How to talk to a cat
Cats have a lot to communicate, but the challenge is figuring it out. And since they can’t form words, they only have body language, eye contact, and sounds at their disposal to explain things. That means if you want to talk to your cat it’s up to you to pay attention and learn to read their signals. Yes, it’s our responsibility. We’re the ones who brought them inside and made pets of them. If we want harmony and a minimum of messy events, it’s in our own best interest to accommodate the cat.
Make no mistake, it is possible to train and even talk to a cat, but it takes a commitment on your part. You need patience, and you need to accept that training a cat is different from training most other household pets. Whether you’re just starting out with a new kitten or you’ve had an unruly cat for years, there are three key things that you should keep in mind when trying to figure out how to train and talk to cats.
Talking to cats – the basics
First of all, cats learn through experience. For instance, if you feed your cat every time he starts yowling and complaining, it becomes a learned behavior – he’ll continue his yowling, thinking that it’s the proper way to signal hunger or thirst. With this in mind, it’s important to always punish the bad behavior and reward the good.
Second, always talk to your cat. You may feel a little silly at first, but there’s no doubt that cats can recognize and register the pitch, tone, and sound of your voice. As well as the emphasis, and even certain words, they then take this information put it through their own cat language translator to decode the message. When you want to discourage bad behavior, pick a word or a sentence and keep repeating it to your cat. Your cat will eventually realize that he’s done something wrong. Conversely, when you want to reward good behavior, pick another word and repeat it in the same manner.
Third, remember that cats can become agitated and aggressive in response to serious stress or changes in their environment. If your cat has suddenly become irritable when before he was agreeable and good-natured, it may be due to recent upheaval. This can be brought on by something as obvious as the introduction of a new pet or as simple as moving your cat’s litter box.
It’s true that cats can be extremely fickle. One minute they’ll be lounging peacefully in your lap and the next they might be clawing at the furniture, meowing uncontrollably, or just causing havoc in general. But it’s that same streak of independence that makes a cat-lover out of all cat-owners. If you begin with the three basic tips in this article, you’ll be able to work through the ins-and-outs of how to train your cat faster than you may think.
Here are some common signals cats use to get our attention:
Meow, yowl, purr, growl, hiss, grumble, snarl. All of these have nuances of pitch, duration and “attitude.” Add to that any personal variances for every cat, and you end up with a fairly complicated set of patterns we could be tempted to call “speech.”
However, since the basic sounds are colored by individual differences, there is no consistent pattern that could be regarded as feline speech. We only end up with a personal communication model that can be a point of reference between a cat and the owner who pays attention.
It’s also been shown that cats use different sounds to communicate with each other than those used with humans. Obviously, they know we don’t understand them, so they develop specific sounds as they learn what gets our attention. Then they expand on those. Cats are very smart!
Most people are familiar with the arched back, usually accompanied by the bottle-brush tail, meaning
they are frightened and unpredictable. This is not a good time to pick her up, unless you know your cat well enough to understand that your comforting embrace will calm her. Never approach a strange cat at this time.
Signs that a cat is comfortable, happy and confident include a perfectly upright tail, or the commonly seen “question mark” position. If the tail is held straight behind or appears “limp,” the cat is checking things out and hasn’t decided what attitude to display yet.
Watch how the cat walks. A slow slinking along the outer edges of a room tells you that she is wary and not sure of things. This is common with a new cat, as she looks around her new surroundings to ascertain safety and to locate strategic hiding places or escape routes. This is usually combined with the limp tail position. A confident cat will walk with purpose, along with an upright tail.
Head-butting and rubbing are signs of acceptance, “love” if you want to call it that, and good feelings experienced with you. Rubbing is a way for them to “mark” you, too. They have scent glands in their cheeks and above their eyes, so if you are being marked, just appreciate it. Don’t worry… only they can smell it.
Treading (or kneading) is another sign of contentment, as many cats will rhythmically step-step on you, alternating one foot, then the other. It’s a throwback to kittenhood, possibly, when they needed to press on their mothers to express milk during nursing. One thing it is not is a method of stealing a baby’s breath. What nonsense, but that belief still hangs on here and there?
Some cats will flop onto the floor in front of you, on their side. As you lurch aside to avoid stepping on them, usually at an unexpected moment, such as when you are carrying in the groceries, the cat may roll, making you step over her twice. While this is a show of complete trust in you, it’s probably not the smartest thing a cat can do. But some do it anyway. They simply know you aren’t going to step on them and all we can do is hope we never accidentally betray them!
