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ETpro's avatar

Do cats get more vocal as the get older?

Asked by ETpro (34208 points ) May 21st, 2012

Spoony THE cat has been grey since she was an infant. But at 15, she’s earned all that grey hair now. She is an ancient of days in cat years. And with age, she has gotten ever more vocal—and loud. Every time she uses her littel box now, whether for number 1 or 2, she steps outside her bathroom (we have 2 baths and one is hers) and emits a series of loud, throaty meows. I’m just guessing, of course, but I think she is saying, clean up this mess I just made.

She likes to have a supply of fresh water, dry food and canned Friskies fish, chicken, turkey or mixed-grill pate at her feeding station. If anything gets low, she will again meow loudly, but with a slightly different sound than the bathroom complaint.

Sometimes when food gets low she comes into the living room and meows more softly, and when I respond and head into the kitchen to get her what she’s asking for she approves with a series of low-pitched growls that clearly indicate thank you. I know it’s thank you and not curse you for waiting so long, because if I’m barefoot she’ll kiss the top of my foot or ankle in thanks.

She’s used to my wife or me being here, and on the relatively rare occasion when we both are away for a full day, we will hear about it when we come home. We will listen to a long series of loud, angry meows.

Same goes for time to get up. She demands that someone arise by 4:30 AM and see to her needs or just be with her. Once one of us is up, she will curl up next to us in the living room and go right back to sleep. But there is no sleeping through the repertoire of sounds she makes till she has a companion in the front room. I’ve offered her a spot on the bed, but that just won’t do. Someone must arise to keep her company. And with her volume level, we’re afraid it will be our condo neighbors upstairs if we don’t give in.

All of this is new with age. She never behaved this way as a kitty teen or middle aged cat. Its only been when she started getting old that she became so vocal. And she has an amazing range of vocalizations. I read that cats have more than 60 unique vocalizations they can use to communicate their feelings to other cats. She has at least that, and seems to feel that I’ve had plenty of time now to learn her language.

Is this normal for older cats? Do most of them get more chatty and codgerly as they age?

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20 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

They are as different as we are. We had a kitten that was living under the house until I trapped it and got it living outside and that boy almost never shut up. He would visit us inside but when he wanted out you didn’t dally long because there was no living with him until he left the house, if you can imagine that.

laurenkem's avatar

This cat sounds wonderful! I would welcome such a vocal and adorable pet! My bobcat (Uh, his name is Bob and he’s a cat, lol) is quite vocal in that he always announces when he poops (never when he pees). He announces his arrival into any given room as well, as if to say, “I’m here”. And his brother, ArnieBarnie, always lets me know if the litter box is less than up to his standards. Yet he also just mews when he wants to be on the bed with mama and enjoy some nighttime, while-mommy’s-reading-a-book petting.

However, sometimes they just randomly roam around meowing for no apparent reason, and I’ve convinced myself that they’re talking to each other, lol. Wish I could understand their conversations!

josie's avatar

Probably.

gailcalled's avatar

Check the pitch of Spoony’s meows. Milo vocalizes in a predictable way; when he’s ready to take a big leap either up or down, when he wants a few cups of water splashed in the tub for him to drink, or when I am holding a can of organic wild salmon open and at the ready. Occasionally I believe it is to announce a hairball lurking somewhere.

I finally checked it out on the piano; he meows always on G# or A above middle C. I have wondered whether that is unique to him or similar to other cats. Do verify if you can.

He’s about 11 or 12 at the most and lean, active and very springy.

syz's avatar

They do seem to. Cognitive impairment (dementia) and increasing hearing loss in older cats can also be contributing factors for loud vocalizations.

