Can Cats Understand English?

Can Cats Understand English

Cats are usually difficult to read, and they might feel the same way about humans too. People who keep cats as pets talk to them frequently and address them in the way they would talk to young children. Since cats have lived with humans for many years, it would be expected that they have picked up some human cues. However, anybody who has ever owned a feline knows they don’t always give the best response.

Can cats understand English? Technically, cats cannot understand English. They don’t possess the same psychological vocal structure as human beings. However, they have the ability to understand sound and familiarize themselves to it. Similar to dogs, giving the same command line repeatedly simultaneous to action helps cats recognize the language.

Cats don’t seem to be given as much credit as they duly deserve, because they are lumped in as simply “pets”. It’s a common perception that cats don’t have the ability to grasp vocal commands like dogs.

Can Cats Understand English?

Rewarding cats with treats after they’ve performed a commanded action successfully is one of the basics of communication between humans and felines. Assimilation of cats from sounds implies they can communicate in any known language if they are taught and assisted. The same applies to dogs; they can learn things just as fast and react to the commands and phrases they are given.

Simple commands or words like sit, stand, or stay are among the basics. While dogs don’t typically forget such phrases or commands, felines deliberately refuse to follow or forget them if they aren’t receiving rewards. Therefore, rewarding cats is essential during training. A little bribery helps in getting felines to understand English or other languages.

According to scientific research, cats can learn about 50 different commands and phrases, which is inclusive of their names. The words may seem very few, but it is all the cats ever need to gauge. Terms like “food”, “eat” and “no” are useful to them. On the other hand, learning something that doesn’t relate to their lives like “choo-choo” isn’t beneficial for the cat. The most obscure term cats learn is probably their name.

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Moreover, cats tend to come more when they’re called in meowing sounds than with word commands. That’s partly because it indicates the owner is attempting to communicate with them specifically. They’ll meow at the owner and he or she will try to meow back in the same way. And, eventually, the cat will simply learn to link the mimicked meow sounds with talking to the owner.

Were it not for the involvement of humans, cats would not have a reason to ever produce sounds. They are not animals that care much about oral language, but rather, they are more into body language and subtleties.

Oddly, cat meows are meant mainly for communicating with human beings, because they respond to them more often than mere body language. Many cat owners assume they are training their pets to react to them with meowing, but it’s actually the other way round. Domestic cats are aware that humans give them the best response when they meow. Therefore, they mimic the sound of a crying baby as best as possible to get a human’s attention. That’s fascinating and shows how intelligent, but manipulative cats can be.

Can Cats Understand Human Beings?

The relationship between cats and humans goes back in history to nearly 10,000 years ago. Until today, the creatures are still among the most loved household pets in the world. Moreover, the cat population has increased so much that there are about three cats for every single dog.

The way dogs, play, interact or respond to human beings is different from felines. Additionally, dogs can sense if their owners have any stress toward them, and may react by lowering their heads.

That’s a common habit among dogs when doing something the caretaker dislikes. That implies that dogs group human beings as a different and superior species.

On the contrary, cats don’t. They treat human beings as their fellow cats and don’t see them as superior creatures.

They play with humans in the same manner they play with members of their own species. That is a natural characteristic and behaviour of cats yet it doesn’t imply that they can’t be trained to match human preference.

It just requires training and understanding and showing love and care. Humans are a higher level species that possesses advanced capabilities, so the responsibility of understanding pets falls on them.

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Can Cats Recognize Their Names?

Cats have a notorious indifference to human beings. They readily ignore their owners when they call them. However, a certain study has shown that cats do recognize their names even if they opt to ignore them.

A behavioural scientist by the name of Atsuko Saito conducted a study on 78 domestic felines from Japanese houses and a cat café.

With the help of her colleagues, Saito first asked owners to repeatedly utter four terms that sounded similar to the names of their cats.

They said the words until the creatures got used to them and stopped reacting. Next, the caretakers said the actual names of the cats, and the scientists checked whether individual felines could distinguish their monikers.

They found that the cats displayed more pronounced reactions to their own names than to similar phrases or other feline names. The cats responded by meowing or making ear, head or tail movements.

The scientists also asked people who were strangers to the cats to utter the names. While the cat’s reactions were less pronounced than when their caretakers called them, it was clear that they could still recognize their names.

From the study, it seems that numerous cats respond to their names when called by their caretakers. Saito believes the cats in the study group probably linked their names to some reward or punishment.

Additionally, she feels it’s unlikely that the felines acknowledge that the sounds are connected to them as individuals.

John Bradshaw, a prominent anthrozoologist says that cats can learn as well as dogs, but they are not as keen to showcase what they have learned.

What Do Cats Think About Humans?

Since cats first entered human civilizations thousands of years ago, people have adored them. At least 80 million cats live in USA households, but there’s still plenty humans don’t know about the felines.

So, what do cats think about owners? After observing domestic felines for several years, John Bradshaw believes that cats don’t really understand humans the way dogs do. Of course, cats know human beings are larger than them.

However, they do not appear to have accustomed to their social habits much. Raising their tails, rubbing against human legs and resting beside and grooming them is precisely what cats do to one another.

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Cats behave towards humans in a manner that is indistinguishable from how they act toward each other. They do see humans as clumsy cats. Not many felines trip over humans, but people often trip over cats. However, they don’t appear to view humans as being stupid, because domestic felines do not rub against cats they consider inferior.

Can Humans Train Cats?

Training is usually part of the deal when it comes to owning a dog, but things are different for cats. Traditionally, humans do not train domestic felines because they see them as independent and free-willed creatures. However, many people do not realize they subconsciously train their beloved feline pets daily.

Cat training is usually used to decrease problematic habits in cats, to improve human-to-cat interaction and allow for comfortable coexistence. Some owners have successfully trained cats to utilize a kitty litter box by showing them its location and how to enter and leave.

Some of the training techniques people use to train cats include positive reinforcement and clicker training. Cats have an independent and self-interested nature, so it’s best to train them with positive reinforcement techniques.

In positive reinforcement training, a cat is trained with motivation, cooperation, patience and offered rewards for good behaviour.

Clicker training was initially utilized in training marine mammals, but it later spread into dog and cat training. The technique utilizes sound to signal to animals when they’ve done the right thing.

Trainers can use any object that produces a sound, like a whistle, beep, or pen that can click. During cat clicker training, the instructor clicks at the precise time the feline performs the desired action and rewards them with a treat.

The cat starts to associate the click with receiving a treat and acknowledges that it means he or she has behaved correctly.

In addition, a cat can be trained to perform tricks like ringing a doorbell or playing dead. The flexibility and bone structure of cats allow them to twist and bend themselves, jump from a fair distance, and land on their feet swiftly.

That talent can be transformed into tricks, such as jumping via hoops or scratching posts. It may also be possible to teach them how to respond to their names, sit, shake a paw or rollover. The key is to train them consistently and use positive reinforcement methods, rather than punishment.

Article by Barbara Read
Barbara read
Barbara Read is the heart and soul behind From her early love for cats to her current trio of feline companions, Barbara's experiences shape her site's tales and tips. While not a vet, her work with shelters offers a unique perspective on cat care and adoption.