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Catdictionary -- Learning Cat Language

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
We need a catdictionary. That is - communication that the cat teaches us. Mine know several things I say to them, but I only know about two of their "words", or "sign language".

The meows are hard to define, other than things like "I'm hungry" - and then there are several sounds that are definate sounds that let us know it's time to eat.

I've picked up two things, one - a ca-ca-ca sound, - when a bird comes near the window - I learned this from a cat that was my daughter's.
When KiKi arrived, we bird watched together, and when a bird arrived on the bush, I'd mimic him, and he knew what I was telling him. So, whenever I'm at the window by myself and a bird arrives, I start making that sound and KiKi runs to see the bird too. The kittens are just looking at me trying to figure out what I'm doing.

The second thing I learned was using my hand in the "stop" position. I learned this from Phoebe. When the kittens were about 8 weeks, I happen to feed Phoebe first, and Simon tried to "share". Well, this time she wanted the food all for herself, and Simon got the message when she just held up her front paw - as if to push him away. He knew what she meant, so I figured if I did the same when necessary, they, too, would know what I meant.

It works. Sometimes KiKi gets a little too rough with one of the kittens. I go over to them, get KiKi's attention and hold up my hand as if to push him off, and he backs up - off of the kitten. It has worked on every other occassion that I've used it.

I find these things interesting, and I bet others have plenty things they do/say that "communicates" in cat language - do you have something that you might be able to add to the catdictionary?
post #2 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by GloriaJH View Post
We need a catdictionary. That is - communication that the cat teaches us. Mine know several things I say to them, but I only know about two of their "words", or "sign language".

The meows are hard to define, other than things like "I'm hungry" - and then there are several sounds that are definate sounds that let us know it's time to eat.

I've picked up two things, one - a ca-ca-ca sound, - when a bird comes near the window - I learned this from a cat that was my daughter's.
When KiKi arrived, we bird watched together, and when a bird arrived on the bush, I'd mimic him, and he knew what I was telling him. So, whenever I'm at the window by myself and a bird arrives, I start making that sound and KiKi runs to see the bird too. The kittens are just looking at me trying to figure out what I'm doing.

The second thing I learned was using my hand in the "stop" position. I learned this from Phoebe. When the kittens were about 8 weeks, I happen to feed Phoebe first, and Simon tried to "share". Well, this time she wanted the food all for herself, and Simon got the message when she just held up her front paw - as if to push him away. He knew what she meant, so I figured if I did the same when necessary, they, too, would know what I meant.

It works. Sometimes KiKi gets a little too rough with one of the kittens. I go over to them, get KiKi's attention and hold up my hand as if to push him off, and he backs up - off of the kitten. It has worked on every other occassion that I've used it.

I find these things interesting, and I bet others have plenty things they do/say that "communicates" in cat language - do you have something that you might be able to add to the catdictionary?
Let's add: MEOW, SILENT MEOW, PURR, CHATTER, CHIRPS, HISS, SPIT, GROWL, AND YOWL. All of these are described in detail in the books I have so I will just start with MEOW, the most obvious, and let other's join in on your quest to build all of us a dictionary. Meow has a variety of meanings; the pitch helps you with all the different definitions. Experts say that the more disturbed the kitten is, the lower the pitch of the meow. A higher pitched meow says, "I am glad you are home." Your cat can also convey urgency; "Feed me, now!" Slightly different sounds and emphasis convey a request or a complaint. Oh by the way, the last one, YOWL, means it is time to get your little girl fixed; she is in heat.
post #3 of 27
I am here learning so I cannot add anything to help, just make additional requests.
What would help me out a lot is understand the noises they make when they are sick, too. Like sneezing, coughing etc.
post #4 of 27
i tap mine on the nose for "no". i read in some cat book that mama cats do that to their kittens. it's worked for me, too!
post #5 of 27
I have found that my kitten has 2 different happy purrs - the usual contented one, and a deeper one when I give him something to eat that he really likes, I think of that as his 'THANK YOU!!!' purr
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
KiKi - his first growl was when a person (I think it was the first time he saw our pool guy) came into the yard.

