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Showing posts with label vocalisation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vocalisation. Show all posts

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Do they know we love them?

Dear George, 
Last week was Valentine’s Day and my humans gave a cozy candle-light dinner for me. We shared the food less the chocolate cake but that’s all right as I love better my healthy cat treats made with wheatgrass and catnip!
It is true thou that no matter how dummies our human pets are we still love them.
We know, for example, how much you love Celia. And that’s all right too. You let her get away with lots of things out of pure love. I’m sure we all try to tell our humans every single day how much we love them but I’m not sure they all understand. 
Since you are the human behaviour expert what’s your opinion? Do they understand why we head butt them? Or why we purr loudly? Or kneading? Or giving them those little “love bites”? Or cuddle with them with our tummy up? What do you think?
I’ve turned upside down (as you can see in the photo) to understand them and understand their signs of love. How do they tell us “I love you”? What signs should we look for?
CAT Victoria

Dear Victoria,
How far do our humans understand that we love them? They are pretty dumb when it comes to understanding our behaviour, partly because they are so blind to our body language. They sort of understand purring, head butting and kneading. But how many humans do you know, that can distinguish between the slow blink "I love you" and the fast blink "I am frightened so I am cutting off eye contact?" Not many, I fear.
So what are the signs that they love us? Well, they are very vocal and most of them pitch their voices a bit higher and sort of croon a little when they are "talking" to us. Rather like the way they "talk" to babies. Then there is stroking. The best humans know where we like to be stroked and do not stroke in places some of us dislike - the tummy or the backside under the tail. Then there is food, of course. Humans that love us feed us. 
However even loving humans take us to that horrible smelling frightening vet surgery where we are stabbed by needles....  We have to realise that our human pets are sometimes difficult to understand and accept them with all their failings.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Cats can talk.... but I don't bother.

Dear George,
Do you bother to speak with your human? I don't. I communicate in the proper feline way - rubbing, up-tail greeting, belly flop and body postures.
But I don't miaow...
It isn't really natural for me to make that particular noise. I mean, other than Siamese breeds, we don't do a lot of noisy talk between ourselves when we are adults. We are silent most of the time.
Humans yatter to us all the time - blah, blah, blah. I have wondered if they actually have some kind of language or whether these are just meaningless noises to get our attention. 
What's your view on this?
Silent Sid.

Dear Sid,
I strongly believe that there is some kind of language used by humans in their noisy vocalisations. They must mean something, otherwise they wouldn't go on so much. But feline research, even by experts like me, has so far drawn a blank. 
They can't use body language properly. They have no tails or movable whiskers, for one thing. They are nose blind, so they cannot use scent. Therefore it makes sense that they vocalise instead. I have noticed that my human pet, Celia, responds quite well if I miaow. So I use it to get her attention when I want feeding. Might be worth your while to try it. 
Or perhaps you have trained her silently so long that it's not worth the effort.
PS. Celia did a video on this which can be seen here.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Human kittens -- strange smells, weird noises. How to cope.

Dear George,
I didn’t write to you in quite some time so, please forgive me! I was busy moving from a flat to a big house! I wanted more space to move around and have more closets for my selected wardrobe so I put my “paw down” (as you can see in the photo) and asked my humans to find a better place.  But, I have learned the move came with a big surprise! 
Apparently I’ll welcome my human sister in the Spring! I’m talking a human kitten!
That’s big time competition to me! George, as much as I love to see my humans so excited about their kitten I don’t want to lose my Alpha status nor do I want to lose my privileges! So, when and how do I start training the human kitten? Before even being born is….too soon? Right after birth…should I start purring to her? George, help!

Dear Mia,
Disruptive noises and strange smells ... but we have to put up with them, as we cannot (so far) neuter humans.  It will help if your humans help you get used to the noise in advance by downloading this track and playing it very very quietly then slightly louder while you are eating something nice.  They should do this the month before the human kitten arrival so you can get used to the noise.
Your humans should also put in place the new human kitten care routine, before the human kitten arrives, so you can get used to it. That might mean differently timed meals, different places for bowls and litter trays and one room with a door that is shut.
You will find that before the arrival, your male human will come back from hospital smelling odd. If he is a sensible pet, he will bring back something smelling of the human kitten and allow you to investigate it. That way when the wriggling bundle of human fun arrives home, you will be used to its smell. This will help.
Finally, the wise thing to do with a new human kitten is never to investigate it unless your adult human pets are there in the room to protect you. Never share its bed or get too close to its jerky movements. Advice for your humans can be found here. Human kittens are, to be brutally frank, retarded. After eight weeks we can cope with life: it takes years for a human kitten to be sensible enough to train properly. 
Well, it is what it is - you will adapt and even come to love it.
Eventually..... Some Feliway Classic might help too.
PS. I am working hard on my new book which will come out in February. 

