By Allison Ford, DivineCaroline
I can barely stumble out of bed in the morning before my cat tries to strike up a conversation. As she goes through her busy day, she tells me when she’s ready to eat, when she wants to play, and if she’s in another room and sees a bug, she demands that I come vanquish it immediately. She doesn’t speak English, of course, but she’s trained me to correctly interpret every little sound she makes, from the meekest “meep” to the mightiest “MROW!”
Talk Kitty to Me
When cats communicate with each other, they do so almost silently. Felines mostly communicate through smell and body language, rarely having to raise their voices. Cats leave scent markers to tell other cats about their sex, their reproductive status, and their health, and when communicating face to face, they rely on a complex system of postures and body language to let each other know how they’re feeling. Cats are experts at communication, so with the exception of hisses and growls, most cat-to-cat interactions are wordless. When the humans enter the room, however, suddenly everyone’s got something to say. That’s because many of the vocalizations cats make are expressly for human benefit.
Cats start meowing when they’re kittens, in order to get their mother’s attention and food, and the most vocal babies are the ones who get the most of each. Domestic cats never grow out of this juvenile vocalization, because they’ve learned that it’s a pretty effective way to get what they want from people. It’s almost as if domestic cats think of us as mother figures, and they’re not afraid to let us know when they’re hungry, angry, or want some affection.