Excessive meowing after new upstairs neighbours moved in? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 06:43 PM Thread Starter
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Excessive meowing after new upstairs neighbours moved in?

Hi everyone,

We have an 8-month ragdoll. He's always been "chatty" and likes to meow at us to initiate play, but the past two weeks something's changed and the meowing has gotten out of control. He still sleeps through the night just fine with us, and takes his usual long naps during the day, but when he's up and has some energy, the meowing is non-stop -- literally for half-hour or 45-minute periods without end, bordering on howling. He's perfectly healthy (vet checkup last week), litter/eating habits all the same -- the meowing is definitely directed at us, and seems to be some sort of anxious attention-seeking behaviour. He's only quiet when playing or cuddling. We're doing everything we can to ignore him when he's howling and reward him with play when he's silent, but this hasn't seemed to curb the habit.

We were trying to think of what it could be that started this behaviour, and the only thing we could come up with was environmental factors. At the beginning of December, we decorated our apartment for Christmas (a few small changes, but nothing major -- fake tree, so no scent), and also got new upstairs neighbours, who have 2 cats. These people actually used to live across the hallway from us, so I'm sure our cat "knows" their cats' scents, but I'm wondering if having two cats living above us now in our apartment might have been enough to trigger all of this new meowing? Has anybody had experience with something like this before?

Also, we're thinking about getting a feliway diffuser to see if that calms him down a bit.

Any advice would be great!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-19-2013, 06:52 PM
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Poor baby has his world rocked with changes - probably no matter how minute, but you can bet he can smell those cats upstairs!! You can try plugging in a few Fel-i-way pheromone defusers - that should at least help. One will cover about 450sf, so it you have a large house you will definitely need more than one. My Annie used to get like this. As she got older she would follow me around and just YELL at me! She actually LOOKED mad! It was kind of funny to be yelled at by a cat, but she was definitely was trying to tell me something. I would scoop her up, hold her like a baby and she would settle down - for a bit.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all, bumping this thread to try and source more info for dealing with our stressed cat, as he seems to be moving progressively into symptoms of anxiety, particularly seperation anxiety now.

We've tried Feliway diffusers for more than a month with no perceptible change. Does anyone out there have experience with a cat who's become anxious/stressed out due to the scent of new neighbor cats? And if so, any advice on how to make our apartment less of a stress-zone, short of getting the new neighbors evicted (joking -- they're lovely people with lovely cats)?

In case you're wondering, we've checked his health, racked our brains for any other environmental stressors (can't think of any), and are diligent in our efforts to curb his howling in terms of behavior we might be reinforcing (ignoring; rewarding quite behavior; lots of interactive play, etc.).
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 11:54 PM
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Could your kitty be hearing the new sound of paws on the floor above and be thinking it is mice or something to hunt?

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-27-2014, 11:56 PM
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This is a tough one. You've looked into all the usual suspects for causes. I know it probably goes without saying, but just to make sure, all three cats have been spayed/neutered?

Are you sure he's anxious or is he just wailing with no other sign of anxiety other than the verbalization? Eats ok, sleeps ok, remains playful and wants cuddling?

Do you talk back to him? When Penny howls, I take it as a conversation starter (albeit a loud one that could affect the neighbors) and that sometimes quiets her down, but sometimes not.

Sorry for no other ideas. As you can read between the lines, I'm in a little bit of the same boat. But Penny's howling (we call it singing, just to be nice) doesn't seem stressed or anxious, so if the neighbors will put up with it, I'm going to too.

Jeff & Nala
Simon and Penny, waiting patiently at the Bridge
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 02:46 AM Thread Starter
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Mochas: This could be it, I guess, but it's not an "man I'm excited and want to hunt" reaction... which is why I was thinking it must be a scent/territorial thing.

Nebraska: No idea about whether the neighbour's cats are fixed! Our guy is... but if the others aren't I'm sure this could have something to do with it?

For the past six weeks or so, we've made every effort not to talk back -- not to give any kind of response in general (even eye contact) when he starts howling, as it seems to be an attention-seeking response and we don't want to reinforce any habits. We're trying to reward quiet time with affection and ignore howling time, as per any training guide we've come across, but he's only getting louder! Our one saving grace is that when it's bedtime, he shuts right up, curls up on our bed, and will sleep peacefully until whatever time we wake up. Thank goodness.

He's eating/sleeping fine (doesn't eat if we're not around, though), loves playing/affection, etc. But ever since December 1 when the neighbours moved in, he's gone from "cute puppy cat that likes to be near us" to "oh my god I just realized you're more than 15 feet away from me so I'm going to scream at the top of my lungs until I'm closer". Generally, he's a lot more nervous and skittish when it comes to noises and doesn't nap as peacefully, and he's definitely grooming himself a LOT more than he used to. He does this deep gutteral "MOUUWWOWWOOWW" over and over sometimes. He also freaks out when he knows I'm leaving for work in the morning now... he'll howl while weaving between my legs for half an hour + once he clues in it's time for me to go. He's only alone for about 4 hours in the daytime until my wife gets back, so it's not like he's on his own half the day.

At the end of the day, I guess it could be that he's just a loud cat -- which doesn't bug us so much, as long as he's healthy, but I know our other neighbours are growing tired of it and we're feeling kinda embarassed, and assume everyone thinks we're torturing the poor guy. It just strikes me as more than coincidence that all these behavioral things started happening when the new neighbours moved in. My hope is that there's some kind of solution... something that could calm him down a bit.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 05:48 AM
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I have a cat which goes thru howling periods. I thought it was because he was an indoor/ outdoor cat at one time and now I wont let him out. So I try to play with him thinking he might be bored???

Are Ragdolls prey driven so he is frustrated and needs a hunt or something to simulate a hunt? Im grasping at straws here for you. This one is perplexing.

As a last ditch effort call an animal communicator to ask your kitty why he is howling so much!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 06:32 AM Thread Starter
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As far as I'm aware, ragdolls are pretty much as easy-going as they come. He likes to "play" hunt and pounce with toys, and enjoys bird watching at the window -- like most cats I think -- but he's never been outdoors in his life. I'm not a breed expert, and I know there's a lot of myths out there about ragdolls that don't apply to every cat in the breed, out I think they have historically been bred for their relaxed demeanour (yodelling aside, apparently…). Doubt he'd last more than half an hour out there in the real world hunting… he's a loud cat, but a big softy!

Thanks for your input, everyone! It's really not anything DIRE, I just worry that there's something making him anxious that we could be doing something about. If he keeps going down this path and gets progressively worse, we'll take him back to the vet to make sure there isn't anything that was missed previously.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 01-28-2014, 07:58 AM
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What about his hearing? My last cat became deaf in her old age and did a little bit of howling.
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