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

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