KiKi has a very low growl - now I know it's a warning of something, and I go look to see what the problem is. This kind of thing has happend offen enough for me to have gotten his "message" of warning me. I think that protective-like growl is what reminds me of a dog-like attribute.

Today he heard some unknown noise in the kitchen - we (Phoebe & KiKi and me) were in the bedroom - he got up and started toward the noise and growled. Very interesting. I guess I have a "watch-cat" instead of a "watch-dog".

KiKi and the kittens stayed at a distance while I went to see what it was, and once I told them it was "Okay", they came in the kitchen. (a hand vac had fallen over).
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
Teach on Persi - the meows are the hardest for me - wow, there's so many!
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2dogmom View Post
I am here learning so I cannot add anything to help, just make additional requests.
What would help me out a lot is understand the noises they make when they are sick, too. Like sneezing, coughing etc.
I can't help here, but I know someone will be able to add these important "words" to our Catdictionary.

The only thing I could add is when KiKi was sick - I think from a spider he ate??) he was very quiet - which was in contrast to his "usual" talkative communication.
post #9 of 27
Kittens:
  • Mew (high pitched and thin) - a polite plea for help - could be "feed me", "play with me", "comfort me", "I have an itch", etc.
  • MEW! (loud and frantic) - an urgent plea for help - "I'm stuck!" or "It hurts!"

Adult cats:
  • mew - plea for attention - "Can I go outside?" "Are you going to pick me up?"
  • mew (soundless) - a very polite plea for attention (this is Paul Gallico's "Silent Miaow" which is probably a sound pitched too high for human ears)
  • meow - emphatic plea for attention - "I need to go outside, I have a date!"
  • MEOW! - a command! - "Let me in, there's a dog!"
  • mee-o-ow (with falling cadence) - protest or whine - "Can I go out NOW?"
  • MEE-o-ow (shrill whine) - stronger protest "Quit it, that hurts!"
  • MYUP! (short, sharp, single note) - righteous indignation - "Let me down."
  • MEOW! Meow! (repeated) - panicky call for help - "I'm trapped in a room and I'm hungry!"
  • mier-r-r-ow (chirrup with liting cadence) - friendly greeting - "Hey, I missed you! How was work?"

Tomcats:
  • RR-YOWWW-EEOW-RR-YOW-OR - caterwaul
  • merrow - challenge to another male
  • meriow - courting call to female
Mother cats:
  • MEE-OW - come and get it!
  • meOW - follow me!
  • ME R-R-R-ROW - take cover!
  • mer ROW! - No! or Stop It!
  • mreeeep (burbled) - hello greeting to kittens and disarming greeting to adult cats (also used between adult cats and humans)
post #10 of 27
Napoleon has a special meow that sounds just like 'no' when he does not want to do something that he knows I want. Like yesterday he was the last one out and I called him. He came as far as the fence and showed me he was playing with something, then gave this definite meow which meant 'no. i am having fun and I will not come in yet'. Every time I called his name I got the same answer! He finally got tired and hungry and showed up an hour later.
post #11 of 27
My Maggie has a meow that sounds for all the world like she's saying, Maa Maa. Of coarse I always respond, Yes dear, so this has reinforced this sound. It usually means she wants something food or attention.
post #12 of 27
Gizmo says "MEH" when she's not pleased with something. If I'm away for a day or so, she'll greet me with this short exclamation.

Gizmo also talks in kitty 'sentences,' but I can't possibly write down how she does it. She'd have to be videotaped.
post #13 of 27
so is there a cat book on different sounds..if so id like the name plz..wouldnt it be great to talk cat to our furry friends..ive got the food one of to a t and the let me out one..
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by animal View Post
so is there a cat book on different sounds..if so id like the name plz..wouldnt it be great to talk cat to our furry friends..ive got the food one of to a t and the let me out one..
Persi, you spoke of "books", would you be able to provide us titles?
post #15 of 27
The other night, Ginger woke me up at about 5 a.m. with a very loud: "Meow-yow-yow-yow-YOW" that she kept repeating. I ignored her, as I usually do when I'm trying to stay sleeping, and later that morning, I walked around to the side of my bed where she'd been "talking" and found her favorite catnip toy lying there.

