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Do cats understand words???

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hello, I have noticed that some of our cats seem to understand some words. If there are birds at the bird feeder just outside our bedroom window and the cats have not noticed I will say "birdies" and most of the time Cozmo and Angel will come running to the window. Cozmo sometimes knows "treats" but sometimes he thinks I mean "birdies" and will look out the window a little confused, not like if I say birdies.

Rusty on the other hand responds if I say "hungries" but not to the word treats. I am sure he learned the word from me when he was a little baby, when we had to feed Rusty and his brothers and sister when they were tiny they would cry when they got hungry and I would ask them if they were "hungries" when I started to feed them there formula.

When Tuffy was still alive he learned that when I said "go for a ride?" he knew most of the time he was going to the vet to see all his other friends that took such good care of him. All or other animals hate going to the vet which is understandable, but Tuffy loved it, he was there so many times it was like a second home to him, and most of the people who work there loved to see Tuffy as much as Tuffy loved to see them.

Is this fairly normal for cats to learn what some words mean?
post #2 of 18
I don't know if they understand words but I think its more of the tone of your voice when you say certain things. For Karma she knows a few things.

We normally call her Monkey now, the only time she hears the name Karma is when she is in serious trouble or danger. Every time I need to just disapline her for small things like getting overly excited during play time I just say "Monkey, No" but other times like this morning she desided that the fan looked like something cool for her to play with. The second I saw her going for it(we have an old school metal one, it could kill her) I said "Karma Stop". The second I did she frose and looked at me. She also knows the word ring, for her favorite toys, the rings off milk jugs. It has gotton to the point where we have to spell it when a new one comes into the house or she will spend all night looking for it. She knows the words wet food, turkey, chicken, beef and fish. If I say fish she runs away, she hates fish but with any of the others she comes running.

I could go on and on with the words she reconizes. I have though payed attention to how I say each word. Some times I will substitute a different word but say it in the same tone as something she knows and I still get the same reaction. I really think tone has more to do with it than the word itself. Does that make sence?
post #3 of 18
I think they might understand a bit more than just tone - after all, how do they all know when I'm calling one of them, and the right one responds? They don't 'understand' the word as we do, but maybe distinguish the form of syllables as familiar sound lumps that sound more like, e.g. 'Baay...Bee' vs 'BeRRd' or 'SsslEEEp'. Anyone else think so?
post #4 of 18
A lot of it is tone, I htink, but mine definitely know 'no', 'down'; and 'out', and the difference between them. They also know their own names and 'come on' which means food or treats. Dushka and Wellington know 'bedtime'. I also wonder if they understand 'vet' as they seem to hide when I say it!
post #5 of 18
It's definitely words. My cats understand the word "treats" regardless of the tone of voice, facial expression, body posture, or context. I can be laying on the couch reading a magazine and if I say that word, three sets of ears prick up.
post #6 of 18
Riley understands when I say "are you hungry?" he runs to the kitchen

The other one he understands is "mousie". He has a little furry mousie that is his favorite toy and he carries it everywhere. If I tell him to "get your mousie" or "where's your mousie" he goes looking for it and carrying it back
post #7 of 18
The girls know the word "dinner", and Jacks quickly learning because he watches them meow when i get the tin out and copies them.

He's getting to know the word "sweeties" as well because Rosie goes crackers when i say it and he sticks my her side
post #8 of 18
I don't think it's so much that they understand the words as they assocate that sound your making with a particular event. Like "treats" means they're getting a snack" and "din-din" means they're getting dinner. They can also learn to assocate their name with good things, like a petting session, a walk or just having your company. They see it as the word you use when you want to ge their attention I guess haha. Though mine ignores me anyway.
post #9 of 18
I have trained mine to listen to here kitty kitty kitty (I know, how original) before I feed her treats or meals. To her this means, I am feeding you now.
Thankfully, she is food motivated and it has come in handy several times now when she goes places she should not be, I say here kitty kitty kitty in that voice like I am going to feed her and she runs to me right away (demanding to be fed of course). She does listen to what we say and I think she does understand some of what we mean/say.
post #10 of 18
I think Princess understands: Her name, nana, rope, no, come here, etc.
(that doesn't mean that me saying "come here" actually makes her want to do it, just that she knows what I'd like her to do lol)

