- Can My Cat Understand Me?
By: Lia De Lemos
It's not clear, however, if cats know their name as their own identity. At the very least, they know the sound of their name carries a special meaning of some sort. Kind of like the sound of their plastic bag of treats being opened! Researchers call this ability a "salient stimulus" where cats associate certain sounds with rewards or positive affirmations. This skill can also be called "associative learning" of which all animals are capable of!
Try your own little experiment with your cat by saying four words similar to their names and follow up with their own name! And make sure you're using an uplifting and positive tone in doing so.
Many have found that cats generally respond to higher pitched sounds, especially if you're trying to call them over. If you are using a more neutral tone, chances are your cat will flat-out ignore you. This is due to the psychological concept called habituation, where an animal will ignore signals that don't benefit them. This is why tone is very important whenever you want to communicate with your cat!
However, just because you're using a positive tone with a command doesn't always mean your cat will follow. Whenever you want to call over your cat, make sure you do so with purpose. Whether it leads to treats, playtime, or cuddles, your cat will gradually perk up every time you call their name!
Will My Cat Understand If I "Meow"?
Sorry to break it to you, but human meows mean nothing to cats. At most, you can get your cat's attention and they may even appreciate your attempts to communicate by purring or even meowing back. But to most cats, human meows sound like human language.
Natural cat meows have a certain sound to it that humans likely cannot match. Just like how cats can't speak human languages, we can't speak cat language. While it certainly can't hurt to meow at your cat, you may have an easier time if you just stick to your own human language!
Cats meow at us to get our attention. They meow because they want us humans to do something for them. Always know that when your cat meows at you, they don't do so to simply strike up a conversation. Most of the time they will meow and sometimes lead you to their desired request. Whether it's a closed door, dirty litter, or empty food bowl, your cat will excessively meow at you until they get what they want.
Know That Your Cat Loves You!
Despite cats being independent and "anti-social", know that your cat always loves and appreciates you! Communicating with them can be a bit difficult and it's often hard to decipher what they want as well. Nevertheless, there are ways to communicate with your cat as long as you have positive reinforcements to back you up! If you are just dying to know what your cat is feeling, then there are plenty of resources to read a cat's behavior and body language.
Research is still growing and working hard to this day in order to gain more insight into a cat's understanding. For now, the best we can do is positively call their names and teach them commands. And lastly, your relationship with your cat is sure to grow if you chat with them on a daily basis!
Lia is a second-year studying Journalism and minoring in Media Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She is currently in the Bay Area and is excited to start developing her career in digital media. She has two cats and three dogs living in her household, so you might call her an animal-lover.
Lastly, Lia hopes for her content to be an enjoyable read to