Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cat Sounds and Communication

How far can and do we go when communicating with our cat? People who are not cat lovers or who dislike cats, and therefore have little or a distorted knowledge of cats, would argue that you can't communicate at all with cats.

Those of us who have lived with cats for years and spent endless hours communicating with our cat companions, know better, don't we?

But it is quite interesting trying to analyze how far we can go in our communication.

Some forms of cat to human communication are obvious. The most common is when our cat reminds us that it is time for dinner, or breakfast etc. They meow at us in varying degrees of politeness and/or frustration. If we ignore them, the amplitude goes up. There is no doubt that a cat expresses his or her emotions through their voice.

I believe that the area of cat to human communication is a developing one in two senses. Cats are learning to communicate with us, their surrogate mothers. They rarely meow to each other. This is an evolving area over decades.

Secondly the scientists have done little research on cat communication. There is work on the sounds they make but not much on the nuances of the vocalisations of the meow (vowel sounds) and murmur sounds (e.g. purr) and what they mean.

Cats as individuals have a wide range of vocalisations and some cats have a wider "vocabulary". Interpreting these nuanced sounds is good for the cat/human relationship as it allows us to better understand our cat's emotions and desires. We are then better placed to respond appropriately. This makes for a good relationship. The cat leads.

We cannot discuss philosophy with our cat but then neither can we with most people. However, we can and instinctively do express our feelings and immediate desires and emotions to each other. The level of communication is a bit like the experiences we encounter when we are in a strange country and can't speak the language; sounds and signs do the job.

One aspect of cat communication that interests me is, what sounds do you make in response? I make weird sounds. It is instinctive.

How far do you go in communicating with your cat?

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