One day DH and I were sitting on the couch talking about her cat tree and he said that he hasn't seen her lie in the box part much lately and I said yeah she's been sleeping on the top shelf... at that moment, she casually walks over to her cat tree, jumps onto it and goes into the box and lays down. We both sat there for a minute amazed
post #11 of 18
Originally Posted by ThePatches View Post
I don't think it's so much that they understand the words as they assocate that sound your making with a particular event.
But that's what language is....a certain sound or combination of sounds is associated with something: a thing, a concept, an event. Communication is a common understanding of what the sounds represent. If I made this combination of sounds: "nubbishbubble" every time I brought out the treats, then for the cats, nubbishbubble would represent treats. What difference does it make if it's "treats" or "nubbishbubble" so long as understanding is communicated? And how do we know when understanding is communicated? When the appropriate behavior results. And so when I say the word "treats" and I see my cats respond with the appropriate behavior, then I know that understanding has been communicated. i.e. they know the word "treats"
post #12 of 18
Let me see, Diego doesn't understand anything, he's a dopey wee bugger
Neko though, I can hold a small conversation with him, "how was your day?" "meow" "did you bring me any prezzies?" "meow" "wow, how many lizards is that today?" "meow" and so on
He understands "oi" and "what are you doing?" "don't even think about it" and "pissst"

OMG as I read this, I realise I have no life
post #13 of 18
Let's see.

Patrick understands "cheese" because when I ask him if he wants a little bit of cheese, he goes to the

Buddy understands "come here" most of the time as well as "no".

Pete doesn't understand much of anything, poor boy.

Spock understands her name as well as the word "mama." I call her that sometimes b/c of her new mommy status.

Andy understands his name, maybe. He's a kitten, so I cut him some slack.

Most of them understand their name, but only when there's something beneficial for them (like food or an indoor visit).
post #14 of 18
luxor ignores everything.
stoli knows his name, come here, jump up, food, treats, no, bring it to me, fetch

but that's to say he only does them when he wants to.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
The vets office would give Cozmo a bug looking toy when he was there, He had 3 or 4 of them at one time, but then we got Willy, Yvonne's little dog who chewed up all of Cozmo's bugs for some reason, Anyway before Willy came along I would ask Cozmo "where is your bug" and he would try to find one of them. I feel bad because those bugs were his favorite toys. The first time Cozmo was at the vet they held the big box of cat toys up to him and he picked the bug looking thing himself. I need to stop in and see if they have any more of the "bug" toys so I can get him a couple more of them.

Willy only chewed up Cozmo's bugs, he has not chewed up any of the other cat toys.

Sorry for wandering a little off topic here.

post #16 of 18
Zoey knows "wait." Best word ever. She starts talking to me so I will get up in the morning and feed her - "wait" quiets her down until I am ready to get up. At bedtime, it also means I am still getting comfortable and you need to give me a minute to settle.

She also knows "crate." When we leave the house, we put our dogs in their room (it holds their crates). "Crate" tells the dogs to go to their room - Zoey is the first one to respond.

She isn't food motivated.
post #17 of 18
Pumpkin definitely knows "come here." If he's walking in front of me or out of the room that I'm in and I say "come here" MOST OF THE TIME he stops dead in his tracks and turns around and looks at me to see what I want. Or if I want him to see something I'll say come here and he usually comes to see what it is, although he often looks very wary like he thinks I'm gonna grab him and do something terrible to him, so I try to reserve it for when I want to show him something fun. He kinda knows treat, but since he's not very food motivated, he doesn't react to this all the time.

Bud used to know "din din", and they all know their names.

Now, on the other hand, Pumpkin has taught me his language very well, like the sound he makes for "rub me under my chin" - sort of a short, demanding but loving "ack" sound or the sound he makes when he's looking for me which I can't even begin to type or his high pitched meow with an inflection at the end when he's asking a question. I wonder if says to his cat friends, "I wonder does she understand meows?"
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Panther and Missy "talk" to me when they want something, I just have to figure out what they are saying so it works both ways I guess.

I am sure they all have me trained much better than I have them trained.
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