She talks to her toys, especially in the wee hours.

I wish I knew what she was being so emphatic about!
post #16 of 27
Yesterday when I was preparing dinner for the boys (I have 3 now...another stray added)...Miles (BF) was commenting on how only two of ours (Rocky and Jack..the new guy) are so loud and Lovey doesn't say a word (he is the biggest and the babiest)...

All of a sudden, Lovey lets out his only sound...a little mew chirp as if to say...Hey I can talk too!! It's the only sound he makes and I love it..
(I can't decide if its a kitten mew or a mreep greeting)

I love this thread and would like to know if there is a book on cat vocals too...

I also like the "sign language" cats use...like head bumps or face pats.
This is so unique to every cat with intensity, presence or reasons why...

IE, Rocky is a FIERCE head butter while Lovey prefers the delicate pat-pat and silent mew or mreep to get me to pet him. It's so darling!
post #17 of 27
in additionto all the words described already, Abi has a little "here I am " sound she makes when she jumps up on me ready for a snuggle. it's almost an involuntary mew as she lands. Then she starts making biscuits and purring bigtime. Also then there is the "help me" I cant find the fly sound when she wants me to bat a moth or fly from high up to a place where she can catch it on her own. she usually prefers to hunt alone but if frustrated will come to me with a very soft pathetic meow which means "I need hunting help. "

I have only heard her growl once, at the vet, and she hasn't hissed ever that I have heard.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abigail View Post

I have only heard her growl once, at the vet, and she hasn't hissed ever that I have heard.
Growling is so scary to me! Jack does it low, loud and long when he feels cornered by Rocky and it just freaks me out so much that I end up stepping in and re-directing them asap.
post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loveysmummy View Post
Growling is so scary to me! Jack does it low, loud and long when he feels cornered by Rocky and it just freaks me out so much that I end up stepping in and re-directing them asap.
Getting to know the signals from each "personality" comes with time. I've learned Phoebe play growls and hisses.

At first when KiKi had Phoebe "pinned", she was both hissing and growling, so, like you, I thought this was a place where I needed to intervene.

But, one time, (I shared this earlier, I think) she was pinned, and growling & hissing - KiKi wasn't giving up - even after me pulling him off several times. So, I actually picked her up to "save her", that's when she protested to me and slapped at ME :-), I re=thunk my "take" on all her growling and hissing.

(Boy, I got that message loud and clear - "leave us alone, I'm having fun!" )

I actually think, now, that she's just like a child who screams while she is playing (which can drive you crazy, too) ... - so, now - I just observe, and let them at it.

But it is really scary!

These "vocals" at play are just part of her personality it seems.

But, when KiKi growls, I know this warning means business, and usually it's something I'd better go check out. (He has never growled at the babies, but he makes noises like he's being hurt, and talks to them as he's playing and they're biting at his head.

KiKi purr talks a lot, and I'm beginning to kinda know the different communications - he mostly purr talks just when he's going to do something, or greet me - like before jumping into the bed with me.

I'm hoping he's teaching the babies to purr-talk too, it's so sweet it melts my heart.
post #20 of 27
Smeagol talks so often that I couldn't tell ya what each one meant. Its funny, when he was younger, if he was getting into something or up somewhere where he shouldnt be (near the bird, or behind electronics with cords, etc) he would tell on himself by meowing really loudly. lol

One thing I have noticed that no one has mentioned here, is my Trixters "I'm gonna be sick" meow. If he is sick to his tummy (he used to throw up often when he was eating dry food) he will say "yaloddle-loddle-loddle" and then throw up. Its so sad, but it was the same every time, so we knew what was about to happen. Its amazing the different types of sounds they use to communicate, isn't it?

