Do Cats Understand English? Decoding Feline Language Mysteries

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Are you a cat owner wondering whether your feline friend understands you when you talk to them in English? While it’s evident that cats may not be able to carry out entire conversations with their owners, there’s still a possibility that they understand certain English words and phrases.

In this blog post, we will delve into the fascinating feline world to discover how much English cats comprehend, their primary communication methods, and how you can enhance your communication skills with your kitty companion.


Can cats understand English?


As a cat expert, I can definitively say that cats understand English.

While they may not be able to respond in the same language, felines are skilled at picking up on the tones and values of human words.

They are especially aware of their name and commands, making it clear that they comprehend what is being said.

Ultimately, cats understand more than we often give them credit for! An attentive owner can pick up on clues from their precious pet through various behavior patterns and preferences, demonstrating how well cats communicate with us in human language.


1) How do cats communicate? Understanding feline language


Cats are known to be highly social animals, but they don’t primarily rely on verbal communication to get their message across. Instead, they use various methods such as body language, vocalization, and scent marking.

Among these, body language is the most prominent form of communication, encompassing ear positioning, tail movement, facial expressions, and overall posture.

Vocalization is another essential element in a cat’s communication arsenal, as they use different sounds, including meows, purrs, growls, and chattering, to express a wide range of emotions and desires.

While less discernible to humans, scent marking is crucial for cat territorial communication.


2) The connection between cats and human language


Cats may not speak human languages, but they can undoubtedly recognize the sound of their owner’s voice.

Over time and with consistent interaction, cats associate specific words, phrases, or tones of voice with certain actions or emotions.

For example, they might understand that “treat” refers to their favorite snack or recognize the phrase “come here” as an invitation for affection.

However, understanding English for cats goes beyond just picking up keywords.

The tone and pitch of your voice also play a significant role in how effectively you communicate with your cat.

Studies have shown that cats are more responsive to high-pitched voices, so speaking to your cat in a slightly higher pitch might result in better engagement.


3) Training cats to respond to commands


Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained to understand and respond to commands like dogs. However, cat training generally requires more patience and persistence.

With positive reinforcement techniques, such as offering treats, praise, or pets when they follow a command, you can train your cat to respond to simple cues like “sit,” “stay,” or even “high five.”

It’s important to remember that cats, like humans, have unique personalities and may have better experiences with specific training methods. So, it’s crucial to remain patient, gentle, and consistent in your approach.


4) Tips to improve communication with your cat


To better understand and communicate with your cat, here are some tips to consider:

Please pay close attention to their body language and interpret their signaling.

Use simple, consistent verbal cues and pair them with a specific action or result, such as opening a door when you say “outside.

Speak to your cat in a higher pitch or tone, as feline ears are more attuned to such sounds.

Always use positive reinforcement techniques when training your cat

Be patient, gentle, and consistent when interacting with or training your cat


5) The role of breeds in language comprehension


It’s worth mentioning that some cat breeds may have a better affinity for understanding human language and following commands.

Breeds such as Siamese, Maine Coon, and Abyssinian, known for their intelligence and friendly nature, might be more capable of deciphering and reacting to English words or phrases than other breeds.


6)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 to 50 words, but as mentioned above, they may not pronounce them.

Note that your cat will not learn anything unless associated with a positive outcome. For instance, cats know their names and will come when called. Therefore, 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. Unfortunately, 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 introduce a toy to him, he is unsure what to do. Therefore, he will look at you and observe any hints before approaching the latter.

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. So avoid using his name and the word no in the same sentence. It could not be evident to your cat.


7) Can your cat respond to what you are saying?


As we mentioned above, cats do not 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 ignore you entirely, even as you talk to them.

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 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. The issue usually is that your cat may not care about what you want him to learn. It would be best if you associated the words you want him to know with a positive outcome for him.



While cats may not understand English as humans do, they can recognize and react to specific words, phrases, or tones. With patience, consistent interaction, and an understanding of feline communication methods, you can enhance your relationship with your cat and improve communication with them.

So next time you speak with your cute feline friend, remember that your beloved kitty may have a far better grasp of human language than you initially thought.



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