Do Cats Understand What We Say?

in Animal

"I'm sure he understands every word" is a thought that has crossed many of our minds as we look at our pets looking at us.

I believe we can set up discourse with animals more than we currently 'believe' We know about horse whisperers, now dog whisperers in the US. There is a lot of emerging evidence that animals understand more than we think they do. It's easy to see references to talking (communicating) to animals on sites and blogs everywhere.

Here's were it began in the public consciousness - an excerpt from a very old book, famous worldwide - Doctor Doolittle.

At tea-time, when the dog, Jip, came in, the parrot said to the Doctor, "See, HE'S talking to you."

"Looks to me as though he were scratching his ear," said the Doctor.

"But animals don't always speak with their mouths," said the parrot in a high voice, raising her eyebrows. "They talk with their ears, with their feet, with their tails-with everything. Sometimes they don't WANT to make a noise. Do you see now the way he's twitching up one side of his nose?"

"What's that mean?" asked the Doctor. "That means, `Can't you see that it has stopped raining?'" Polynesia answered. "He is asking you a question. Dogs nearly always use their noses for asking questions.

My Talks With Kittens I have always found that talking to kittens helps to bond with them at least and sometimes they turn into remarkably understanding companions. When I was a child I talked to my kitten all the time and we had an understanding I took for granted at the time. Lately I had care for a few weeks of a litter of kittens waiting for homes.

They were a lot of joy and took up no end of time. Buffy liked to ride on my shoulders during the chores. He liked the ups and downs when I was picking things up, though he was a most considerate kit from the off and kept his pins to himself.

So I chatted away and explained what I was doing which had become a natural habit with my own babies who thought I was their horse. Buffy liked being talked to. How could I tell? Well I just could. I'm sure he knew the difference between no and yes within the first day. Anyway, if he didn't like it he'd be off.

Training or Talking? There were rules. No stepping on the keyboard - ever. Wires were out of bounds. Getting on the table came much later - I loved playing with them on the table so re-training was inevitable. I found people were amazed to see such young kittens stepping carefully around the keyboard.Yet I never thought of it as training - just talking to them.

The thing is I talked to Buffy a lot. I never thought about it much at the time because this was not his home - his new grown up mum would set her own rules. They were all litter trained from their natural mother so they knew that there were things to learn.

Buffy never left me alone when I had a bath and even ventured in and walked over my part submerged tummy. He got got a bit prickly with his pins at first so I told him it was not on with a mild reaction. He learned that claws out meant sinking up to his knees. He soon caught on because I was fully focused on him supporting him every inch in his tiny life adventure.

When I have time for a kitten companion I shall get one and also a puppy and set up an experiment about training them to communicate with me as well as each other. In the first instance I believe that the art comes from acute observation of the kitten - undivided attention and care with the tone and emphasis.

That's what I notice about people who are good with animals.

Love helps - a lot. Kittens feel it, as we do too - and come to expect it.

Author Box
Jackie Mackay has 1 articles online

Follow the blog for more on the subject of kitten understanding and training PLUS resounding pictures in the Kittenish Galleries on

Add New Comment

Do Cats Understand What We Say?

Log in or Create Account to post a comment.
Security Code: Captcha Image Change Image
This article was published on 2010/03/30