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Universal Language of Cats

Dear George,
I live in a big metropole and, I humbly must admit I live the life of the riches!
Really, I am a rescue who got the chance to live in a Four Season Hotel suite!
But, that’s not the reason I’m writing to you! The reason is that I’m afraid I’m losing my mind and I don’t know if it’s because of the luxurious life I’m living or if it’s because the electro-magnetic/microwave pollution of the big city or what! How am I manifesting my symptoms? Simply….I think there is a Tower of Babel ….in my head!You see…Italian is my mother tongue, my mummy speaks French and my daddy speaks English. They have friends who speak other languages. When we have company …everybody is talking to me in their mother tongue and I DO UNDERSTAND them all!
Isn’t that crazy? How can I understand all these foreign languages?
George, can you explain this to me before I completely lose my mind? Or is it that we are so advanced that cat language transcend any other languages?
Completely confused
Signore Bianco

Dear Signore Bianco,
Of course you understand what humans are saying - in so far as it is worth bothering about. The feline communication system is multi-faceted involving scent, vocalising and body language, far more advanced than the human one. Using those three senses we read our humans. (Admittedly like reading a book for very young kittens as most of their language is unnessary blah).
We read their body language much better than they read it. We read their tone of voice with an ability much better than theirs. We read the way their scent changes with their emotions and we read the family mixture of scent - hers, his, and mine.We can detect if they have been stroking another cat half an hour ago or which supermarket they went to (they smell different).
Human beings only understand vocalisations.  And because their other senses just don't work, they have to do an awful lot of vocalising in different languages. But we read what is behind or underneath the words: so we don't have to bother with the exact way they vocalise. Much of what they say is very boring anyway. Poor nose blind creatures!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Animal communication….scam or reality?

Dear George,
I stand here today (in front of a lion ….as you can see in the photo) to debate the animal communication topic. You know very well we can communicate effectively with all species but, humans are not that evolved so, of course, we have a problem communicating with our human pets. Take my example: we are a three cat household, all rescued and, of course with health and/or emotional issues that normally come along with all rescued cats. Our mommy worries a great deal about our wellbeing! 
She tried all novel things including alternative medicine. Well, she wanted more; she wanted to hear from us what we think, what do we like or dislike, etc. So, she booked a reading with an animal communicator. Just to see how dysfunctional humans are…. they call “talking” with an animal communicator….a reading! Phew! Anyway, this woman wasn’t any good but my mommy didn’t know. I did not like her so I shut up and didn’t say anything. She “made up” some stories and charged my mommy a big fee. Mommy was a bit confused so she asked a friend who gave her someone else’s name. Well, well, well…..this time….this animal communicator not only that she was the real thing…she was a real treat! Sweet and compassionate and very, very respectful. We clicked right away and I told her lots of things, things that no one else would know. Mommy was in shock but happy! Now she has a much better understanding of what we like or not, what do we need, etc. Daddy is still skeptical about the whole thing but hopefully….one day … he’ll believe in it too.
George, I like to hear your opinion; what do you think about all this!
Yours… very telepathically

Dear Jasper, 
Telepathy? Maybe.  Extra sensory perception, or ESP - yes. We cats have an extra sense that humans lack - the sense of smell. Humans are blind and deaf to smell, poor creatures. However, there are special humans that can "read" us well. I don't quite know why but perhaps the why of it doesn't matter.
The trouble is that humans cannot tell the difference between humans who can read cats, and humans who can't but charge high prices anyway. I can smell a bad human from about 200 metres.
Can we distinguish good from bad cat experts? Of course we can. We can read our human pets without any difficulty whatsoever.  That's why we domesticated them in the first place! 
PS. Celia thinks the money would be better spent on a properly qualified cat behaviourist - but she would say that! She's toiling through her master's degree on the topic.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Training your human to give you food - Toby shows how it is done.

Dear George,
I have trained a Japanese vet to give me food, when I jump over an obstacle. Altogether an amazing experience and one that I am very proud of. It took several days because she was so slow.
At first she failed to give me any food at all. But she did pay attention to me, so I knew there were possibilities there. When I saw her fiddling about with something that looked like a very small horse jump, I tried several different behaviours.
  • I walked up to it and paused. No food forthcoming.
  • I went for a little walk No food.
  • I walked round it and looked at her. Still no food.
  • Then inspiration struck. I leaped over it. FOOD!!
She was so excited by this, that she made little beep-beep vocalisations. Rather like Celia does after I taught her to give food when I touched her hand.  These humans! With infinite patience, they can learn quite a few amusing food tricks.

