Training a Cat to Be Quiet: My Cat Meows Too Much, What Do I Do?

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By Dr Sophia Yin

Teaching QuietYou think YOUR cat meows too much?! Is he a Bengal or Siamese? 

Believe it or not, yelling at him or hurling (soft) objects usually doesn’t work. And even though it may make your feel better, in fact doing so may make the cat worse! Yelling and tossing things at them make it clear to the cats that meowing works to get them what they want… your attention! And if it’s food that they want, they know that getting your attention is the first step!

So how DO you quiet a cacophonous cryer? You follow the golden rule of changing behavior—reward the behavior you want, such as sitting quietly, and remove the reward for unwanted behavior—your attention. So when your cat yowls at you to give him what he wants, wait him out patiently and then only pet and provide attention when he sits quietly.

Sounds great, right?  At least it does on paper. Realistically taking those steps in that order can take forever. To speed up the process first train the cat to sit for treats and once he’s got that down, then wait him out when he’s noisy.

Teaching Cats to Sit

Training cats to sit is simple. Just take a yummy treat such as greenies, canned food on a spoon or in a syringe with the tip cut off, pieces of cheese, tuna, or, if it’s mealtime, a portion of his meal. When he knows you have it and is looking at you like “How do I get THAT,” just wait until he sits and when he does, deliver the treat right up to his face. Make sure you hold it in a way that he can eat it while he’s still sitting. Once he’s done, repeat. Also, once he’s sitting, you can give him a series of treats for remaining seated. Note this is way easier for cats than dogs because cats love to sit and remain seated whereas dogs love to sit and then pop right up! Next, walk a few steps away and repeat. The goal is that every time you walk away and  stop and the cat follows to catch up, when the cat catches up she quickly sits to earn a treat. Now, sit is starting to become a very rewarding behavior.

If you couldn’t get your cat to sit this way, you can also use the food as a lure to get your cat to raise her head and move her weight back to her rear. Place the treat right up to her face, then raise it and move it back so she shifts her weight back into a sit. Then hurry and reward her before she gets up. If needed, you can first reward her for just almost sitting and when she readily goes into this position then start rewarding her only when she sits all the way.

What if She’s Meowing When You’re Training Sit?

If your cat was meowing while your were working on sit, there are two options. You can wait until she’s quiet to reward her for sit or you can just reward her while she’s meowing now and then work in the rewarding quiet later. Generally it’s easiest to train one behavior at a time and she’ll learn to sit pretty quickly anyway—usually in a couple of 5 minutes sessions if she’s hungry, so if she doesn’t get quiet pretty quickly on her own just wait for the next step.

Training Quiet Behavior

Now that the cat has learned a calm stationary position, you can start rewarding for quiet behavior. Here’s an example with my cat Dante. Dante can vocalize longer than the most diligently trained singer but he’s learned that he doesn’t need to meow and scream whenever he wants something, instead we’ve rewarded sitting quietly. However, when something changes, such as when we have dogs visiting for a few days and he has to lay low, he seems to revert back to his meowing ways afterwards. So here’s the routine I use  for a couple of days to retrain him to be quiet.

Basically I wait out the long string of meows and when he’s quiet for a few seconds hurry up and reward. Dante’s a quick meower which makes it difficult to get a treat to him while he’s still quiet and before the next meow. As a result, I use a clicker and click to let him know when he’s being good and has earned a treat. At first I can have to reward him for just a 1-2 seconds of silence. But he quickly learns to be quiet for longer periods of time. In fact in the video you can see him looking around to see if it’s the head position that’s earning a reward because different head positions have worked in these training sessions in the past (link to lion head turn). He even gets confused at one point and thinks, maybe meowing does work. So he tries some quiet, tentative meows. But because I avoid rewarding the meows and then reward him when he’s quiet, he gets the message, that it’s the quiet, not the head turns or the meowing.

What happened the next day

Expect to have to wait out the meowing and reward quiet behavior many times during the day if you have a Herculean Howlers like Dante. But if you’re consistent and reward the quiet behavior with enough sequential treats for longer and longer silence, you can fix the meowing in just a few days. Because Dante’s had this training before, it took just 2 sessions of rewarding quiet behavior for him to remember to be quiet all day and the quiet, not shouting works to get him what he wants.


