KITTENS

How to Talk to Your Cat: Yes, Really

Happy couple with their cat
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

We all want to talk to our cat. We want to know what they are thinking, whether they need something, and most importantly, how they feel about us. Most cat owners believe that their cat understands them to a certain degree, but not to a point where a legit two-way conversation can be had. Well, the good news is, it’s totally possible! It may not be the way humans talk to each other, but once you’re done learning how to talk to your cat from this article, a state of mutual understanding can be achieved.

We talk primarily because we want to pass on a message. We also talk to seek comfort, to ease the pain of loneliness, and to deepen the bond we share with our loved ones. It feels good to express ourselves when we talk, but it wouldn’t feel as good if no feedback or response is incoming because it means our words aren’t understood. To make yourself understood, you have to speak the same language as the other conversationalist. Learn the cat language from this article, and soon your cat will respond merrily to whatever you say.

A woman talking to her tabby cat

This article will break down a step-by-step guide on how to talk to your cat, and we will also help you understand what your cat is saying. We strive to explain the many different ways talking is done—especially with a cat. It doesn’t matter for what reason you’d like to talk to your cat. Your cat would love to hear you talk, and if you understand each other, your life together will be even more smooth-sailing.

How to Talk to Your Feline

Talking has been how humans communicate from the days of our ancestors. It is the act of expressing ideas, feelings, and information by using two channels of communication: spoken words and body gestures.

A couple talking with their ginger cat

If you pay attention, you’ll realize that cats mostly use actions to communicate their feelings to both humans and other animals alike. Although, they also understand verbal methods of communication.

Verbal Conversation

To have a verbal conversation with your cat, you have to first make sure she has learned her name. When you talk to your cat, use her name so that she knows that what you are saying is directed at her. Calling your cat’s name often when you issue commands will train her ears to become familiar with your voice, and she will look at you and listen when her name is called.

Verbal Method #1: Use Some Simple Human Words

You should not only repeat her name but also the words that you want her to associate with a particular activity. For example, if its bedtime and you want her to go to sleep, you should repeat the word sleep anytime she is about to. Over time she will come to associate the word with actual sleep time.

Cat paying attention to his owners voice

Just make sure to be consistent when talking to your cat. Inconsistencies will only confuse your cat, and if she can’t figure you out, she will give up trying to understand you and resort to doing her own thing.

This applies to both words that show affection and words of discipline. If you allow a bad behavior to slip today then try to correct her tomorrow, she will continue being bad because she cannot associate what she is doing to any pattern of response from you.

Verbal Method #2: Use the Right Tones

Research shows that cats respond better to a soprano-pitched voice, so it’s great if you are a female cat owner. If you are a male parent, then you need to use a voice that’s two to three octaves higher than your usual tone.

Beautiful cat paying attention to his owner

Also, the key is to speak in tones that emit kindness, warmth, and endear you to your cat. We all like to spend time with someone that speaks to us in a way that makes us feel safe. So does your cat. Get your tone right, and your cat will soon be talking back to you.

Verbal Method #3: Use the Right Facial Expressions

Facial expressions say fifty percent of what we intend to say even when we don’t speak at all. It’s even more important when you do speak. Your expressions should match the content of your words so that your cat can understand you better. When you are praising her, you should smile and lighten your face, because your cat can read your expressions and reaction.

Verbal Method #4: Imitate Her Sounds

Silly as it may be, you should be ready to imitate the noises that your cat makes. Imitating her meows may not make sense to you, but it does to her. It makes her feel as if you are a kindred spirit.

A man talking to his cat

This will make your cat give you more attention when you talk to her even in human language. It may sometimes help if you can crouch down to her level and connect with her. Laying down on the carpet so you can be at her eye level when you speak to her is worth it.

Verbal Method #5: Use a Cat Translator

There are apps created to help you understand what your cat is saying. Their effectiveness, however, is not certain. Most of the apps are probably designed for fun only.

A cat using a Computer Aided Translation CAT tool

Recently, though, inventors have gone ahead to create a cat collar that can analyze your cat’s sounds and interpret them in human language to enable you to understand what your cat is saying better.

The collar works using a digital sensor that records the noises that your cat makes and analyzes them with the stored data. It then speaks back to you in a human voice. It may not be available at all pet stores because it’s a new invention, but if you have access to it, that will make things easier.

Non-Verbal Conversation

Your cat has done her part. She now responds when you call out to her and understands some simple commands. So don’t you think it’s time you return the favor by learning the cat language? It is a gift when you meet someone, and you can communicate with them in their own language. It makes them feel a sense of camaraderie with you. You can gift your cat that way as well, by saying special things in the way they do.