Smeagol will play hiss, too. When he was a baby he couldn't hiss yet, so he would attack a toy and say "Keh!" He still does that once in a while, too.

Trixter is very demanding when he is hungry. While I am preparing his meal, he will "yell" at me. The meow will be very drawn out, somewhat deep in tone, and very demanding sounding, "Meroooooow!!!" it sounds like NOWWW!!lol

Also, when Trixter is going to the vets, he cries the whole way with long, drawn out crying meows. Those words break my heart!
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by GingersMom View Post
The other night, Ginger woke me up at about 5 a.m. with a very loud: "Meow-yow-yow-yow-YOW" that she kept repeating. I ignored her, as I usually do when I'm trying to stay sleeping, and later that morning, I walked around to the side of my bed where she'd been "talking" and found her favorite catnip toy lying there.

She talks to her toys, especially in the wee hours.

I wish I knew what she was being so emphatic about!
My FI's cat at home does this, but she actually does it b/c she's too old to hunt but one of their other cats will occasionally catch a chipmunk or something and present it to the family. The other cat does this type of cry when she "hunts" a pair of socks or a small stuffed animal and wants to present it to the family! This might be what your cat is doing.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrixtersMomma View Post
One thing I have noticed that no one has mentioned here, is my Trixters "I'm gonna be sick" meow. If he is sick to his tummy (he used to throw up often when he was eating dry food) he will say "yaloddle-loddle-loddle" and then throw up. Its so sad, but it was the same every time, so we knew what was about to happen. Its amazing the different types of sounds they use to communicate, isn't it?

Also, when Trixter is going to the vets, he cries the whole way with long, drawn out crying meows. Those words break my heart!
Trixter sounds like my Pixel - she does both of these, too. she doesn't throw up often, but i hear about it beforehand!
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrodger View Post
The other cat does this type of cry when she "hunts" a pair of socks or a small stuffed animal and wants to present it to the family! This might be what your cat is doing.
Pixel also does something like this. she brings her 'ball' to me, meowing VERY loudly all the while. i usually interpret it as wanting me to throw the 'ball' so she can chase it, but sometimes she just seems to want recognition
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrodger View Post
My FI's cat at home does this, but she actually does it b/c she's too old to hunt but one of their other cats will occasionally catch a chipmunk or something and present it to the family. The other cat does this type of cry when she "hunts" a pair of socks or a small stuffed animal and wants to present it to the family! This might be what your cat is doing.
The thing is, Ginger will ONLY make this meow in the wee hours of the night. It is always associated with either a specific catnip toy or with her "baby kitty," the orange tabby Ty Beanie Baby that so many of the TCS kitties seem to have.

I used to assume that she was "yelling" at her baby kitty because it wouldn't play back. Now that we have a REAL baby kitty for her (Ferris, of course) she no longer seems to ever play with her old baby kitty, and instead has turned her night talk to the catnip toy. It is a fuzzy, tiger-striped stuffed rectangle, and she LOVES it.

I recently bought another one for Ferris to play with, and she immediately took it away from him and won't let him play with it.

It isn't that she brings these toys to ME, but she does bring them into my bedroom before putting them down and going into her "Yow-yow-YOW" meow. Then she leaves them there, and off she goes.

Gotta love the furkids!
post #24 of 27
Rambo has a language all his own....and i can't figure it out. It doesn't seem to fit with any of the sounds in the dictionary. When he was little he never made a sound, and then suddenly he found his vocal cords but he doesn't sound anything like a cat. He does have one cry that sounds exactly like a little kid yelling 'MMMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" Really throws off any of my guests that hear it. And when i answer "yes dear...?" he come running over for scritches.
post #25 of 27
When I fostered I had a kitten who would not wean and would instead attack you in a feeble attempt to get you to give her a bottle and I found that a really good, angry "MMMRRRrrrooowww" would get her to cut it out. Seems effective for kittens that play too rough too.
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by GloriaJH View Post
Getting to know the signals from each "personality" comes with time. I've learned Phoebe play growls and hisses.

