FloridaWild Vet Hospital

Chat with your cat: A Purrfect way to Bond with your kitty

Have you ever had an in-depth conversation with your cats? If so, did you feel that your kitties understood what you were talking about? What’s even more important, were you able to fully grasp the meaning of your cat’s responses? My hat’s off to those kitty-pawrents who were actually able to communicate verbally with their cats.

Most likely there will be a handful of folks who are reading this article who must think that I have lost my mind. I have to admit that there’s still a small part of me that finds it hard to believe that the delightfully animated conversation I had with them the other morning was actually real. However, I bet my bottom dollar that there are plenty of avid feline aficionados who know exactly what I am talking about when I share my recent experience communicating with my two four-year old kitties.

For some reason that eludes me, a few days ago I started prattling on and on asking Aki if he had enjoyed his breakfast, whether he really loved the feather toys that Santa brought him for Catmas, and to let me know his reaction to the rerun of Jackson Galaxy’s feisty episode of “My Cat from Hell” we recently watched.

Although I assumed that I was having a one-way conversation with my beloved cat, I was blown away when Aki started meowing back at me, commenting on everything I was telling him. That was the moment that I began believing that Aki was really involved in a two-way conversation with me because it was obvious that he understood my every word.

I often greet Aki with a “hello” whenever I run into him while I am walking through the house. Since Aki generally returns my greeting with his deep-throated “meow”, it got me to thinking that it really is possible that Aki has learned the word, “hello”, and is mimicking the sound back to me.

I realize that there are folks who consider that it’s meaningless to spend time talking to cats. The problem is that they don’t believe that their cats can understand what they are saying. The fact of the matter is that cats do understand us when we praise them, or when we express our disapproval of their naughty behavior with the tone of our voice. Our cats’ confidence can be bolstered when we speak lovingly to them, while words spoken in harsh and angry tones can quickly erode their trust.

The more frequently we speak to our cats, the more likely it will be they may attempt to engage with us in two-way conversations. Regular communication with our cats can help us learn more about what they are thinking and feeling. In fact; cats have uncanny methods to build an extensive vocabulary.

To teach Edgar Allen Poe the word “treat”, while I was giving him his favorite vitamin chews, I repeated the word “treat”. Within a few days he learned the word and he now comes running when I use it. Both cats have already learned that the phrase “Dinner is served” means it’s feeding time. The phrase gets them running to their food dishes as quickly as the “Pavlovian” whirring sound of an electric can opener worked back in the day. Aki has learned that the phrase “Sleepy time” is an invitation for cuddling with me under the covers.

Most cats will easily learn their names. Unless they’re not in the mood or something more interesting has caught their interest, if you call them, they will respond to you. However, remember that cats have a mind of their own!

If you listen to your cats’ mews, chirps and other sounds that your cats make and watch their behavior, you will learn their vocabulary. A “churtling” sound may translate into an expression of affection and desire to be petted; while a loud yowling noise could mean your cat is feeling insecure, confused or is hurting physically.

For those who are open to exploring inter-species communication; talking with your cats can be highly enjoyable and a lot of fun.

Photo credit: Flickr User: temptantionize

By: Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW, (Ret.)

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