deciphering "meow" vocalizations for adopted male

Matt H

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Hi, all,

I just adopted a mature male cat from a local cat rescue and he's settling in with me. (Just finished 1 week.). I"m trying to decipher his meowing habits. Sometimes it seems to be food-related, but sometimes he approaches my kitchen door and meows like he wants out.

Any suggestions? Still trying to make things calm and as stress-free for him as I can. He does still pace a bit but relaxes when he's on the kitchen table while I'm at my computer or in my lap in my recliner. lol. The vacuum cleaner was a new thing today, too.

Also, am I crazy to think boarding him for a few days while I go to a nephew's graduation would be ok? I was gone a couple days on a work trip and my folks fed him and checked on him. I was reading on the site about the stress boarding can bring.
 

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FeebysOwner

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Hi and welcome to TCS. As far as the meowing goes, it will just take time for you to decipher it as you learn more about him and learn his preferences and personality. There is no one code/meaning to what each sound a cat makes. Longer meows might mean he does want out, especially if he has spent time outside in his past. But, it could just as easily mean he is hungry for food - or even attention.

It is very soon to be leaving your new cat, particularly when you are saying this will be the second time already. If you can have your parents take care of him again, I would do that over boarding him. Most cats do much better when they are left in their home - and, that is probably even more so true with a cat that is just trying to get used to a new home and a new life. Leave some worn, unwashed clothing of yours in places he likes to hang out so that he has your scent with him while you are gone.

Oh, and if you think he may be wanting to go outside, better to warn your parents to be careful entering and leaving your place so that he doesn't have a chance to dart out the door.
 
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Alldara

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I also would not board him right now if possible because that might make him think youve returned him to the shelter.

I do highly recommend the small pet blankets from dollar stores. They are easy to leave around as scent soakers for your cat and can easily be tossed frequently in the regular wash
 

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You might already know that cats don't normally meow on their own. Kittens meow to call for their mother but adults, if left to their own devices, don't meow much, at all, unless they are in distress. Meowing is a learned behavior/response to get attention from their humans.

There is no universal language to a cat's meow. It's a contextual vocabulary that's developed between a cat and its humans. As such, the lexicon of a cat's vocalizations is often unique to the cat and the humans they live with. The cat learns that making certain sounds gets it food, attention, petting, playtime or to open the door to go outside. The human learns what those sounds mean and responds accordingly.

Sometimes, humans and cats can even have conversations:
Meow!​
"Are you hungry?"​
ME-ow!​
"Of course you are! It's your dinner time!"​
"me-OW!"​
"Okay! Here's your din-din!"​
Meow! Purr!​
"You're welcome!"​

No two cats are likely to have the exact, same vocabulary. Basically, it's up to you and your cat to develop your own language between you. Each cat/human combination will often have their own vocabulary.
 
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Matt H

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New question--determining if I'm feeding him adequately. The rescue gave me a prescription food and said to feed him 1/4 cup of it (dry food) and a 1/2 can of wet food (3oz can) two times a day. His weight seems very good (as in he's not overweight), but I am wondering if I'm underfeeding him a little. Still meowing. lol.

He did leave the dry food uneaten from his PM feeding yesterday. But scarfed up the wet this morning. Thiink I'm gonna send his lawyers a letter for help. lol
 

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Usually the recommended amount is between 10 and 30 calories per pound of cat. Depending on activity level and metabolism.

With those that were outside, they are suddenly less active so you need to be extra careful not to give them too much.

He probably wants his wet food increased and dry decreased.
 

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Matt H

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Hi, folks, my latest challenge--trying to prevent Scout from getting on my kitchen counter. It is the largest (and highest) flat surface in my living area. There's a bar area, then the stovetop, then more countertop where the sink is. Am I dreaming to think I can train him not to do this? He's 3 years old. He is allowed up on my small dining table over by the window.
 

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Are there things on the counter top that is attracting him to that area? Unwashed dishes, other sources of food, plants, a window? Those need to be taken care of to help discourage him. I have heard of folks using aluminum foil as a deterrent, but I think that one I believe has had the most success is rubber or plastic mats - the ones with the 'nubs' on the underside that you actually place upward. They are easy to remove when you want to use the counter top.

I think cats can be trained to know certain surfaces are a no-no when others are not. But, it may be that if you don't find success in stopping him from the counter top, you might have to expand the 'no-no' to include the tables too.

Maybe this article will give you some other ideas.
How To Keep Cats Off Counters And Tables - TheCatSite
 

Alldara

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Hi, folks, my latest challenge--trying to prevent Scout from getting on my kitchen counter. It is the largest (and highest) flat surface in my living area. There's a bar area, then the stovetop, then more countertop where the sink is. Am I dreaming to think I can train him not to do this? He's 3 years old. He is allowed up on my small dining table over by the window.
Best thing you can do when you want a cat to not do something is to assess what it is they are after and give them a yes space to do it.

What's his purpose when he goes on the counter?
 
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Matt H

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I'm still trying to figure that out. It may be food. And a solution to boredom. I feed him, but he leaves lots of it in his bowl. He usually cleans his bowl during the night.
 

Alldara

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If it helps, he seems to pace and prowl nonstop at times. Maybe that's normal cat behavior but it's new for me.
It's normal if he's intact OR if it's been less than 8 weeks since he's been neutered.

It can be a sign of stress or boredom otherwise.

Oftentimes re: counter it can be that they are curious about what you're doing. The solve for me has been pulling a chair over and letting the boys sniff things.
 
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Matt H

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Hey, all, regarding Scout getting onto my counters, my neighbor gave me a suggestion today--that perhaps his previous owners had fed him on the counter. That made some sense to me.
 

Alldara

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Hey, all, regarding Scout getting onto my counters, my neighbor gave me a suggestion today--that perhaps his previous owners had fed him on the counter. That made some sense to me.
Could be. Since we had dogs, my Gramma fed Nobel on the kitchen table. We only used the dining room table for humans. It meant he never broke of the habit though.
 
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