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By demand meowing, I of course mean that loud, aggressive, nonstop meowing.

I understand that you can positively reinforce silence by rewarding a cat when it stops meowing (eg, "Training your cat to be quiet"), but I don't understand what amount of time to allow after a meow for the reward - if she gets a reward as soon as she is silent for one second, doesn't that still reward the meowing? I'm also not sure whether responding to a "polite request" reinforces demanding requests, or if these different meows can be treated differently in training.

For example, we give her dry food throughout the day, but if we just top it up at various times, it may sit too long and not get eaten. If she tells us that she wants some biscuits, that is helpful. She also gets canned meat once a day, but lately she's started to become very demanding up to 2 hours before the usual feeding time. We always wait it out, and make sure to give her the food once there is a gap in the meowing, but it is a great distraction up to that point and so far hasn't diminished the behaviour.

Similarly, we don't want to leave the door open all day; if she wants to go out, it's helpful for her to tell us. But if it is not convenient for us to let her out, because we're going out or to bed, she starts to get very loud and demanding. We do keep a clean litter box inside for her, and sometimes we'll place her in it in this situation, but it has never proven effective (maybe because she doesn't actually want to go to the toilet!). (NB she has never had any issue with using a litter box, and will use it no problem when it is the only option [after moving to a new house, for example], but she does strongly prefer doing her business outside).

Is there a way to stop her from vocally demanding something without dissuading her from politely asking, or is this just too confusing for her? Will us waiting out the nonstop meowing eventually get her to stop doing it in general? Or is there perhaps a way to distract the cat into forgetting about what she so adamantly wants in the first place?

  • 1
    One thing we have been trying is to "misunderstand" ours... that is, a soft meow or other requests-for-attention we will respond to as best we know, loud and repeated demanding meows obviously means she wants to be snatched up and slung over a shoulder, or held high in the air, or maybe just replied to - and not whatever she was trying to demand. The idea is to get across to her that demanding loudly cannot work, because the humans don't understand, and meowing more won't fix that. This is a comment and not an answer because it's an attempt in progress, so no proof it will work. – Megha Aug 2 '17 at 7:45
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We have several Siamese (a breed known to be more talkative than normal), and when they want something WE KNOW (even when we don't know what it is that they want). We've also done some basic voice training commands.

Is there a way to stop her from vocally demanding something without dissuading her from politely asking, or is this just too confusing for her?

I'm not sure how you would differentiate this in the training enough to make it clear to her without being confusing. The difference is really just "don't meow enough to be annoying" and I (as another human) wouldn't know exactly where that line is.

The only way I think it would work would be to instead train her to some behavior that

  • when repeated by an annoyed cat isn't going to annoy you
  • would serve the purpose of "asking"

So, for example, sometimes our most bossy cat will just sit quietly by her food bowl when she's hungry and wait for food to magically appear. We laugh at her, but we could encourage that behavior since it's a non-annoying way for her to tell us that she's hungry.

Will us waiting out the nonstop meowing eventually get her to stop doing it in general?

In my experience, no. Eventually you'll learn to tune it out or get used to it (or lock yourself in the bedroom or turn the TV/radio up louder).

Or is there perhaps a way to distract the cat into forgetting about what she so adamantly wants in the first place?

Sometimes? It depends on what the cat wants and what you're trying to do. Usually Ginger yells at us for attention, so if I put her in my lap that's close enough to what she wanted that she quiets down for awhile, even if I'm not actually paying attention to her. If the cat is bored (which may be why she wants to go outside), try an interactive wand toy. If the cat is hungry, try a puzzle feeder with a small amount of food. I'm not exactly giving the cat what she wants, but I am giving her a small part of what she wants, while stimulating her mind and providing excitement. I think these things help a lot for a typical bored housecat.

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    I've heard Siamese cats that literally would not shut up (and seemed to be yowling for no reason at all)! Yes, "don't meow enough to be annoying" is somewhat right (as is "don't meow at times that are annoying"), but it really is about the nature of the meow - the same way that a dog can bark once softly or bark continuously and loudly, and I have seen dogs trained to respond to a "quiet!" command. Not so easy with a cat though... – nxx Mar 16 '14 at 2:26
  • @nxx On second thought I'm having some ideas about training, so I'll make an edit. – Zaralynda Mar 16 '14 at 4:15
5

I know I am a bit late to the party but a technique I have found helpful is to give a stern forceful command, such as "NO!" when the demand meowing starts, if it continues, repeat the command but add in an additional discipline of a squirt of water. This can be a small water pistol or a spray bottle. Just plain tap water, It will not hurt the cat but will discipline them & teach them that the demanding is not tolerated. After a few times, the command alone will be enough to silence them or the sight of the spray bottle will cause them to stop.

