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 . 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.
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