How Can I Train My Cat Not To Meow, Especially Near My Baby's Room?

by Kirsty
(Northamptonshire, England)

I have two Burmese cats, Oscar male (6) and Lulu female (3) they are both neutered, unrelated, and I have had them from kittens. Until December 09 they have been the 'babies' in the household.

In late autumn 09 Lulu started over grooming. When my daughter was born in Dec 09 Oscar went off his food and Lulu's over grooming got severely worse. I took them both to the vet. Oscar has now regained all his weight with help of feliway. Lulu went on a course of steroids, which helped her over grooming. She still grooms a lot, but not as much, and slowly she is looking less bald between her legs. (she had also been over grooming her legs, which are now completely recovered).

Being Burmese, they are of course very vocal cats, but I am particularly struggling with Lulu. She is often making an awful noise, an extended yowl sort of meow. She has never had a particularly elegant voice, and I know she is not being aggressive, its not that sort of yowl. The problem is she announces herself whenever she enters a room, especially if it is quiet. She is also coming in from outside, and often heading straight upstairs to sit outside my daughter's room (the door is kept closed when my daughter is in there alone, and the cats are never alone with baby) and meow.

She seems to meow a lot more when the house is quiet. She has repeatedly woken my daughter up from nighttime sleep, and daytime naps. I am anxious that my husband and I may actually have trained her to do this inadvertently as when baby was really small, we would immediately rush to Lulu to stop her meowing, and waking the baby.

Is there anything I can do to reverse/change this behaviour?

I am very seriously considering getting the cats re homed, as this is not a situation which can continue on forever!

I have never seen either cat display any aggression towards my daughter, and when we are around they will happily sit with us, and even let her touch and stroke them. She has never been able to do this without us being there to intervene before it gets too rough.

Both cats sleep in bed with us. they are allowed outdoors, and have a cat flap, but tend to be predominantly indoor cats. They are both trainable, for example we have trained Oscar to use the human toilet, a couple of years ago he was spraying in the basin, and this has now completely stopped.

Both cats are a healthy weight, eat and drink well. Treated monthly to prevent fleas and worms, up to date with all vaccinations. Very happy in each others company, and are often curled up asleep together.

Hope that is sufficiant background info!

Many many thanks in advance for reading this little essay, and any advice you can offer!


Reply from Liz (Editor): I'm sorry you're having such a hard time with all this, a new baby often takes a while for pets to get used to.

I think you could be right in that you've unintentionally "trained" Lulu to meow outside your daughter's bedroom, as she realized it would get her attention. From what you've said she sounds in very good health, so it doesn't sound like it's a health problem that's causing this.

My usual advice to stop excessive cat meowing would be to ignore it. However, in your case this obviously won't work as the baby can't ignore it!

I'd suggest, whenever she goes upstairs and starts meowing at the baby's door, that you go to her, say "NO" very firmly, remove her from her position and then shut her in a room where she won't disturb the baby (maybe the kitchen so she can still get her food and go in / out). Don't give her any more attention until she's quiet - then let her out and give her some fuss.

You may be able to hear her in the kitchen, but hopefully it will be far enough away so that she doesn't wake the baby. If you can hear her, it's really important that you ignore her. The more attention she gets by meowing, even if it's "negative" attention, the more she'll do it. She needs to learn that yowling won't get her extra attention.

Here are some other pages that may help:

How to deal with excessive cat meowing

Cat Problems - Constant Meowing at Night

Cat Behavior Question - How Can We Stop Our Cat Meowing Constantly In The Middle Of The Night?

Best of luck with this difficult cat behavior, I know how frustrating it can be but it's doubly so when you've got a baby being disturbed aswell. Bengals are clever, and as you rightly said trainable, so with some persistence I'm sure you'll be able to get round this.

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