Dear Toby,
Congratulations.  It is so worthwhile to purrsist in training your human to deliver food. You are, of course, right. It takes days of effort because human are really not as bright as cats. We have to keep trying and keep our patience.
Food placed in a bowl, even food left available all the time, or stolen food - these are the agreeable aspects of living with a human. But sophisticats go for something rather more cerebral. They train their humans to deliver food on command.
The command you need is not a vocalisation. It is a piece of cute behaviour. Do it and you will be rewarded. You did it. Well done.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Roll.... or role? Why do Humans complicate their language?

Dear George,
You are such an amazing agony aunt; you study humans' behaviour, you write books, articles and you do a lot of studies and research so, maybe you can explain to me the semantics of "roll". For example, when I want to say something....I meow! And, the pronunciation, the sound and the spelling of "my meows" are all the same; the way I write, same way I read and same way I spell. Why is English such a messed up language? Why can two words have quite the same pronunciation/sound but yet different spelling and completely different meanings?  I found this as being very confusing for humans. Maybe that's why we have so many problems training them.
The word in question is "roll" and the problem is my mummy! I know English is not her first language (she speaks more than one language but it doesn't do her any good as you'll see). The other day I've heard her talking with a friend about "Fluffy's role" and I thought: yes! she finally got it. Then I've seen her e-mailing her friend my photo (attached here) as "Fluffy's roll". I realized that we are talking about different things.  When I hear the "word in question" ....I'm thinking of a "role" and my role is to run the house and train my humans. When she hears the "word" she's thinking of one of my relaxing poses asking for a belly rub. Later that day as I was meowing my frustration in regards to her poor linguistic abilities ...I realized something even more disturbing; to her...if I "roll" ....I'm her darling! But if I exercise my "role" (of running the house)...I'm a tyrant, a spoiled brat! See where I'm getting? How can an extra "l" in the absence of an "e" make such a difference? Can you explain this to me George? And, last but not do I make my mummy skip that extra "l" and add an "e" so we'll both be on the same page and talking same language and that means  accepting "my role"?

Dear Fluffy,
Sometimes I despair at the inferior species. Like you, I find decoding human vocalisations very difficult - same sound, different meaning. It's not just the ridiculous spelling (mouse tracks on a page or screen is what I call them)! It's the sheer impenetrability of their sounds.
When I meow, it is purrfectly clear what it means. The pitch, the intensity, and the context distinguish between Meow meaning "I want some of that.": Meow meaning "Open the door please,": Meow meaning "Wake up,": Meow meaning "I am upset. Get me out of here,": Meow meaning "How could you do this to me,": and Meow meaning "No, I am not handing over that bit of chicken I found in the trash."
We can speak clearly and simply.They can't.
They obfuscate and muddle, just like their tiny minds. And the way they babble endlessly. Is it worth studying their vocalisations?  I have done so and I conclude there are only a few words that it is really necessary for a cat to understand. These, in order of importance, are: "vet," "cattery," "sitter," "tin," "food," "bag," "fridge," "chicken," trash," "pill," "door," "dog."  For most of these, except the food ones, you run under the bed.
What is a cat to do with the rest of the noises? Tune most of them out, I think. It's the only way to save your sanity. And I enjoy it when they call "George." I look at them carefully in a disdainful way and saunter off.
Try it, Fluffy. It's a good game.
Purrs and rubs
Just added a photo of me rolling in the dust. Not such a gorgeous tummy, I fear.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Training your humans to play THE music for cats

Dear George,
Lately, I've seen from your posts that "training our humans" is a major theme.
I learned also that you wrote an excellent book on the subject; "A hundred ways to train your human", right?
I must admit I've learned a lot from your blog and, now...I'd like to brag about my success on training my humans.
Here is just one example: my very special "theatre space" :-))) created for me by my mom!
I can watch from here lots of "things" and I can get a belly rub from my humans whenever I want.
I trained them to play the music I like or play a movie for me! So, here I am.... watching this superb piece by Rossini! 
But, I wonder...who trained these two sopranos? Was Rossini a cat himself?
Bravos! That's what we should aim for!

Dear Patches,
Congratulations on your leadership skills in the management of humans. I really enjoyed the Rossini duet and I thought the humans looked very sweet as they tried to speak our language. So well trained. I wonder who trained them.
Your letter set me researching the human music which is about cats. Other musical possibilities are The Kitty Valse (Faure) performed by two human kittens, Puss-in-Boots and the White Cat (Tchaikovsky) and The Cat Dance (Prokofiev). I shall endeavour to find these on Youtube later today.
But the Rossini is best.
Yours gratefully
PS. In 1758 a showman, Bisset expand hired an exhibition room in the Haymarket and put on ‘The Cats’ Opera’ with cats strumming dulcimers and mewing, a monkey dancing with a dog and a hare that walked on his back legs whilst beating a drum.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Are humans capable of feeling grief?

