12:00 AM

10/29/2012 4:23 PM

A few months ago, we adopted a kitten from the shelter. We are not inexperienced pet owners. My husband and I both grew up with animals, and we've had many pets during our 32-year marriage. The problem? The kitten is very noisy. She follows us everywhere and has an "opinion" on everything. If we don't pet her or feed her, she gets worse. How can we get her to pipe down?

Some cats are chattier than others. Indeed, "talkativeness" is an adored trait in the Siamese and other so-called Oriental breeds. If your kitten has a parent who's one of these breeds, then to a certain extent, you're just going to have to live with vocalization.

Some of the noisiness of a demanding cat is actually trained into the pet by people. If you accommodate her every time she demands to be fed, then you've taught her that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, even in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn. If you think your cat's chatty behavior is something you've taught her, then you can try some retraining.

Start by resolving not to give in to her demands, and I do mean resolve. If you ignore her yowling for a while and then give in, you've taught her that all she needs to do to get her way is to make more noise, not less. If you ignore the behavior completely, she'll stop using it to get her way.

Be aware, though, that this kitten is likely chattier than the norm. You can minimize some of her demanding behavior through retraining her, but you'll also have to do some retraining of yourself to learn to appreciate (or at least tolerate) her noise. You've made it through 32 years of marriage, which always involves a certain amount of acceptance and compromise.

Use these skills with your cat and you'll be fine.

Funny thing: In reading your question I found myself wishing my own cat were a little more outgoing. Ilario is a very large, long-haired orange tabby, but he's so reclusive, many visitors to my house never see or hear him at all.

– Gina Spadafori

The buzz

A year after tragedy, Ohio bans big exotics

A year after the release and subsequent killing of dozens of tigers, lions, wolves and bears from a private compound in Zanesville, Ohio, the state is poised to become one the strictest in the keeping of exotic pets. Owners of such animals have until Monday to register their animals with the state's department of agriculture, and a ban on the new possession such animals goes into effect Jan. 1. The few animals captured alive after the tragedy were sent to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and later were ordered returned to the widow of the man who released the animals before killing himself.

In the wake of a disaster, animals show levels of stress that may make readapting to family life difficult, according to a study of pets rescued from the devastated city of Fukushima, Japan, following the earthquake and tsunami. Scientists noted higher-than-normal levels of the stress hormone cortisol in dogs rescued from the area, and found that the animals seemed slow to form new companionship bonds. The study's lead author, Dr. Miho Nagasawa of Azabu University, likened the symptoms to post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Alabama's veterinary medical board voted down regulatory changes that opponents said would have shut down the state's four nonprofit spay-neuter clinics after public protest. Some vets felt that medical care was being compromised by the high number of surgeries in the clinics – up to 50 a day by a single veterinarian. Proponents of the clinics argued that the great danger was leaving animals free to breed in a state that reportedly kills 100,000 pets a year for population control. The regulations were proposed after a law with similar language was defeated in the state legislature.

– Dr. Marty Becker

Entertainment Videos


Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service