Do cats understand what we say to them? Well, this has been a question of discussion for quite some time. Even though there hasn’t been much research on whether cats understand our language, we cannot deny that they are sociable animals. We are going to look at how intelligent felines are and find out whether cats understand English.
Do cats hear what we are telling them?
Cats are quite intelligent. Come to think of it, cats use their body language to communicate. However, they do know how to communicate with us via vocalization. However, it is difficult to determine the level of intelligence especially the ability to learn new vocals.
Unlike dogs, cats lack the ability to produce the same sounds as we do. Therefore, we can say that cats are incapable of speaking any verbal language. It does not mean that your cat does not understand taught commands.
Cats are also a bit proud and selfish. They will learn the commands that benefit them. It is why we recommend rewarding your cat during training, at all times. If you stop rewarding him, he might forget the commands entirely other words such as food, eat, breakfast or even dinner. As you can see, I always have to do with a positive outcome or reward. It is all about them!
Do cats know their names?
Once you bring your cat home, you probably will choose a name for him. At first, he may not know his name but he will eventually get used to it. Scientifically, cats can learn up 50 words but as mentioned above, he may not pronounce them.
Note that your cat will not learn anything unless it is associated with a positive outcome. For instance, cats learn their names and will come when called. You must have something to give him in return. Present a treat or pet him whenever he obliges.
Your cat will also depend on social referencing to understand what you want from him. While cat owners talk to their cats, felines do not care about verbal communication. He will depend on you to make a move towards something. For instance, if you are introducing a toy to him, he is unsure of what to do. He will look at you and observe any hints before he approaches the latter.
Also, cats are able to recognize their owner’s voice. Your cat will respond to the owner’s voice, based on the tone. For instance, when you use a loud voice, he might interpret that as threatening. On the other hand, when you use a calm voice, he will follow through as it is friendly.
Cats also understand when we tell them no. He will, however, ignore you when you tell him no. Avoid using his name and the word no in the same sentence. It could be very confusing to your cat.
How to approach a cat
Approaching a cat for the first time is always a challenge. You will need to be careful enough not to scare him away. Always wait for him to come close to you once you bring him home. Note that your cat will also pay attention to your body language.
For instance, when you approach him with your palms open, he finds it threatening. Unlike our usual handshakes, your cat might think you are about to pounce at him. On the other hand, folded fists are more friendly and inviting.
Get down to his eye level when you are meeting him for the first time. Once you present your folded fists, your cat is likely to come to you. You can stretch your index finger and your cat will sniff it. As the saying goes, cats are very curious. He will try to figure your hands out before by sniffing them. Once he is sure that it is completely safe, he might rub against your finger.
It is a sure sign that you can pet him now. You may rub the back of his ears. He is now comfortable enough to allow you to pet him gently.
However, as easy as this might sound, cats have different personalities. Some are shy while others are outright timid and stubborn. You will need to spend some time with your new cat before you learn his personality.
Just as with humans, you just have to make a good first impression to attract your cat.
As we mentioned above, cats do not really care about verbal communication. It only works for them when they are demanding something from you. And he will meow at you then. While he will come to you when called, your cat may understand other things. It does not always mean that he is going to respond to you. Some cats will just ignore you completely even as you talk to him.
So do cats understand what we are telling them in English? The answer to this question depends on the situation. Some cats will understand a few words and may respond through their body language. For instance, when you call him for dinner, the word dinner might excite him. As a result, your cat might respond by putting his tail way up high.
However, a cat can only understand and remember a few words-up to 50 words. The issue usually is that your cat may not care about what you want him to learn. You must associate the words you want him to learn with a positive outcome for him.
Do cats care about their human owners?
Even though cats can be quite subtle, they do care and love us. They have so many ways of expressing their affection towards their owners. To teach cats to understand English or any other language, you must study his personality. It is the only way that you are going to learn how he responds to you and the time he is most receptive.
Below are some of the ways in which your cat may show his affection towards you;
Purring is one of your cat’s way of expressing affection towards you. It means that he is happy and contented. For instance, when you are petting or stroking him, your cat might start purring. It is his way of expressing gratitude and affection towards you. Pay attention to behind his ears and under his chin.
At the same time, it could be that your cat is in pain. If your cat has more purring sessions than usual, check to see if he is in pain.
When your cat starts licking you, he is trying to mix his scent with yours. It is a way to show affection to the people he trusts. He might actually groom everyone in the household to mark his community. Scent mixing is a bit of territorial behavior.
Slowly blinking at you
Almost every cat owner has seen their cat blinking slowly at them. It is called a cat kiss and he can only do so when he trusts you completely. Cats do not close their eyes when they feel unsafe. You can respond to a cat kiss by blinking back at him.
Exposing his belly
When your cat exposes his body towards you, it can be quite confusing to understand. It could be that he is playful or aggressive. The circumstances in which your cat rolls on his back to expose his belly will determine whether he is playful or not.
Also, if his claws are exposed, it means that he is aggressive. Do not play with him when he feels agitated. Instead, find out why he is throwing tantrums and eliminate the situation. On the other hand, if he seems comfortable and playful, it is his way of expressing his affection.
Cat rubbing cheeks
Your cat will also rub his cheeks against you or other members of the family. It is usually a friendly gesture and also territorial behavior. When he rubs his cheeks against you, his hormone glands produce pheromones, which is his scent. His purpose is to mix his scent with yours. It is also an invitation to socialize with you.
Some cats love bopping his head with yours, especially when you are asleep. Even though it is usually a territorial behavior, your cat will also do this to play with you. He wants to express his affection for you as well as let you know that he trusts you.
Generally spending time with you
As we mentioned earlier on, cats can be quite arrogant. I mean, you will call his name and he will choose whether to come to you or completely ignore you. When your cat comes to you and sits on your working desk or laps, he wants to hang out.
By hanging out with you, he is expressing his affection for you.
Can I teach cats to speak and understand English?
The answer to this question is yes. However, it is not going to be an easy task, especially to teach your cat to speak English. Their mouths and vocal cords are incapable of speaking any language for that matter. However, it is not uncommon to find a cat mimicking English words such as ‘hello.’
You can, however, teach him a few commands. For instance, he will eventually learn when dinner time comes. He is going to learn other words such as eat, sit, and no. However, as we mentioned earlier, you must reward your cat each time you use these commands. Failure to do so, he may not show any interest in learning whatever it is you are teaching him.
Also, cats tend to obey our commands especially when we use our hand gestures. They depend on social referencing, which is why you may notice your cat looking at you before he approaches an object or person. He wants to know how safe it is for him to approach the latter.
In conclusion, if you are wondering whether cats can understand English, the answer is yes. However, they are only capable of learning limited words, up to 50. Your cat will adopt the English words that only benefit him, and only if you constantly reward him. For instance, when you want to teach him how to sit, use rewards for when he gets it right.
Your cat may understand what you are telling him but he might also ignore you. This is especially when you are using the word no. The key to training cats to speak and understand English is learning what he cares about as he won’t be receptive to anything else.