Dear George,
Do humans mourn the loss of another human? Are they intelligent enough to recognise that  a human is dead? Should we take any special measures if our humans lose a loved one?
Yours thoughtfully

Dear Ziggy,
As you know humans are not a highly intelligent species, but I believe that they have the same feelings as we do, even if they are unable to think higher order feline thoughts. So we must assume that they do mourn the loss of a loved companion.
The signs of mourning in a human are water leaking from the eyes, confusion, exhaustion and breaks in the normal routine. I am currently seeing this in Celia, who is mourning her companion human Ronnie. I made sure she saw the body, so she knows he is dead.
I am ensuring she tries to follow some of her normal routine by insisting on breakfast at the normal time, so that she eats some too. At night I take up extra space in the bed, so that she does not so badly miss the warmth of his body. I am also showing her extra affection through the day. She is finding this comforting.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Lost in translation - not the human movie but a cat dilemma

Dear George,
I am the latest addition to this family who lives somewhere in Germany. I am a rescue from a shelter and I don’t know my real name or my mother’s tongue. 
I was named Conrad and I can understand English (the human males speak it fluently) but I have a problem with German, therefore having difficulties training my female human. Just to give you few examples: “Pen” a very simple word becomes in German “Kugelschreiber”, or “butterfly” (since we like to chase them) becomes “Schmetterling”, or “petals” in German is “Blutenblattern” or “science” for that matter ….is “Naturwissenschaften”.
I’m afraid to ask what “meow” is in German. Who can take about half hour just to meow one word? I was told that it is the most logical and beautiful language. No doubt about, but, when I’m hungry I don’t need to spend the whole day just trying to pronounce “food”. I’m lost in translation and I wonder if you can give me some ideas how to simplify my communication.
Auf Wiedersehen (you see? Why not as simple as….“bye-bye”?)

Dear Conrad, 
Personally I don't bother much about the vocalisations of my humans. They are at it all day - blah, blah, blah, blah. A noisy species making nonsensical noises. I focus solely on the vocalisations that matter. 
The vocalisations which can lead to some rewarding experiences are: 'Food', 'Catfood', 'Whiskas,' 'Fish', 'Fish n Chips,' 'Steak', 'Chicken.' You will have to compile your own key words not just because they will be in German, but also because they will vary from household to household. For some people 'Whiskas' might not be important while 'Felix' was. These are both names for cat food in the UK.
Equally important - perhaps even more important - are the vocalisations which mean an unpleasant experience.  'Vet' is probably the most important of all. At the sound of 'Vet' I ease myself out of the door, go out as far away as possible, or hide if the cat flap is closed. I have also had to learn 'V.E.T.' the sound when they 'spell out' the vet word. Other warning sounds are: 'Carrier,' 'Dog' and in my case 'Sister. She smells of dog and has a tendency to want to harass me with unwanted affection.
So get to work. The fact that these German words seem rather long winded is going to be helpful to you. As the occur in the blah-blah-blah, there will be more time for you to pick them out and take appropriate action.
As for your vocal commands. Just don't worry. Keep them easy to the limited brain power of humans to understand. That means, for instance,  a special sounding meow for 'Food now', another for 'Open the door,' and a third for  'Leave me alone.'
Keep them clear. Keep them concise. Keep them consistent. This is art of human training.
Yours George

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why does my human keep inviting other humans into the house?

QUESTION; My human keeps inviting other humans into my territory, the house. I don't like it. They turn up at all hours. She encourages them by feeding them cups of coffee and they vocalise endlessly. It seems like hours, and sometimes it is hours, before I get any privacy. It's my house, my core territory, and I wish I could stop her doing this. I don't invite stray cats into her territory. I keep them out. What does she think she is doing?

You have to try and be compassionate, Ziggy. A good pet owner, and I am sure you want to be one, tries to understand the needs of their pets. Human pets are obligate social animals. They have a dominance hierarchy (a loose one normally) and they spend a lot of time interacting with each other. It sounds as if your human lives alone. She will literally NEED other human company.
We cats don't do this. In wild conditions we hunt alone. We don't share our prey (like mice) with other cats, except when we are feeding our kittens. Sometimes we live in groups, if there is enough food going. But even in groups, we stay in little families. Some of us are true loners. But on the whole we are flexible. We can usually live with other unrelated cats, - maybe not as friends but as friendly acquaintances. But we don't need feline friends.
You have got to accept your human as she is. She hasn't got family in the house so she goes out and finds substitute family, brings them into the home, goes through the behaviour pattern of feeding kittens with them, and vocalises. Vocalisation for humans is a bit like grooming. They go in for mutual vocalisation. This motor pattern is part of the human ethogram.
The social company, kitten-feeding and vocalisation motor patterns are hard wired into them, Ziggy. You've got to allow her to do her instinctive behaviour. Just count yourself lucky that she's not seeking a mate. When humans go calling (for sex) it's incredibly difficult and embarassing for us cats! More on that later.

Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online