Megan Walendzinski on Quora.com asks: Can cats learn words? This is an interesting question and I’ll try and answer it in this short post.
There is no doubt that domestic cat cannot learn the spoken or written words of, let’s say, the English language. They can’t read English. But domestic cats can learn the sound of the words of the English language or, indeed, any other language native to the country in which they reside.
Cats can learn their name by its sound. Cats can acquire a rudimentary vocabulary but only through sounds which they usually equate with reward. The classic example is calling your cat’s name at breakfast or dinner or whenever. He understands that the sound you make, which is the sound of his name, means that food is to be served and he comes in great eagerness an expectation.
The domestic cat might even learn a sentence through the sound it makes. This is because he or she will equate the connected sounds with a consequence as a result of informal training. You don’t need to train your cat using a clicker. Over time your cat trains you and vice versa
For example, the phrase: ‘Come on’ will have a certain ring to it which your cat recognises. It is two words but together they make a sound and your cat will understand the meaning of those words through the sound.
I won’t go on. It’s not a question of understanding language by being able to read that language or interpret the spoken word, it’s a question of recognising the sound of words and what they mean through the consequences that follow.
Therefore, in a limited way, cats can learn words. These are my personal views and of course I am open to any suggestions including those which argue against my thoughts.
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