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63 responses to “Training a Cat to Be Quiet: My Cat Meows Too Much, What Do I Do?

  1. I never realized you could actually train a cat. I’m going to put my cat to the test. Thanks for this enlightening info!

  2. I have just seen your blog and its really great information.. I will implement this today itself !!!


  3. I have tried to clicker train my cat, but the problem is she is not interested in eating any of the treats I’ve offered to her… not even tuna. She is not at all food-motivated and is a very light eater. Is there something else I can offer as a reward?

    1. I wonder if cat nip would work. I have a cat who is a light eater and there is nothing that can motivate her but she sure loves cat nip. It wears off quickly so a few loose bits at a time. I am lucky with her though — no need to train as she’s fantastic. It’s the other two!

  4. Diane – have you tried a favourite toy as a reward? My cat loves one of those fishing rod type toys so I bring it out as a reward after the behaviour I am teaching! The reward is in the eyes of the cat …what are her favourite things?

    1. I have the same question! Please help! I don’t want to surrender my cat but we’ve lost so much sleep. I’ve trained her to sit and wait for her food, but it’s a different matter at 3:30am.

      1. Haha. I’m also having the same issue. Don’t know if it’s spring and being a Bengal. But it’s now terrifying our 2 year old daughter. He has always liked to meow at night. But the last few weeks it’s a bit out of control.

        1. For cat-specific problems, we recommend you go to the IAABC to find a certified consultant.

      2. Leave dry food out all night for cat, leave a low volume radio on. My friend says she met someone once that bought a cat collar on Amazon that quiets them down

    2. Its stress issue or boredom issue – and should be treated as that. If you tire it by playing before sleep and it still does it, then it does not feel secure at night (and want to sleep in your presence) or its lonely in ther way.
      It can also relieve pain in this way, thats why its needed to play it safe and maybe visiting a vet to check a cat is a good plan?
      Mine cat maws after using toilet and after eating.. everything is comunicated 😀

  5. I didn’t have to train my cat, KC, to avoid negative behavior, as she was the best cat ever!
    But she was trainable and a quick learner.

  6. This doesn’t work for my cat .. It sounds weird but he doesn’t care for treats and eats very little throughout the day .. He’s healthy, young and a very friendly happy cat and I know there’s nothing wrong with him health wise. Is there any other suggestions please before I get his voice removed

    1. Oh my God, I hope you didn’t do that! Vocalizing is how cats talk to us—one of the few ways they can communicate. Having their vocal cords cut is a horrendously cruel and inhumane thing to do. I pray you found a cat behavior therapist

  7. My cat starts waking at 04:00 and wakes the entire household with her constant meowing. I have to g lock her in the kitchen … if I can catch her, as she already knows this. I know what she wants, and that is outside. We have relocated and she now needs to stay indoors, I started letting them out a month after we got here, but she ends up in everyone else’s gardens and walks around our immediate neighbour’s house (who do not have pets themselves) and lies around on their beds! This meowing now continues throughout the entire day and is most annoying. Tried to ignore it at first, and now use a spray bottle, but she just licks herself dry and starts the moaning again. I cannot let her out, we have a large house so she is also not cooped up. Our other cat is quite happy inside (they used to be inside for their first 3 years of life, we moved for 2 years where they could go outside and we are back where they need to be kept inside. What is there to do. EVERY morning at 04:00, or earlier!

    1. Can you make some kind of screened area out a window or something similar that will take her outside, but keep her safely confined? Like enclosing a patio?

    2. Same/simliar problem, trying to transition the cat from indoors to outdoors. She is completely spoilt but is not clueless outside, our other two cats live outside and are rarely indoors so she is not alone when out there but she decides to meow all day and night to get inside when we put her out. Its becoming quite troublesome for us and the neighbours. Did you have any luck?

    3. Can you adjust feeding times? Maybe feed the kitties right before bed or offer a automatic dispenser for 4am… just to keep the kitties satisfied in some other way (distraction from going outside.)

