Incessant meowing "close" to meal times

gabicards

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Hi! My 1 year old Maine Coon cat has developed the habit of meowing incessantly 1-2 hours before meal time (which is twice a day, once at 9am and then at 8pm) every day. He's never been fed while meowing because I didn't want to reinforce that behavior, but he's always been generally chatty - meaning, he talks all day, but it's a lot more as meal time approaches. We did however screw up in that, while we don't feed him as he meows, we do talk back to him... so he doesn't get a meal, but he does get attention.

We've seen the vet a couple of times in the past few months (preparing for a trip) and he's always been in the correct weight for his size. I feed him two sachets of Royal Canin Kitten (which we're slowly changing to an adult alternative, since he's very sensitive) and 40g of Canagan kibble. I've tried giving him more food for a week, and nothing changed, so I adjusted back to the regular amount.

I honestly don't think he's hungry, since he's continued to gain a healthy amount of weight, and there's nothing clinically wrong with him. Assuming this is indeed behavioral, does anyone have any tips of how I can train him to stop, or at least do a little less of this? It's becoming too much... He's confined to a room of the apartment at night now (with plenty of space and all the things he needs, naturally), because he was waking us up too early everyday and severely disrupting our sleeping schedule.

Here's the criminal.

Screenshot 2022-11-27 at 19.55.12.png
 

Furballsmom

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First of all, your cat is not a criminal. None of this is his fault, and he's not doing it because he thinks it's a fun thing to do.

I know you tried feeding him more and his behavior didn't change, but he needs the increase for longer than a week for it to have the effect of giving his body a chance to process the extra nutrition.

Maine coons don't stop growing until they're at least two years old or older.

Big breed cats need a lot of food while they're still growing, and very few veterinarians understand kitten and young cat nutrition. Additionally, every cat is different and shouldn't be judged by some general assessment, particularly since there's no way to know how big he will become or when he will stop growing.

In other words, your boy is still a kitten and needs a lot of food. You're feeding him as though he's an adult cat. Please, please consider allowing him access to more wet food during the day, and include an auto feeder that will open at a couple times overnight so that he doesn't have to go so long between meals.

Hopefully, with these changes you'll find talking to him a positive thing, and will have a household environment that is less negative towards him. 💞
 
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gabicards

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First of all, your cat is not a criminal. None of this is his fault, and he's not doing it because he thinks it's a fun thing to do.

I know you tried feeding him more and his behavior didn't change, but he needs the increase for longer than a week for it to have the effect of giving his body a chance to process the extra nutrition.

Maine coons don't stop growing until they're at least two years old or older.

Big breed cats need a lot of food while they're still growing, and very few veterinarians understand kitten and young cat nutrition. Additionally, every cat is different and shouldn't be judged by some general assessment, particularly since there's no way to know how big he will become or when he will stop growing.

In other words, your boy is still a kitten and needs a lot of food. You're feeding him as though he's an adult cat. Please, please consider allowing him access to more wet food during the day, and include an auto feeder that will open at a couple times overnight so that he doesn't have to go so long between meals.

Hopefully, with these changes you'll find talking to him a positive thing, and will have a household environment that is less negative towards him. 💞
Oh lord, the criminal bit was a joke. No one in this household is negative towards him in any way, shape, or form, he's adored. I'll be more careful about humor in this forum from now on.

Thanks for the pointer about the food quantity and that one week isn't enough to adjust! I'll increase the amount slowly to see if that helps and gauge how much weight he gains - we're very scared about accidentally leading him to being overweight, with the associated concerns particular to the breed (the hip issue, for instance). But I definitely don't want him to go hungry!
 

Willowwombat

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I finally got my cats automatic feeders. One of them took to it immediately; the other eats half of her food and waits until I get up so I can "feed" her the rest. The morning howling has stopped.
 
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gabicards

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I finally got my cats automatic feeders. One of them took to it immediately; the other eats half of her food and waits until I get up so I can "feed" her the rest. The morning howling has stopped.
I’m glad it’s worked for you! We didn’t have the same luck 😆 we’ve had an automatic feeder since July, and even got one that has ice packs so that we could put wet food in it, but he still howls at my door, specifically, every morning. He just likes the company, I think… also because if I’m in a meeting and my flatmate is working from home as well, I close my door to avoid disruptions, and he cries outside then too. If he’s in with me, no crying.

Canagan kibble seems to be the only one that he stops eating when he’s satisfied and then grazes on what’s left through the day. Everything else he inhales, to the point that our vet asked us to control portions back in April/May. Mind you, at that point he was eating mostly dry food, which hasn’t been the case for half a year now.
 

FeebysOwner

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I didn't see it suggested above, so maybe the answer is to feed him earlier than 9A. It might also be helpful to break his meals into at least 3 per day (or maybe even 4) to see if that would stop the meowing behavior.
 

Willowwombat

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As for the early morning howling I find that a loud hissing noise or a shouted "no" and a shoe thrown at the door with a loud "thunk" will usually get the message across, eventually. It might take a few times, but you're the boss and you tell the cat what's what.

My girl now knows that this is what will happen if she howls in the morning. She's stubborn, but as I said, she will eat a bit from her auto feeder instead of howling.
 
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gabicards

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Did you have a chance to try a Slow-Feeder, or to put something like a clean golfball or two in his dish, to slow him down?
I've never thought about trying a slow feeder, thanks for the tip! Just ordered one online.

I didn't see it suggested above, so maybe the answer is to feed him earlier than 9A. It might also be helpful to break his meals into at least 3 per day (or maybe even 4) to see if that would stop the meowing behavior.
He used to get fed 3 times a day. I did some online research and came to the conclusion that it's okay to try different schedules and some cats do well with less (I mean, that was my understanding?), so I decided to try and slowly narrowed it down to two - it wasn't hard, because two of the meals were just a few hours apart (9am and 12pm). Instead of offering him his dry food portion during lunch time, I just offered it along with the sachet, in a different bowl, and he normally eats it all in the morning... sometimes he's not as hungry and there's some left that he eats throughout the afternoon.

To be honest, the meowing only changed slightly for the better following this change, because now there's 2 times in the day where he does it instead of 3.

I'm slowly increasing his food now - trying to find a "complement" that's mostly just protein that I can add to his meals. Trying almo nature, which seems to be very very basic (chicken and a few tiny pieces of shrimp or pumpkin). I need to be super careful with him and his meals because he's insanely sensitive, and we're still trying to figure out if he's allergic to things or if he has IBS or IBD. But animalbiome.com had suggested I increase his protein intake and lower his carb intake + add some psyllium husk to his food, so this is as good a time as any to try it out. (Scared of the added fiber though, for a cat that has bouts of soft stool every once in a while and seems prone to diarrhea...)
 
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