I Thought This Was Easy

Someone is offering to teach me how to talk to cats.

“The Cat Language Bible” – sounds like future litterbox lining.


It doesn’t seem to me to be “training your cat” as much as “your cat training its human” – which cats have been doing for a very long time.

I lived with a variety of cats for long periods of time, and found they could communicate pretty well. Squatting over my shoes and peeing on them meant: I don’t like you. Standing in front of the bowl where there was no food meant “HINT. HINT.” Kicking stuff out of the litter box and onto the floor meant  “I AM ALIVE AND WELL BUT I AM DISSATISFIED WITH YOUR STANDARDS OF CLEANLINESS.”



  1. Raucous Indignation says

    Yes, apparently all cats learn how their humans respond to certain sounds and will use the to order us around. It isn’t a universal language as such; it’s more like each individual cat figures out which nonsense noises gets the big hairless bipeds to do their bidding.

  2. says

    Oh ffs. If there’s one thing you can bank on, it’s too many cat owners being willing to buy any silly shit if it’s about cats.

  3. rq says

    As a set of opposable thumbs shared between two cats, I think they already do quite a fine job of communicating their needs and moods.

  4. Trickster Goddess says

    Anyone who has owned a cat doesn’t need any Japanese researchers to tell them that cats recognize their own names. Also, we already know that they understand our commands by the way that they actively ignore them.

  5. kestrel says

    I once saw a book title: “The Mind of the Cat”. I immediately thought: Aha! The shortest book in the world. This one however is possibly even shorter.

    Cats are not social animals; why would they need a language? They don’t meow to other cats, just to humans, because as noted above they are smart enough to figure out what motivates us. I’ve also seen cats do other things to try and manipulate humans: hold one front foot up in the air, stick their tongue out just a little bit, the “silent meow” etc.

    I like cats and have one but good glob. This is enough to make you suspect toxoplasmosis. ;-)

  6. jrkrideau says

    Cats are not social animals; why would they need a language

    Because they need language to give orders to their servants , err, humans?

    That “cats are not social animals” is something of a misunderstanding. Cats actually are quite social animals in many ways but they socialize quite differently than humans or dogs, etc.

    I am pretty sure I have seen a couple of MA theses or Ph.D dissertations on the subject—not that I read much of them. I remember one from many years ago discussing the elaborate travels and socializing of male cats at night in a semi-urban neighbourhood.

    Cats also seem to like their persons in many cases and seem to highly dislike some visitors—and I used to have the wounds to prove it. They just don’t fawn and lick a person to death as a Lab might.

    For a lay person’s educated approach to the topic have a look at http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/cat-myth-cats-are-aloof-and-independent/

    Oh and a great quote from another site;
    Some people describe cats as untrainable. Again that’s from the human perspective. Of course. What makes a cat appear untrainable is the fact that it will perform what it was trained to do on the basis of whether or not it wants to do it. Because the cat is not a pack animal, there is no inherent need or desire for the cat to comply with anyone’s wishes but its own.

  7. tecolata says

    Cats are not “social” in the sense of pack animals, but they communicate mother/kitten and kittens to one another. When humans bring them into our homes, we are essentially keeping them as juveniles. So they continue the communication they learned as kittens to command their human servants.

  8. says

    Trickster Goddess@#4:
    Anyone who has owned a cat doesn’t need any Japanese researchers to tell them that cats recognize their own names.

    When I was raising my puppies, we took them to a dog trainer for advice (we decided not to train them) but he did one demonstration that was pretty cool. We were talking and the dogs had decided to lie down and ignore us and he suddenly worked one of the dogs’ names into his conversation and the puppy’s ears came up. Quite an interesting demonstration! I was impressed (by the dog, not the trainer) – I hadn’t realized how soon we animals begin to establish our sense of identity.

  9. says

    Some people describe cats as untrainable.

    I am pretty sure some of my cats described me as untrainable.

    I had an especially annoying habit of occasionally pushing my cat Marbot off my knee and onto the floor whenever he deployed his claws into my knee. He seemed to do that when he got comfortable, so there was a nasty feedback loop of comfort->discomfort->comfort->discomfort

  10. Trickster Goddess says

    Marcus @#8:

    When I had 2 cats, not only did each know their own name, each of them also recognized their sister’s name, too.

  11. jrkrideau says

    @9 Marcus
    I am pretty sure some of my cats described me as untrainable.

    Or on the other hand, Marbot just had slightly distorted sense of humour?

  12. says

    Marbot just had slightly distorted sense of humour

    I’m not sure what “distorted sense of humor” means when you’re talking about critters whose idea of fun is eating the feet off mice.