My cat Coco is a tortoiseshell kitty, and she blends incredibly well into my couch. I call her my stealth cat. She is also allowed outside and has complete freedom to my large yard through a cat door. She also knows when I get home she has to check in with me, so I don’t worry. A few times I have not seen her tucked in the corner of my sofa and I’ll call her from my front door and then I will hear this comforting little meow coming from behind me. This inflection I rarely hear from her and I know she’s telling me, “it’s ok mom I’m right here!”
You and your pet may speak different languages, but you indeed can communicate with each other. As with humans, we gather a lot from eye contact, facial expressions, body language, along with the timbre of our voice. The same goes for animals. The look in your cat and dog’s eyes can speak volumes. Plus their vocal tone, the position of their ears, and the motion of their tail can reveal their emotions and motives. The better you read the signals, the better you communicate with your 4-legged best friend.
A bark or a meow can mean many things. They use their voice as a greeting, a command such as “Wake up!” An objection as “I don’t want a bath.” Or as an announcement. I’m very familiar with the last one when my cat is thrilled she caught a rat and is making sure I notice her sweet gift to me. Often without realizing animals and their 2-legged companions develop a secret code of communicating.
This is especially true with cats. Not every meow means the same, and when talking to their humans, each vocalization can say something different. As you bond with your feline, they learn an arbitrary, determined, and attention-seeking style, rather than a universal cat-human language. Your kitty doesn’t have the sound of asking for help; a purr is as close as they’re going to get. One of my favorite quotes, “A cat can purr its way out of anything.” Who precisely is behind the saying has been lost to me.
You are not crazy for talking to your pet. I think it would be the opposite! Animals enjoy your typical, everyday chatter. Talking with your fur buddy helps them know your voice and strengthens your relationship. They will soon learn your cadence and catch on to your wishes and commands. If you have a particular sound when talking to your pet, they will eventually learn it’s their voice, and likely begins to respond.
As my mother told me, I have always been fluent in cat and dog!
(Information for this blog has been assisted by the Humane Society/ John Bradshaw/anthrozoologist, University of Bristol)