  8. I have 2 cats reach the age of 15 and develop feline demetia. One lived to 20,the other tp almost 19. We bought a large dog cage and they were locked up at night in a separate room. It was tough but bearable. Now I have a third cat that has reached 15 and the same thing has happened but on a much larger scale. He’s always been a talker but know he never shuts up, day or night. i hate the thought of putting a healthy cat to sleep but I have zero tolerance for him and can’t stand the sound of his voice. I have had 2 absolutely wonderful cats die young in the past few years and found myself wishing it would have been him instead both times. We still have 2 others and they are no problem. He is so annoying I am getting to the point where I can’t stand him. At his age there is no training that will work and I’m not even sure he has dementia yet, he’s just a dick. Anyone have any ideas before I get him put down?

    1. I have the exact same problem. Day in and day out its all I hear. I do sympathize although putting a healthy cat down to end an inconvience is something I would never consider. Everyone that shares a home with a cat knows that meowing is the only way cats can communicate to us. Clearly he’s trying to tell you something. Have you had your cat checked out by a vet for arthritis or other ailments that might be causing him pain? My cat has arthritis which she gets treated for but mainly her meowing stems from hyperthyroidism which is very common in older cats. She’s being treated for that and doing very well. Now I think she’s spoiled from me fussing over her so much because her meowing instantly turns to purrs if I pay attention to her. This one is 16. My other cat was doing the same thing! She’s 17. My vet tried hard to convince me she had dementia, she was deaf etc etc… I didn’t believe a word of it. I think this “feline dementia” is a big cop out by lazy vets. What was actually wrong with her was such a simple fix. She wasn’t pooping enough. She was going so I didn’t realize she was constipated but after a naturalpath vet spent some actual time with us and came up with that, all I did was give her some canned pumpkin for a few days and the problem was solved!
      I suggest natural vets. Both my cats have been helped a lot by them. How’s his bathroom habits? Sometimes a uti causes mine to meow too. I have had a lot of cats growing up and I pet sit as a job. I know cats. It sounds like you do too. I think you can help the situation if you try. Maybe he can pick up on the fact you “can’t stand him” and you pretty much wished his death. Have patience and try and understand his situation. Do you ignore him and give attention to the other ones? Maybe he feels left out? I hope things get better for you!

      1. you are a terrible person who should NOT ever have a pet. Bring her to a cat rescue, rehome her, just don’t kill her. My God.

        1. I’ve typically observed that when you are asking someone to do something, calling them a terrible person beforehand makes them significantly less likely to comply with your request. I know it is easy to get upset at the idea of an innocent pet being put down, but we should try not to throw insults, but rather offer suggestions– which you did also 🙂 And they are great suggestions for an alternative to putting the kitty down. There are no terrible people. Sometimes people make terrible choices, but we’re all born good and we all have many opportunities to make good choices, no matter what choices we’ve made in the past.

          1. Thank You. when someone calls me names I stop listening to them. Usually they have bad advice anyway. I like your response, it was very mature and insightful. I will try to emulate your response if it happens to me again,

      2. That is certainly a hard choice you are faced with right now. I would encourage you to try to give her away first, even to a pet adoption center, rather than resorting to euthanizing what sounds like a perfectly healthy cat. 🙂
        There are many places, such as Petsmart and Petco. I’m sure there are local places near you as well. There’s surely someone out there who can handle a noisy cat, maybe someone who could benefit from it. Please consider all your options, with putting her down as the last option!!
        Much love!

    2. No ideas, but I sympathize with you. People that have never had a cat that meows for no good reason will never be able to understand what you’re going through. I love cats desperately, but am going through a hard time how to shut my cat up and often think of how to get rid of her, but could never do it – that love hate thing. I thought I was over getting up at 6 am when my kids grew up and now my cat wakes us up every morning. I’m searching for a nice solution. I will try training her. I really hope it works. She’s not young. I’m assuming she has some Siamese cause in one of her litters one of the kittens looked totally siamese! good luck with yours

  9. Hi, your article is great. I don’t exactly think my cat is in dire need of training, because she isn’t necessarily hyperactive. Whenever we put her in her cage (along with other 2 cats) she often screams or cries in a non-meowing kind of way, like she’s screaming loudly for help. I thought she wanted to mate, but when I pet her lower back (above the anus) there was no response. We concluded that she only wanted attention. We decided to ignore her when she yowls and come to her when she’s quiet, but the yowling and screaming still wouldn’t stop. We put food and water in her cage 24/7, we also put her in a normal temperature where it’s not too hot or too cold. How do I get my cat to stop screaming for attention?

