Why Researchers Are Studying the Cat’s Meow
Cat owners aren’t the only ones who want to know how to communicate with their pets better. Researchers are also interested in learning more about the feline “meow” and what it actually means. Below is a bit of information on what experts are hoping to find out through a new study on feline communication.
The Ultimate Question: How Do Cats Communicate with Humans?
Experts like Susanne Schötz, who is a researcher at Lund University, have noticed that adult cats primarily use their meows to communicate with humans, rather than to talk to other kitties. So they want to find out more about how felines get their messages across verbally, particularly when interacting with their human families. For example, does your cat’s mood affect his vocalizations, or does your cat change the way he meows in order to convey a sense of urgency to you?
On top of that, there is the interesting question of whether or not cats from different parts of the world, or even just different regions in a country, will sound unique from one another. And there is also the question of whether cats prefer when you use baby talk or when you talk to them normally. Schötz is planning on getting the answers to all of these questions through a study that will dive deeply into feline communication.
How Do You Talk to Your Kitty?
When you talk to your cat, does your speech have a sing-song quality? Would you say that your pitch goes higher than normal? And do you tend to talk to your pet as you would speak to a small child? Then you aren’t alone. But researchers are curious about whether cats respond more to certain types of human speech. In other words, are you talking to your cat in the right manner or are you making it easy for your pet to ignore you?
Related: Why Do Cats Meow at Night?
Schötz plans on recording kitties and their owners from two regions in Sweden in order to not only analyze various melodies within feline vocalizations, but also to determine how kitties typically respond to diverse forms of human speech. She even wants to find out if a person’s dialect will affect the way their kitty speaks.
The Goal of These Studies
The purpose of this new research, which will take five years to complete, is to figure out if certain feline breeds use specific melodies when they communicate, and if cats in general use certain melodies to convey particular messages to their humans, such as messages of hunger. For example, does your cat sound different when he’s just asking for a treat versus when he’s really hungry? In the end, the experts want to see if they can translate what kitties are saying when they meow, but they also want to figure out the best ways that humans could talk to their cats.
Imagine being able to understand your cat’s vocalizations better, and to be able to communicate more effectively with your kitty so that he can understand you better. That’s exactly what researchers are working on finding out, and we’re looking forward to reading the results of this study once they’re published.
Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. An advocate for better treatment of all animals, she enjoys producing content that educates others, helps them understand animals better, and inspires them to help, whether that means volunteering at a shelter, fostering strays, or simply giving their own pets a safe and happy home to live in.
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