And what’s with that funny face they make? Sometimes they pause after sniffing something, holding their mouth slightly open. It looks like they are saying, “Ewwww.” But actually they are evaluating the odor with a special nerve bundle called Jacobsen’s Organ.
Cats are great with this one and for that reason I consider it the best way to talk to cats, due to their very expressive eyes. Not only do they convey feelings to us with their eyes, but this is a major form of communication between them as well. In fact, a blind cat will be shunned by many cats, because that one can’t respond to the others appropriately. Cats who feel ignored will have less respect for the cat that is ignoring them. They often pick fights with those and may slap them as they walk by.
A wide eyed look is typical of kittens, as they are in learn mode and everything is interesting, or frightening. It’s the look of innocence and naivete, and we can see it in the eyes of most youngsters of any species. Be careful what you teach a cat at this time, because lessons learned now will stay with the cat throughout life.
If your cat is squinting at you, don’t get upset. Many people think this is how cats look at you when plotting revenge for something. However, after observing many hundreds of cats at the shelter and at home, and watching unowned cats outdoors, it’s become more obvious that this is a sign that the cat is content. Thus, if your cat is staring at you from a motionless posture, take it as a compliment, not an insult or a warning. She is in love with you. It comforts her to watch you, even if you aren’t doing anything. Cats do not have human emotions, and revenge is a human emotion. They simply do not have that in them.
How to get your cat to come when called
Cats can be elusive creatures, and sometimes the task of getting them to come when called can seem daunting. However, if you approach this in the right way and with the right attitude, your cat will be able to understand you in no time! Here are some effective steps that work like a cat language translator for most cats.
Step 1: Begin by making it a habit to talk to your cat often, and create a strong bond with her through petting, brushing, and spending time together. Take every opportunity to give her your love and attention. Having a good relationship with your cat is very important.
Step 2: Find a special dry treat that she really loves. This should be something that she doesn’t have very often, and it will only be used for this purpose. While you are training her to come when called, make sure you don’t give her this particular treat at any other time. Please choose something small and nutritious. A snack that is good for your cat’s teeth would be ideal.
Step 3: Find a special word that will be used for training her to come. This will become a word that she associates only with this special treat, so think of something that she won’t often hear at other times.
Step 4: The next time you give your cat a snack, use the special word. Put one treat in her empty food bowl while speaking the word out loud.
Step 5: Say the word again after she eats the treat. Then give her another of the same treat, and use the word again in the same way.
Step 6: Step away from your cat now. If she protests that she is “starving” you can say the word again and give her one more piece. Then leave the room.
Step 7: About 4 minutes later, repeat the entire process again. Your cat will begin to learn to associate the special word with her special treat.
Step 8: Continue doing this a few times a day for the next several days. Eventually, your cat will learn to come to you when you say the special word.
Step 9: When your cat starts coming to you every time you say the special word, start giving her the treat only once in a while. The rest of the time, give her lots of attention (petting, scratches, playing with a toy, whatever she likes) for a few minutes. Then let her go. Repeat this process a few minutes later.
Step 10: If you have created a strong bond with your cat, and if you have followed the above procedures correctly, your cat will now associate your special word with the extra attention and loves she gets from you. She should now be coming to you when she hears you say the word.
Please remember, the treat must be a small and nutritious snack, not something large, or a whole bowl of food. She will be eating a fair number of these during training, and we don’t want her to gain extra weight!
Make sure that you use the special word every day, just so that she will come to you for affection and hugs. If you use it only when it is time to take her to the vet or give her a bath, she will learn to associate the word with unpleasant times and it can undermine the effects of your training. When these types of occasions do come up, give your cat the treat and then wait a little bit before following through with your “hidden motive”.
So why does this talking technique work so well?
What this all boils down to is conditioning your cat to associate your special word with getting attention from you. The word becomes the trigger, to which she responds in order to get something she wants. Once this happens, any time you say the special word your cat comes because she knows she will be rewarded.
As you can see, the bond you form with your cat is the most important aspect of getting her to come when you call. When your cat knows that she will get love and affection from being close to you, then she will WANT to come to you any time she can.
These are just a few ways you can begin to communicate with your cat. Although these are just the basics it’s best to get started as soon as you can. However if you cant seem to figure out how to talk to cats or just want to jump into the most effective method to date right away then you may want to check out the Cat Language Bible. The information inside the Cat Language Bible is based off breakthrough Japanese studies that prove cats can understand human emotions and essentially works as cat language translator. This book shows you step by step how to begin direct communication with your feline friends.
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