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Do cats all speak the same language?

One time while traveling I was stuck on the tarmac waiting for a flight to take off. I was sitting next to a young man on his way back from a deployment in Afghanistan. We made conversation and got to talking about the war. I asked him if they were trained in the local language at all, and his response was to shrug and say, "Not really. Everyone understands what it means when you point a gun at them."

The point of this story is that language is only a small part of communication. Most humans know at least one language — a system that maps vocalizations to abstract concepts which can be assembled into communicable ideas. It's not a perfect system, and misunderstandings do happen, but it works pretty well for conveying complex ideas and negotiating our tricky primate social system.

Cats do not have a "language" in this sense. Verbal communication between cats is not mapped to abstract concepts the way our words are. There is no syntax or lexicon one can learn to understand them.

That said, like all intelligent animals, cats are very effective communicators. They employ a number of techniques to come to a shared understanding with each other, and even other species. Like a soldier with a gun, you don't need to exchange abstract ideas to get the point across.



Whether instinctive or learned, all cats seem to understand a set of signals from each other. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Body language. This is the primary way cats communicate their mood and assert their relationship to the other animal. An arched back says "get away from me." A swishing tail signifies irritation or anxiety. Flattened ears show fear and submission. A nose bump or sniff is a friendly greeting.
  • Scent. Cats are territorial. They may not erect physical signs saying KEEP OUT but they do leave scent markers that other cats recognize and know to respect.
  • Vocalization. Vocalizations set the atmosphere for an interaction. A gentle chirp says the cat feels in control. Low growls indicate warning or anger. Loud, harsh yowls are a sign of distress. If two cats are fighting in silence, it's more than likely just play. If they are spitting and hissing, it's the real deal.
  • Aggression. Everyone understands what it means when you rake a set of razor-sharp claws across their nose.

Cats can read each other very effectively using these cues, and they seem to manage a delicate social balance with a minimum of fuss. You can learn to read them too, and once you do, you will find you always have a pretty strong sense of what your cat is feeling. You may even learn to "talk" to them without ever saying a word.


This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Have you ever noticed that cats communicate with each other or their humans?

#Science #animals #Quora

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What are your thoughts on this subject?
24 Comments
Don Curtis Latimer
We had a neighborhood cat named Stretch. He liked only men and would visit me when I came home from work and would wait for me to come outside in the mornings. He would stretch and roll over on command. Everybody absolutely loved Stretch. He stayed under my oak trees and took his meals next door at his "owner's" house. The whole time I was getting radiation treatments for cancer he stayed close to me. I figure he was one of God's angels.
11
Mar 1, 2019 4:37PM
Doreen McCaugherty
After many years with cats I learned to watch, hear and learn. They are not stand offish as some people think. Love always makes a difference. Works with people as well.
5
Aug 8, 2018 4:41PM
rodb
we have always has Siamese cats. We took our cat to a cattery in Switzerland and the lady told us she was putting ours into a room with another Siamese. She told us that other cats don't always understand Siamese, so she was putting them in the room alone. The cattery was interesting because there were large rooms that had up to 20 cats each. Never any fighting because the space was not owned by any one cat.
1
Sep 21, 2020 9:10PM
Carol Butler
Many cats have sjared my life. The latest is, Darling. She showed up on my porch some weeks ago. After nursing her through her kittenhood and surgery and vacinations, we have settled down to study each other. Comunication is a very big part of that......just like any other relationship.
1
Nov 24, 2019 2:35AM
bipolarintrovert
Stillchipandbarb Cartie, a lot of people do, and by the way, it's they're, not their
0
Sep 19, 2019 4:13PM
Anne Roberts
We have always had two cats and they work hard keeping the vermin under control. However they love to cuddle up to you when they are indoors but they are always out at night I think cats are good communicators especially their body language and eye contact . When you consider how profoundly deaf people have created amazing British Sign Languge and now are able to communicate at top academics
1
Jul 15, 2019 5:28PM
Judy Moran
Shawn Kelly, Look at mine. This is Charley, and he has 8 siblings, all rescues. One big happy family.
0
Jun 8, 2019 7:51AM
Stillchipandbarb Cartie
Who cares their cats
6
Jun 4, 2019 4:20PM
wyodinosaur
Sometimes I think that humans, to cats, are just cat-rubbing machines.
0
Jun 2, 2019 4:36PM
scottlarock
Thomas Cole, cats pick you...
2
Apr 10, 2019 8:43AM
scottlarock
orange colored cats love to fight...cats are a strange lot...50 years ago, i knew nothing of cats...now...I am surrounded by the beasts...I have fresh clowder of kittens in the back...anyone need a kitten?...
3
Apr 10, 2019 8:41AM
Thomas Cole
Never had a cat, never will.
6
Dec 10, 2018 7:34PM
Rae Ann Randall
I've seen all of these behaviors and knew exactly what they meant. My cat has never spat or hissed at any one person or thing. Just hids under the bed. Fraidy cat that she is!😄
1
Aug 11, 2018 1:28AM
Sandra Mcnamara
My cat gives me lots of cuddles ,she knows when I’m upset or not well
4
Aug 10, 2018 11:24PM
jackyrabb
Interesting very informative.
1
Aug 10, 2018 12:23AM
Linda Spreng
Cats RULE!!! My cat pets me when I'm down; plays goofball when I'm sad. Won't sit on my lap, but lays on my pant-leg to nap ... has to know where I am at all times. Plus, she made me sign over the house to her years ago. AND ... Melanie, I agree with Carol. My cat came to me declawed on all four paws. She NEVER goes outside except on a lead.
1
Aug 9, 2018 6:11PM

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