Is your cat a chatterbox?

Talkative domestic cats are good. They improve the human-to-cat relationship. Cat owners want their cat to initiate an interaction with them, don’t they? You don’t just want a decorative cat. When cats start the conversation, the interactions are better and they last longer. Please tell me if your cat is a chatterbox and if so why.

Chatterbox cat
Chatterbox cat. Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

You want a partner and a conversationalist. Just joking. Sometimes we don’t want to be disturbed. The middle of the night comes to mind. Some complain that their cat is too attention-seeking. They complain that they follow them around and get under their feet. There seems to be a limit to the amount of cat chatter than people find acceptable. If that’s the case don’t get a Siamese! They are known for their raucous, demanding meow.

There are two reasons why a cat might be a chatterbox: firstly, it’s in their DNA. It is an inherited character trait and secondly, their caregiver talks to them. People can start the conversation. Talk to your cat and they’ll learn to respond. There is a time and place to talk to your cat. They want to be left alone sometimes too.

Attention-seeking

The domestic cat meows to ask for something. A need to eat is the most common reason. That’s okay. But if a cat is becoming irritating by seeking attention too much perhaps the reason is because the owner is not giving them enough attention or they want their cat to be decorative and not interactive. Perhaps their cat is under-stimulated, bored. Cat behaviour of all kinds (including talking) is partly a reflection of their human’s behaviour.

I’ve always thought that it is the human who creates the cat’s world. People dictate the terms of the relationship. If a cat is a chatterbox, it is up to the owner to figure out why. It will almost always be a request for something. What is it?

Neighbour – multi-cat

My neighbour has many indoor cats. She has a small outside, covered enclosure. Not very pretty. One of her cats enters it and meows loudly. He sometimes looks towards the house. It upsets me. I think there are two reasons for his meowing. He wants to be free and go outside. When she got him, he had no idea that he’d be stuck inside a smelly home for the rest of his life. He wants out. The other reason is that he is being bullied by another cat and is complaining.

Personality

Whether a cat is a chatterbox or not depends on their personality. Confidence is major factor in personality and willingness to talk, to speak up. Vicky Hall a cat behaviorist has devised a method of gauging a cat’s character. She calls it ‘activity budgets’. Your cat’s character is shown to you by their behavior. Vicky has six activities for cats: sleeping, interacting with the indoor environment, time spent outdoors (if allowed out), time spent interacting with her owner and others including cats, grooming and eating. The interacting trait will dictate how talkative a cat is.

Prefer confident cats?

My understanding is that, in general, people like outgoing interactive cats. They are more likely to be talkative. Although I have to say that there are advantages in living with a timid cat. They are less demanding and more ‘retiring’ meaning they are happy to keep out of the way. If allowed outside they are safer because they are less bold. And probably less talkative. In the opening paragraph I mentioned decorative cats. Some people prefer them. They want them there, in the home, but very much on their terms and not in a way which interferes too much the human lifestyle. I think these people are less good at being cat caregivers.

Inheritance

There is evidence that coat colour is linked to character. I think ginger cats have nice characters! However, in a survey, shorthair cats with red coat colour experienced more difficulties when handled by unfamiliar people than cats of the same breed but with different coat colours. Does that mean red shorthair cats are less talkative? Perhaps.

Middle ground

When it comes to being a genuine feline chatterbox, they are an exception. Most cats are in the middle ground in terms of their desire to talk. Some are very quiet but this will be linked, I feel, to timidity. If their confidence is built up, they’ll open up and interact more and in doing so be more talkative. I am back to humans creating the environment in which cats can feel that they can be more expressive of their desires.

Cat owners

I also feel that cat owners should welcome the talkative cat. It is a good sign the cat is relaxed and content and feels able to interact. It means that they see their owner as an equal, not a creature to fear. That’s what we want.

Initiating communication with your cat

A study – Multimodal Communication in the Human–Cat Relationship: A Pilot Study (I am not a great fan of studies) – concluded that if a person used both visual and vocal communication the cat interacted ‘significantly faster’. I believe that what they are saying is common sense! When a person uses body language coupled with their voice their cat is more likely to respond and I’d argue also talk back. Link to study referred to: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13091528

Here is a short video I made on this. It is not massively exciting! But it gets the message across. My cat helps a lot as he puts a smile on my face always.


Rhythms

There is another factor: rhythms. Cats will talk at those times when they have talked in the past as part of a pattern of events that take place throughout the day. Cats are creatures of habit.

Enjoy

Enjoy the chatterbox cat. If you live with one it means that you are doing okay or better at being a cat caregiver and it is probable that you have a happy cat. Although there is a difference between a chatterbox cat (cheerful sounds) and a complaining cat (howling).

Why are Siamese cats so vocal, talkative and noisy?

Talk and touch, two reasons why cats tend to prefer women

5 thoughts on “Is your cat a chatterbox?”

  1. Our cat Pussy Whiteface can actually say words, not that she needs to, as we understand cat language anyway, but she can actually make the sound in human language ‘Hello’ ”Wet’ ‘I don’t know’ and many more.She’s a single cat we rescued when she turned up hungry in our garden, no microchip, we advertised her as found, but no one claimed her or wanted her. Both our lovely boys Walter and Jozef were R.I.P and we were on the point of moving house, but she decided she wanted to live with us. We’ve no idea how old she is really, but quite mature. We think she ‘talks’ more because of being an only cat. We now live in a peaceful, cat safe, place, where she can enjoy her freedom, she actually settled in here before we did!

    Reply
    • Great story. She certainly landed on her feet in living with you. Maybe she knew about you and hoped you’d adopt her! She must be smart too. She’s learned to talk to you by observing and copying. A wonderful example of communication between cat and human. If you get a chance, you might video her talking like this. That would interest me a lot. Visitors love that sort of cat behaviour.

      Reply
    • We’d love to get a video of her ‘talking’ been trying to for a while, hopefully one day maybe we’ll succeed. Meanwhile here she is laughing at us lol

      Reply

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