If your cat constantly meows begging for food, affection, or just walking along an empty corridor, then it is very important for you to know how to humanely silence a cat. In fact, it often happens that the owners reinforce or reinforce this behavior of the cat, without realizing it.
Meow could gain a foothold, like a conditioned reflex, if you paid attention to the cat when it meows. Even if, when the cat meowed, you threw slippers at it, yelled at it or ran with a broom – the cat still got what she achieved with this meow – your undivided attention. And if you also fed the cat according to its first “meow”, then you definitely let it know that the meow will be rewarded.
Eliminate Medical Causes of Unwanted Behavior
As always, we begin to “treat” any behavioral disorder using a veterinary examination. Indeed, meowing can be caused by a host of medical reasons, especially if the intensity of meowing has increased suddenly. At the veterinary examination, you should make sure that the cat does not experience pain. Older cats that are hard of hearing or who experience age-related cognitive dysfunction may start to meow more for no reason.
Teach your cat to be calm
How to do it? It is both very simple and very difficult at the same time. The fact is that this process requires great patience.
You need to wait out the meow and not pay attention to the cat until it is silent. When she shuts up, immediately reward her. At first, the periods when she is silent will be very short, but if you reward the cat only when she does not meow, she will eventually understand that silence is rewarded, and meow does not work. Gradually, you can increase the silence time for which the cat receives a reward from a few seconds to a dozen minutes.
The easiest way to train a cat to remain silent is to clicker. Clicker is an animal training tool that makes a clicking sound and marks the correct behavior. Click with the clicker, every time the cat falls silent, and immediately offer her a reward. Clicker training is a very effective way to tell the cat what you want from her.
Below is a video demonstrating how clicker training is used to teach a cat to stay silent. Dr. Sophia Yin’s video shows how a cat learns that meowing does not bring her any reward, and peace brings reward.
Be patient and consistent in training your cat
If your cat is used to the fact that meow is constantly rewarded with attention and food, then you will need a lot of patience to get the first results, but since you are dealing with a very smart animal, the cat will eventually understand which behavior is beneficial and which is not.
In correcting behavior, consistency is very important. Do not send mixed messages to your cat! Do not encourage feline meowing behavior, even outside of training.
If you train your cat to be silent, and your children, on the first meow, open the door for the cat or give food, the cat will not stop displaying this behavior, but only reinforce it. If you train a cat at one time on positive reinforcement, and at another time shout at it for meowing or breaking loose and chasing it, then the cat receives a mixed message about whether her meow is working or not and she does not understand how to behave her further. Do not put a cat with a bowl of food if it continues to meow, trying to make you hurry with feeding. Inconsistency in training creates an upset for everyone involved.
If you and all your family members can follow the rules and do not reinforce the cat’s meow, then in a month or two you will get a good result.
Undoubtedly, if you do not initially begin to reinforce unwanted behavior in a cat, then you will not have to wean it. For example, I teach all cats that enter my house that I don’t open the doors when they meow. This allows me to close them in any room or to close them myself, if I need it, and at the same time not listen to the loud meow and the sounds of digging with sharp claws under the door.