Cat Language #1: The Tail Talks

The feline’s tail is one very vital body part that she often uses to talk to you.

A cat in three colors trying to say something to his owner

The first step to being a cat linguist is to be able to interpret what she is saying with her tail.

  • Unlike a dog that wags their tail when they are happy and excited to see their owner, cats wagging their tail is a sign of trouble. Cats do this when they are ready to pounce.
  • When a cat’s tail is straight up, it shows that your cat is happy—especially if there is a curl formed at the top.
  • Her tail twitches and vibrates when she is excited or full of anxiety.
  • When you see the tail tucked under her backside, it means she is scared.
  • When your cat’s tail makes the shape “N,” and her fur sticks up, then she is extremely aggressive. She is getting ready to attack or defend herself against something she feels is threatening to her.
  • When the tail fur is sticking up, and the tail is low, your cat is frightened or feeling aggressive.

Most of the time your cat’s tail will be relaxed and positioned 180-degree in conjunction with her spine. This is a cat tail’s default position. This happens when your cat isn’t trying to convey anything to you.

Cat Language #2: Looks Matter

Sometimes when you look at someone, you can tell what they are feeling because it shows in their face and eyes.

a cat sitting on a laptop and looking at his owner

Cat eyes can say a lot of things:

  • Dilated pupils can indicate playfulness and excitement.
  • A long stare from your cat shows she is comfortable around you.
  • Say I love you, cat style, by slowly blinking your eyes. You get it right when you do it slowly; you will probably get an “I love you” blink in response.

It is always great to consider looks and body language together for an overall more comprehensive interpretation of what your cat is saying.

Cat Language #3: The Ears Speak

Felines speak with their ears all the time; the positioning of their ears is relevant to a feeling.

  • When your cat gets curious, their ears are faced forward or mostly towards the sound that piques their curiosity.
  • When a cat feels uneasy, the ears are turned to the sides like the wings of an airplane. It means she doesn’t like what she is hearing and she doesn’t want to hear the noises anymore. If you see this, you better stop the source of the noise or go investigate to see how you can make your cat feel better.
  • If your cat’s ears start to flicker or vibrate in quick successions, she is feeling agitated or aroused. Usually, if it continues, an attack will be imminent.
  • When the ears are flattened completely to the cats head, then your furry friend is angry or fearful. It is a reaction that comes involuntarily with the intent of keeping the ears away from been chewed on or scratched at by a foe or a predator.

Cat Language #4: Bumping Noses

You can also greet your cat in her own way which involves touching noses; in this case, your hand can serve as your nose. Curl up your index finger to the shape of a cat’s nose.

A woman playing with her cat

Get down to your cat’s level and slowly extend your hands to her. Position yourself in front of her or by her side—whichever feels easier. Watch her come greet you afterwards.

Cat Language #5: Disciplinary Acts

In a bid to talk to your cat, don’t let the boundaries that you have set be crossed. If she becomes aggressive and starts scratching or biting, be quick to discipline her by ignoring her or grabbing her by the scruff of the neck.

a cat biting herowners hands

You can use whatever method has worked for you before, but make sure you don’t hurt—or worse, injure her—in the process. Remember to be firm and don’t be concerned about how it may affect your communication when you are strict in dealing with bad behavior—because it won’t.

Wrap Up

Since the concept of body language is not unfamiliar to us, you should be able to catch on to how cats speak rather quickly. Rather than taking each gesture in separately, you have to be able to read the reaction of your cat’s ears, eyes, and tail in one cohesive whole to be able to get the full picture of what your cat is saying.

You should also take the time to understand your cat personally. Although there is a general cat way of communicating, studies have shown that each cat has their own dialect or unique style of doing things, like humans. You need to observe your cat first to talk effectively to her.

Observe your cat as she interacts with you. Consider your cat as an individual and learn what each sound and body language mean. That way, when you talk to her, you can read her response well, and it can become communicative rather than one-directional.

A woman and her cat relaxing in bed

For example, your cat’s habit may be to scratch your bedroom door when she is hungry or circle your legs twice when she wants to go outdoors. It may be a behavior unique to your cat as well, such as biting your hair when she wants to be petted. Your better understanding of her would make her more receptive to listening to you when you talk.

Whether you end up speaking cat language or human language, the goal of talking to your cat is to build a closer, more intimate relationship between the two of you. In the end, talking to your cat will be rewarding for both parties. It will take your companionship beyond mere mutual benefits and well into the territory of a lifetime of genuine friendship.

How do you usually talk to your cat? Does your cat have a special habit or body gesture that wasn’t mentioned in this article? Share your cat’s unique language with us in the comments section below!

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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