At first when KiKi had Phoebe "pinned", she was both hissing and growling, so, like you, I thought this was a place where I needed to intervene.

But, one time, (I shared this earlier, I think) she was pinned, and growling & hissing - KiKi wasn't giving up - even after me pulling him off several times. So, I actually picked her up to "save her", that's when she protested to me and slapped at ME :-), I re=thunk my "take" on all her growling and hissing.

(Boy, I got that message loud and clear - "leave us alone, I'm having fun!" )

I actually think, now, that she's just like a child who screams while she is playing (which can drive you crazy, too) ... - so, now - I just observe, and let them at it.

But it is really scary!

These "vocals" at play are just part of her personality it seems.

But, when KiKi growls, I know this warning means business, and usually it's something I'd better go check out. (He has never growled at the babies, but he makes noises like he's being hurt, and talks to them as he's playing and they're biting at his head.

KiKi purr talks a lot, and I'm beginning to kinda know the different communications - he mostly purr talks just when he's going to do something, or greet me - like before jumping into the bed with me.

I'm hoping he's teaching the babies to purr-talk too, it's so sweet it melts my heart.

Your Phoebe reminds me of my Lovey if she was a grey boy...Just the expression in her face.



Jack is new to the house and is trying to stay out of Rocky's way and for the most part, they get along...except when Jack is walking by Rocky's line of vision a little too quickly... or if I bend down to give Jack attention and Rocky forgets that Jack lives here too now....
But its just a pure warning growl as Rocky is always the initiator...The funny thing is that, with humans, Rocky is the dumb as rocks goofy cat who just loves up on you...

Babies in the house...You are so lucky...

It's just so fun to try and figure out your individual cat's personalities...
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GloriaJH View Post
We need a catdictionary. That is - communication that the cat teaches us. Mine know several things I say to them, but I only know about two of their "words", or "sign language".

The meows are hard to define, other than things like "I'm hungry" - and then there are several sounds that are definite sounds that let us know it's time to eat.

I've picked up two things, one - a ca-ca-ca sound, - when a bird comes near the window - I learned this from a cat that was my daughter's.
When KiKi arrived, we bird watched together, and when a bird arrived on the bush, I'd mimic him, and he knew what I was telling him. So, whenever I'm at the window by myself and a bird arrives, I start making that sound and KiKi runs to see the bird too. The kittens are just looking at me trying to figure out what I'm doing.

The second thing I learned was using my hand in the "stop" position. I learned this from Phoebe. When the kittens were about 8 weeks, I happen to feed Phoebe first, and Simon tried to "share". Well, this time she wanted the food all for herself, and Simon got the message when she just held up her front paw - as if to push him away. He knew what she meant, so I figured if I did the same when necessary, they, too, would know what I meant.

It works. Sometimes KiKi gets a little too rough with one of the kittens. I go over to them, get KiKi's attention and hold up my hand as if to push him off, and he backs up - off of the kitten. It has worked on every other occassion that I've used it.

I find these things interesting, and I bet others have plenty things they do/say that "communicates" in cat language - do you have something that you might be able to add to the catdictionary?
The two kittens are now 21 months old, and no matter where they are in the house, if they hear me "ca ca ca-ing", they come running to see the bird (or anything else of interest - like a cricket) that I'm alerting them to come and see.

If I were younger I wouldn't have the time to be able to observe these precious Furbabies as much as I do - and, the more I observe, the more amazed I am - three cats, and all three have totally different personalities. Now that my children are grown with their own families and live in other states, it wonderful to have the cats to keep us entertained.

Simon has learned to pat me on the shoulder (when I'm sitting at my computer) to get my attention - for me to follow him - showing me the place where I get their food. If I'm in the kitchen, cooking, or whatever, he gives me "head butts" to alert me he's hungry.

I'm still learning other ways they are trying to communicate their needs, the way they use their body language to communicate.

They seemed to have learned the words "no", and "hot" - and I'm in the process of teaching some of my other words - they are smart creatures that don't seem to get frustrated when I'm not pickin' up what they're puttin' down. :-)
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