    1. My cat meows for attention on those days when she does not get any or days I am out all day.

      She meows early mornings (5-7am) when she misses that attention. Just like babies, when mums are busy all day with chores that night and next day babies tend to be more cryfull as if to say “time to make it up to me!” and they do it in such time as if to make sure we learn a lesson.

      Mine can clearly enter and exit living room but if I was away or busy in the day or two with no time for cuddles or so, she will make sure to meow for up two hrs waiting for me to get off sofa away from TV just to open her living room door she is capable opening all the time when am not home!!

      Comes to mind “revenge”…lol.
      So many of cats may meow cs some psychological reason. Till that reason is removed, they may likely stop to meow so much!!

  10. Hi, I’ve made the mistake of letting our cat go outside in the apartment complex courtyard (with supervision). Now he’ll howl at the door incessantly in addition to just being overly chatty(half Arabian Mau). So far I’ve gotten him to sit quietly when treats are involved, but once they’re gone he’s back at his post or meowing around the apartment. Eventually he quiets down and gives up(at least until I start moving around or getting ready to leave). I’ve read that we ought to stop letting him out entirely or get him to associate outside as no longer fun. (via spray bottle for example)
    Will continuing training using treats and a clicker (and ignoring the howls) really help so I can let him outside occasionally? Or should we stop letting him out entirely and make him forget? (I should note, now that he’s gone outside, his regular toys, play things, and balcony aren’t enticing him anymore.)

    1. Please please someone respond to this. We have the same exact problem with our cat. He hollers at the front door but nowhere else. It is driving us crazy. Other than that, he is a very, very sweet cat!

    2. Hi, for the one/s meowing because they want to go outside, you could try putting a plant pot full of a healthy grass for your cat/s indoors.

    3. Yes, I’m going through the exact same problem. Our cat was always allowed outside but she mostly just went out with us. Then we got a puppy and over the last year she the time she spent outside gradually has increased until now we are pretty much a hotel where she drops by to eat then leaves immediately. She never used to spend the whole night outdoors but now it’s a regular occurance. Much as we worry we could live with it except she’s allergic to a specfic type of mite we have her and she’s scratching herself raw. In addition she’s getting sick as she’s addicted to kibble and dry bread and our neighbours seem to think that pidgeons are wonderful so chuck their old bread out the window daily whilst others leave nasty cheap unhealthy kibble for them. So now she also refuses to eat the pate we feed her and has developed struvite crystals. We have a large balcony where she can sit and watch the world go by (and nibble at plants) but even that’s not enough to keep her from constantly miaowing to go outside. We try to play with her though she’s not into cat toys (we have wasted tons of money trying different types) though we can get her to chase a piece of string on a stick (a homemade flirt pole for cats) and sit in a box while we drag it round and spin it in circles. This helps a lot in tiring her out and she then sleeps and we get a bit of piece and quiet. She also likes to watch when we are training the dog! That’s the best advice I can offer, play with your cat to tire it out and then feed it so that you are replicating the natural hunt, feed, sleep cycle. Get cardboard boxes that they can jump in and out of to explore (maybe throw open all your wardrobes so it can investigate) It’s tough as I think they are basically bored and that’s why they want to go outside (the outdoors has endless things to keep them entertained) and once they are used to that, the usual 5 mins playing that most people do with their cats doesn’t even begin to start to compensate. Some cats like to watch tv (mine likes syfy!!!) There are apps that you can download on a tablet that have mice/fish etc for your cat to play with. Mine likes to play the muffin tin game (usually recommended for dogs) If anyone else has any suggestions on how to keep your cat entertained I would love to hear them 🙂

  11. 4:30 AM. Every. Morning.
    My cat Echo is meowing, whether he’s inside or out, full bowl and water, access to the litter tray, you name it. I’ve lost so much sleep.
    It doesn’t matter what day it is, he walks around the apartment relentlessly like a disgruntled VFW member complaining about “how it used to be.” He only stops when he sees I’m up and awake, but scurries away from me when I am; he doesn’t want attention from me. Aggrivatingly confusing.