Coloma's avatar

It’s dementia. Yes, they do. My poor old guy that passed away in 2010 was a wreck when I was traveling overseas for 3 weeks. My daughter said all he did was meow the whole time I was gone. Poor guy. He was becoming dottier every day the last few years of his life, and had to have a very specialized routine to feel secure. Oh boy, look what WE have to look forward too. lol

Linda_Owl's avatar

Different cats have different personalities, some are very vocal, some are not. I have always had cats (& sometimes dogs as well), so I have gotten to know several very well. Generally, their vocalizations are limited to interaction with the people that they own, they rarely get vocal with other cats unless there is a difference of opinion. I have two cats now, a spayed female & a neutered male, both were rescued from a shelter, & I have had them for almost two years. Both of them are very vocal. However, my last cat (who lived to be 21 years old) was a very quiet cat, even when she got really old. She rarely make any sound louder than a little squeaky meow. She was a sweetie & I still miss her. After she died, I waited almost two years before I got the two kittens from the shelter, & they have now grown up. They are very playful & loving. I decided to get two kittens because I think a cat needs a fellow cat to be with, & just about the only time that a cat will adjust to another cat is when they are both kittens.

Coloma's avatar

@Linda_Owl I’ve started over too. Lost my old guy in May of 2010 and adopted a new female siamese who was 10 months old and now this last Dec. a male who they estimated to be 5. I have 3 and 5 year olds again. Oh my. They are great, both incredible cats, love dem kittys. :-)

ETpro's avatar

Thanks, all. I can’t write much. I got cataract surgery today and am nursing a very teary eye. More later.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Our eldest girl Zoe (15yrs) sounds like she’s following the same pattern as your Spoony @ETpro. She, too, has begun waking us as early as 4:30am to be fed. Mind you, we always leave dry food down. She insists on ½ a can of wet food the second the sun arises in the AM.

She’s now taken to waking up my husband early on the weekend AMs, then when I wake up a little later, she begins the entire act again for me. :/ As @syz mentioned above, we’ve suspected dementia as the reason this new ‘weekend’ behavior has begun.

I’ve now started hiding freeze dried salmon around the house before I go to bed to help delay the AM whining.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^^-Hope that your surgery was successful and that the recuperation is brief and painless. Will Spoony bring you meals on trays for a few days?

ETpro's avatar

So cats become curmudgeons in their later years just like I have. Seems reasonable, I guess.

BTW, when I said a low growl as a thank you it’s really more like a ummmmm sound.

judochop's avatar

I have full conversations with my cats.

Paradox25's avatar

I’ve had several cats as pets, and from my experience their personalities vary as much as ours. Some of my cats became more vocal as they had gotten older, while others were more vocal during their younger years.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Zoe began at 4am today. Apparently the nesting Robins woke her up early. Zoe enjoyed making her yowl echo in our stairway. Grrrr! During the day, she doesn’t speak a word.

ETpro's avatar

@judochop A jelly after my my own heart.

@Paradox25 Makes sense.

@SpatzieLover Spoony is now pretty vocal except when she’s asleep—which is about 18 hours out of each 24. But lots of her vocalizations are not grating. She was coplaining about her Friskies wet food being low at abot 10:30 tonight. There was a bit left, some in little dried clumps. Being the frugal sort, I wetted it down, let it soak a bit, then scraped it all into one nice, moist clump. I told here to finish that, and I would get her some more.

She’s heard that enough that she knows what it means. But she wasn’t actually hungry then. At about 11, she went in and polished it off, then came back in with me and curled up for a nap. At 12:30 she got up, walked to the hallway and, knowing the wet food was now empty said ”MoOwerr   Meweeh   ummmmeh” with the discourse beginning quite loud, and dropping in volume with each word. When I went in to put more food out for the night, it was all lovey dovey and that rumbling sound like “ummmah” and kisses on the wrist..

mattbrowne's avatar

Ours does. She’s just turned seven.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne She’s just hitting middle age. Spoony THE Cat is 15.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – Has Spoony retired from catching birds and mice? Our middle aged cat named Siri is still making a mess in our home every other day bringing back bleeding creatures or eating only half of them in our hallway or study leaving the rest for us to clean up.

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne Spoony is entirely an indoor cat. Open the door to let her out, and she will run away and hid under the bed.

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