The pointed and slightly provocative title comes from a study which found that women consider their domestic cat companions to be more communicative and empathetic than men do. In other words women get more out of communicating with their cat than men. This prompted the question in the title.
It would not surprise me that in some long marriages the wife would respond with a yes to the question.
The study also found that women with a good education are more likely to talk in human language to their cat rather than use cat sounds. This indicates that they anthropomorphise their cats more than less educated women. Educated female cat owners also felt that their cat as being more communicative and empathetic.
An interesting finding of the study is that many cat owners use cat sounds when communicating with their cat whereas dog owners rarely do so. Young cat owners use cat voicalizations more often than older people. And imitating cat sounds occurred more frequently when the owner started play sessions with their cat.
You don’t hear of dog owners barking and growling at their dog! Perhaps the reason is simply a practical one. It’s much easier and more pleasant to meow and purr at your cat than bark at your dog but there may be a deeper reason.
Another finding confirms what is probably already known namely that cat owners are often unsure what their cats wants when meowing at them (if it means something other than a request for food) whereas dog owners feel that they are good at assessing the emotional content of dog sounds, particularly the bark.
The findings come from a questionnaire sent to 157 Hungarian cat owners about their relationships with their cats. The questions focused on the cat-to-human relationship and the cat’s socio-cognitive abilities. As, mentioned, some aspects of the cat-human relationship are specific to cats while others were the same for both cats and dogs.
The study is called: The socio-cognitive relationship between cats and humans – Companion cats (Felis catus) as their owners see them. It is by: Péter Pongrácz and Julianna Szulamit Szapu. You can see the abstract here.