    Echo is an Arabian Mau/Persian who I found (quite literally) as a desert stray. He’s healthy as an ox now, neutered and about 1 year old. He’s as handsome as he is irritating.

    Help me Obi-Wan Katobi.

  12. We have a one year old cat, who meows, tells and groans like she’s dying, whenever it is meal time. Gives me a headache…each time. I never thought clicker training would work on cats. She is not a patient cat. I’m going to have to give this a try.

  13. My 2 year old male neutered cat started developing an annoying behaviour. He is noisy and meowing loudly especially when I let him go on the balcony. I am sure all the neighbours can hear his meows. I have to get him into the apartment fast so he is not heard anymore. And inside he whimpers around like he needs something or something is bothering him. That’s why I thought he was sick so the vet checked him. She doesn’t think it’s a physical thing. He is quiet when it is time for me to go sleep. He sleeps all night through, thank goodness.

    What do I do? I did buy that cat pheromone electric diffuser. But I think it’s not helping.

    1. Does he feel safe on the balcony? Can he be quiet if you try the quet training there? Try to speek at him and let him be there if hes quiet and take him inside the moment he meows. Try to make it understable for it. Baybe he is just too happy to be outside and cant resist to be vocal?
      Try to think, why he does it and what can be done to prevent it.

      Most of other people comments are about attention, this one might be not 🙂

  14. It breaks my heart to hear ppl talking about putting down their pets because they are too vocal, the thought almost brings me to tears. I can’t speak for others but in my family our pets are our family ( we call them our furry babies ?). I really hope none of you went through with it. I can deffinatly relate, my cat drives me absolutely crazy every night (its happening as I write this), I have to try and prevent her from waking my 1 year old EVERY NIGHT and then when I decide to lay down and go to bed she starts up again with constant loud meowing and then scratching our bed (our daughter sleeps in bed with us), door, or barely opening cabinets enough to make then slam shut loudly!! Lol she’s crazy at night! Even if she wasnt loving, sweet, kind to our daughter that yanks on her and body slams her which other cats don’t allow without attacking (they’re besties), but she is also a living thing that feels emotion and pain like we do. If our cats aren’t all those great things I hope then being like you is enough for you not to euthanize. There are plenty of people nowadays that will take your pet and give them a living home. Idk about you but if I had to get rid of a pet, knowing they’re going to a good loving home that could give them whatever I could would put my mind at ease. I hope you make the best decision for you and your pets ? xoxo

  15. Didn’t work for me. My Sallah starts screaming an hour before meals, and nothing will dissuade him. He eats well. there is ample dry food and fresh water available too.

  16. Thanks for the reset of perspective on this; we’ve been getting very frustrated. I will try the quiet training techniques with hope.

  17. I just put a downpayment on a siamese that i will pick up in 2 days. The pet shop told me they are talkative and at night. And i thought that is normal for most kittens in the beginning. But now i read up on the cat and its practically all the time. Im worried the pet shop wont refund me because of their no-refund policy. But i havent even paid full or brought the cat home yet. How can I or what can I say to get some sort of a refund or wait till they get another breed? Or should i just get the cat and wait to see how he is and then try to sell to someone who would actually want and care for a siamese cat.

    I know this sound silly. But i live with aging parents and this cat was for my son, and the last thing I need is a noisy cat for my aging parents.

  18. My cats are quiet right up until I go to feed them for the night. It’s once I walk over to the dishes that they get noisy. I will stop and not feed them until they are quiet but this has been months upon months of trying with no change. We tried an automatic feeder but they know where the next meal comes from and will jam their paws up into the feeder to get more food. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I have a baby on the way and would hate to have them waking the baby up with their constant meowing and I likely won’t have time to continue the half hour plus ritual of feeding them only when quiet. I’m at my wits end already!

    1. My kitty has been doing this too so I wait till he puts both his paws down on the ground before I give him the treat. I tell him to wait if he reaches his paws out to the treat, wait till the paws get back on the ground, then give him the treat. Takes a few goes, but your kitty will get it in no time 🙂

  19. I would love to train my kitten however my kitten does not like any treats I have tried 5 different kinds and still nothing I have even not fed her for a day and left the treats on the floor in the kitchen she never touched them. she is a Bengal .

