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Feline Friday: Ask Amy & Old Loudmouth Kitties


Cappy enjoys a sunbath. (Copr. Sanskrtlady/Flickr)

My Seren-kitty has never been a touchy-feely lap snuggler. She’d rather find a puddle of sunlight (like Cappy-Kitty in the picture) for her heat treatment. It wasn’t until she became a senior citizen cat that Seren deigned to snooze on a human, and with the cooler weather that arrived overnight, she’s demanding more lap time these days. I don’t mind, it’s nice to have a furry hot water bottle to keep me warm.

As promised for National Adopt A Senior Pet Month, today’s topic focuses on some old-cat issues. A biggie is litter box issues. I’m fortunate that Seren has never had a problem maintaining her potty duty–despite the harrowing scary noise a week or so ago during the lightening storm that zapped our alarm system.

7-11 seren big litterbox

Seren has a very large but shallow box to do her duty.

Older cats also may lose some litter box allegiance after a lifetime of being faithful. “Going” outside the litter box is the top cat-behavior complaint of cat owners. Litter-box problems lose cats their homes and lives. But cats use urine and feces to “talk” to owners, even if humans misunderstand the stinky message. Cats have logical reasons for inappropriate behavior. Understanding the reasons they snub the box often reveals easy fixes that will keep your cat’s aim on target. It can happen with any age cat so for those with felines younger than “fogey-icity” here are five common reasons cats miss the box, and how to improve their aim.  And when you’ve got an old fogey cat, here are 7 tips for solving old-cat litter box problems.

Actually, potty duty is a way for cats to communicate. They don’t rely on yowls alone. (Hey how was THAT for a segue?!) Seren always wants to have the last word. She’s always been a vocal feline. After all, she IS a Siamese wannabe. But I’ve noticed just in the past several weeks she’s become even more of a loud-mouth. Hmnnn. She’ll be 15 years young in February.

Are your cats chatter-boxes or the strong, silent types? But the older your cat becomes, chances are he’ll also become more vocal. That can be a result of hearing loss–say WHAT?!  The yowls have other causes, too–especially for our golden oldie cats. The Ask Amy video mentions a couple of these issues.

What do you do about your adult cat-erwauling? Did a vet visit take care of the problem? Or are you still losing sleep? Hint: Ear plugs are your friend! What else can you add to the Ask Amy video advice? And yes, I’ve run this Ask Amy video before…need to create some more so feel free to suggest topics in the comments.


This post marks my 250th blog post since moving over to WordPress! Wow. And this month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

About amyshojai

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant (dogs/cats), award winning author of 30+ pet care titles and thrillers, and spokesperson to the pet industry.

15 responses »

  1. Anubis usually runs up and down the halls yowling and pounding on the walls, doors, and cabinets somewhere around 3am. He seems to think we’re very silly creatures for sleeping at the bestest playtime ever.

    If it’s during the day he’s either yowling for Daddy or for treats.

  2. Our older cat, Blackie, loves to rub his cheeks on everything. Wall edges, people, appliances, box lids, I mean every surface. I assume this is marking territory but he seems to derive a certain special pleasure from the activity. Over time this builds up a visible mark at some of his favored areas to face rub but it comes off easily with a Clean Eraser (the Arm & Hammer kind) and gives him a new fresh surface to fall in love with again.

    He is still not fond of the kitten but maybe once she tones down her energy level.

    Great tips, Amy. Thanks 🙂

    • Ha! I discovered the Magic Eraser (I think that’s the one I use with “Mr Clean”) does a great job, too. Funny how a mostly white and seemingly clean kitty can leave such marks.

      Bet the kitten will grow on him, yes–at least somebody else to blame for the wall marks. *s*

    • Our kitties have a spot on the coffee table like that. One worn corner, the rest are pristine. LOL

  3. Terrific post, Amy! And wow…CONGRATS on your WordPress landmark. May we up-and-comers follow in your footsteps. 🙂

  4. Congrats on your 250th!

    Our dear one was practically a silent kitty until he became an indoor kitty and he has gotten progressively louder and more talkative ever since. I guess he didn’t want anything as an outdoor kitty except food & to become an indoor one and then once in there was much more reason to “talk.” He is definitely trying to say SOMETHING when he is meowing & his vocabulary is really great, something I have noticed in other kitties of my acquaintance.

    I keep a close eye on the litter box now that ours has recovered from that frightening stone issue and he gets a pat on the head & a “good kitty” when he contributes something.

  5. I meant the vocabulary of what he understands is great though as you mention with older kitties he is saying more and more too.

    • Hi Brenda, maybe when he was outside he didn’t feel the need to “talk” to the butterflies and mice (or they didn’t talk back, LOL!). And once inside, I think cats do become more sociable.

      Great that he’s staying healthy re: the stones. That IS scary!

    • One of ours has quite the vocabulary too. It’s amazing how much you can get him to understand, as long as you know which words he knows and what order to put them in so he gets it, and what words to remove so there’s not so many to get him confused. So it becomes some weird sort of Tarzan-speak. LOL

      Most recent addition to his lingo was “fishy paper” (bonito flakes). Because he understands “fish” and “paper”, and he couldn’t figure out what fishies we were talking about him being allowed to eat until we described it that way.

      The really funny one is “move your butt” which is a standard when the kitties are in the way. Somehow he seems to have figured out that “butt” is part of his anatomy, and “move” does not always have to mean “out of the way”, so when he’s feeling bratty he will literally just move his butt… wiggle it back and forth then look up expectantly like “OK I did what you said, now what?” It AMAZES me how much some cats can pick up. 🙂

      Pondering a post on the subject on my own blog once I can get my head together… because I’m nosy at what other people’s cats have learned to understand.

  6. Karyl, would love to read your blog post on kitty language! Our cat (and dog) even know a bit of Farsi (slang). It’s whatever they hear enough and can directly associate an action, I think.

    • Once I get it together enough to post I’ll tweet the link, will try to remember to @ you as well. 🙂 My writing abilities for nonfiction aren’t always the best and lately with cold season hitting hard, it’s making slow work of it. LOL

  7. Amy…you have definitely hit the nail on its head when you mentioned many geriatric cats or even young felines are relinquished because of inappropriate urination-sprayig or not using the litter box. The most common medical contributing factors in geriatric cats are arthritis, dementia and even separation anxiety related to cognitive dysfunction.I can not overly emphasize the importance of getting your kitty cat checked by a vet to

    • Absolutely folks MUST see the vet in these cases, Rayya! Arthritis is a biggie and folks often won’t recognize it because the kitty just…well, stops moving so much and sleeps more.


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