Newsday Tuesday – What Did That Cat Say?

This is a fun topic. If you have one or more cats, you know that cats have opinions and desires and dislikes and some cats are quite the expert at communicating these. They use lots of body language. You know right away when a cat wants to be petted and when she doesn’t. Your cat will complain loud and clear when she doesn’t want a bath or her nails clipped or to be on the other side of a closed door.

I’ve had cats that talk when I’m on the phone. Do you know why they do that? Some say it’s because the cat hears you talking and they think you’re talking to them. Of course you talk to your cat, right? And does she talk back? Ours do. It’s been reported and documented that cats do not use their voice with other cats. We, as humans, evidently teach them to “speak.” They meow, mew, yowl, in response to our voice. And some cats can become quite vocal. Some breeds tend to be more vocal than others. Does that mean they’re more intelligent? Do they really believe they’re creating words? Is there meaning to the sounds they make? And that brings us to another sticky wicket question. Do cat’s understand our words or our tone? It sure seems like it sometimes, doesn’t it?

Lily brings me her small stuffed toys and my cozy socks with a prrrrt sound or a yowl—I take it as a, “Hey, Mom, I brought you something!” Last week I’d been gone all day. When I stepped inside the house, here came Lily from the bedroom with one of my cozy socks. She dropped it at my feet, looked up at me and meowed. So sweet.

Sophie can’t stand it when Dennis goes outside. If he drives away in the car that’s a different story, but if she knows he’s out in the yard someplace, she stands at the door and cries until he comes back in. Is she worried about him? Does she simply miss him? Who knows?

I walked up the steps to a feed store in my town the other day and was met at the door by the store cat who was meowing up a storm. I stopped to survey the situation and saw that there was a large dog in the store who was getting a lot of attention. That must have been what the cat was complaining to me about.

Smokey (aka Rags in my stories) used to lead visitors to where we kept his treats insisting in clear cat language that he be given one. We eventually had to put him on a diet—the veterinarian said, “Smokey is getting too much love.” That was a hard pill for us to swallow, but we exchanged all those treats for more affection and Smokey survived the transition.



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