    1. If she likes her normal food rather than treats, you could use that as a treat instead? If you’re concerned about her eating too much, just take a few kibbles as treats from the amount you would usually feed her. So she still gets her daily intake of food but in the form of treats 🙂

      1. They have this one kind where it is just a pieces of salmon, or chicken, it’s a little pieces I forgot who makes it but it’s a bag of ten little bags and it just has the one ingredient. My other cat eats anything but his little sister is super picky she loves these ones. Also my other cat who passed would turn her noses up to everything but her food, we couldn’t even get a different kind of food or she wouldn’t eat, she loved tuna tho, so maybe try some can tuna

  20. This is fantastic info, very comprehensive and specific, which I like. Definitely going to try this method for sure. My cat is a rescue (Norwegian Forest/Maine Coon mix); she didn’t come from a very good home (too many little kids, other cats bullying her, neglected, closed up in a small room most of the day, etc.) so she’s still somewhat anxious and of course, as a result, meows almost constantly. We’ve had her for almost three years now and she’s really smart. Like I know everybody says their cat/dog is smart but I managed to train mine to use a leash and harness and go outside for walks, so I think we can manage this trick too!

  21. Thanks for the info. I taught my cat to come to me for pets by meowing in this grllllll sound. She only ever responded with this with me. And in the last two apartments I’ve been in my roommates had other cats. She never responded to them with meowing like this. She was always calm until about 3 pm when she would play with the other cat. Now we moved into my boyfriends room and she’s stuck here with his cat. Every morning around 3 am she starts meowing like this ALOT. It’s to communicate with his cat. Or to get my attention. It’s drives us nuts. And I don’t like yelling at my cat. Now I know yelling doesn’t do anything because they don’t think they do anything wrong. So I wait out the long 3 hours of her trying to play or talk to the other cat. I guess I just have to patience.

    1. Lauren, I hope this works for you. I’m told it will work but it can take up to two weeks. I’m starting the same process tonight with my garrulous Tuxedo so we’re in the same boat. I watched a Jackson Galaxy video that also said we should feed them within two hours of bedtime after a vigorous play session.

  22. Try dealing with it all day and night! Never any piece and quiet. Definitely very little sleep every night. I’m talking at best 3-4 hours per night. And not a straight 3-4 hours of silence at night either. I’m to the point I’ve lost so much sleep and rarely get any piece in quiet throughout the day, i feel like I should be committed to a looney bin just so I could get some quiet time and rest. Don’t judge someone else’s situation without living in their shoes for one day. You would not make it a full 12 hours at my house with our stupid cat. If you think you could, I will gladly give you my cat for 24 hours and then you see for yourself first hand.

    1. I feel you Heather. Dante is a lightweight compared to what I have going on. Hurculean my rear. He’s the Pillsbury Dough Boy compared to mine. I got her for my kids, but we need sleep. It won’t be much longer before she has to go. I had cats my entire childhood and never experienced anything like this.

  23. I lost my beloved husband to sudden stroke rt in front of me- so charismatic earthy funny and loved his 2 pets to death. He spoiled them with good food and attention – one sat on his lap every nite 4 8 years- we got another rescue 2 years ago and they sort of tolerate each other- the one we have had the longest is an American shorthair we call TomKat- since my husband passed he meows constantly and even letting him on my bed or petting him only calms him 4 awhile.i have tried cleaning litter box, giving good food he likes that my husband bought special- the other cat, a younger orange tabby is the total opposite! The house is a nitemare now as I must move soon and I think the cat senses my constant grief and crying. My husband died just before Christmas 2020 and I am still a wreck. I would welcome any feedback

    1. They might need psychological help too. Maybe just some feromones and attention, but revard them for being quiet, nut after maowing. Its hard but probably still possible. Its pretty hard to say what will work becouse someone should see the behaviour to offer any really usable help.. Try some educted help IRL.

  24. This works great! My cat Cheeto will not shut up. OMG, im going insane. But he’s smart as a whip and has immediately taken to the training, as of now he’s sitting quietly to see if he’ll get another treat. This works great as a few years ago I taught him to beg to get a treat. 😀

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