“Cat Talk” or “Cat Speak” is a form of communication arising out of an intimate and close relationship. All of us, who have travelled to foreign countries, without foreign language skills, know that it is possible to manage; to get by and make ourselves understood. We use gestures, expressions, bits of the language, pointing and all manner of alternative means to communicate. We get the message across. We can communicate without having a common language.
And so it is with the domestic cat but we use a different way of finding a means to communicate. All cat lovers end up understanding their cat. And vice-versa. It happens naturally, through years of close interaction. An observant and caring cat caretaker quickly learns what their cat wants, likes, desires; her moods and routines. Cats learn about our routines and they learn how we respond to their requests.
For example, a cat makes a request to go outside, or for food, by meowing (language), facial expression, body posture (body language) and by the fact that these forms of communication are made within the context of routines. “Cat talk” is a combination of:
- Meows and other vocalizations (sounds) made by the cat,
- The time and place when these sounds were made (the context),
- The body language of the cat,
- The routines of cat and cat caretaker when taken together.
Bundle these elements together and you have excellent communication without a common language.
The more intimate and frequent the interaction between person and cat, the greater the understanding between them. To a cat lover this just happens. It is fun. However, to some cat owners there probably needs to be a slight adjustment to the relationship in which the person becomes more observant and connected to their cat.
This is the joy of “cat ownership” – getting inside the head of your cat so you truly understand him. This only happens when there is plenty of close contact – stroking, lying together, playing together, looking at each other, talking to each other (he meows, you make some sort of cat talk sounds that you have made up), eating together, going outside together and so on.
The better a person knows their partner – be they husband or wife or common law partners – the more able they are to communicate without saying anything. A person who is very close to another person is able to read that person’s mood, emotions and desires without uttering a word. It is about intimacy, a strong bond, a connection born from a loving interaction. From that we are able to talk cat – communicate without language.
P.S. Jo Singer’s article, recently published, inspired me to write this and we briefly touched on this subject in a Skype conversation.