You can reward polite meowing or request with whatever the cat is looking for (outside-time, food, attention, praise) This will let the cat know what is a more acceptable way to ask instead of demanding. I really do not know what you consider acceptable meowing, neither will the cat at first but it will learn tone, pattern, etc. Whatever constitutes as acceptable behavior.

  • Welcome to Pets Stack Exchange :) – Henders Aug 24 '18 at 8:08
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If you know your cat is meowing to demand something it shouldn't have, you can modify that behavior by ignoring the meow. I have actually seen that this kind of conditioning work. If my cats are demanding food and I feel I've given them the food they need, I ignore subsequent requests for food. I do see that while they still meow at me for food, they are much more likely to focus this behavior on someone else who they think will respond to their requests.

  • Just it can be so distracting! But thanks, I am making more effort to just ignore or refocus her behaviour as well as only giving her what she wants when she is quiet. – nxx Mar 20 '14 at 2:02
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Ignore any meow as best you can. Hiss if it gets to much - they understand that. Meow but not to much will not work - as no reaction from you will trigger an extinction burst every time - that is: the behavior will get stronger and its duration before she resigns will get longer. Instead teach the cat an 'asking behavior' you like and are able to notice frequently (for example sitting quietly in a certain spot when asking to be let out). Teaching a new behavior to ask for something will work, if you are able to fullfill her wish very often very fast till the behavior is established in her thinking as much more successfull than the old behavior (the one you want to get rid off).

If it gets boring: you might even combine it with trick training - my cat quietly sits in the steps near the door, will then sit up or wave or lick his nose on command to be let out. If he falls back to meowing instead, my hand that was just reaching for the door handle will be removed in the same second and if he tries that again, I will walk away.

This is very similar to the advise you already got, might bring a few ideas how to handle such a behavior change at the same time.

2

I've only began the process of trying to adjust the cat's behaviour, but I've already began to see signs of effectiveness.

Before I was giving a firm "no!" or "stop!" command, and never really sticking to one command - just vocalizing my frustration, which to the cat must have only seemed like I was recognizing her behaviour, not requesting it to stop.

Now, I've been mostly ignoring all meowing, which shows the cat that meowing lacks effectiveness. When it comes time to go get her food in the kitchen, I have a different approach. If she meows on my way to her food, I immediately turn around and return to where I came from. I'll sit back down on the couch or in front of the computer for 30 seconds. Then, I will get up and start the process again. This requires some patience, as you may do this several times. I sometimes give a little hiss as I return to my couch/computer. Eventually, she kept quiet the entire time while I prepped her food. Now she has been much less vocal about getting the food.

As I've said, I've only began doing this a few days ago. But it seems that ignoring her bad behaviour and rewarding her good behaviour is setting things in the right direction. Hope this helps.

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edited

cats meowing when they trying to communicate something to you, whether just want to inform you that she wants something, or not comfortable with something, or curious. first thing first, make sure shes meowing not because shes uncomfortable about something, because if it is, you need to get rid of her uncomfortable things first or she wont stop meowing no matter what.

they said my answer is not specific yet, so i edited it (i'm a total rookie thanks for the comments). having a pet means its a deal between you and your pet. normally a cat will meowing if get left behind in the house when youre out, they dont like to be alone, so add a friend for the cat so she has another cat to play with. my guess, there must be something outside thats not in the house. whether she thinks shes cant run freely like in the outside maybe not enough space for play (several cat types love to play actively), or there's a certain things outside that she usually plays with (you can bring this home, or find something similar), or another cat that she's interesting with(when shes in heats, cat just want to do it no matter what, and if she cant she keeps madly meowing, its your decision then). i can't give a single answer cause living things really complicated, it's your part now to take a look closer to the characteristic of your cat.

  • This discusses a good range of general reasons why cats meow, but the question is how to stop one specific type of meowing without stopping others, which isn't addressed in this answer. Please keep in mind the specific issues being asked about when answering, and be sure to address them. Welcome to Pets.SE! – Allison C Jan 30 at 14:24

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