Did you know that scientists did a study on whether humans could understand what a cat was meowing about — and the humans failed miserably? They recorded a dozen cats in five different situations (getting fed, being in a car, etc.), and then asked people to listen and guess what was going on. They had no clue! Humans who lived with cats, or who were cat lovers scored better, but it was still pretty abysmal. But do you know what was really abysmal? The scientific study itself!
It is important for a scientific study to ask the right questions, if the researchers expect to get any meaningful results. And these guys were way off the mark because we cats don’t use our vocalizations as our primary means of communication. In fact, meowing is a last resort, and we only use it because humans seem to respond better to the sounds we make than to our more eloquent body language or facial expressions. When it comes to the nonverbal language we speak, humans are even worse at comprehending than when we meow at them. If scientists want to improve feline-human relations, that is what they should focus on, not meows.
Fortunately, smart humans who spend a lot of time with cats can easily learn feline body language. They know if we are blinking at them, we are being friendly, and that when we rub against them, we are marking territory as much as we are showing affection. And if any human has no idea what airplane ears mean, they probably are pretty bad at reading human facial expressions too. Compared to our nonverbal queues, meows are a clumsy and ineffective way of getting our point across. We only meow because you humans are always talking — so we are trying to lower ourselves to your level.
I bet if scientists did a study on whether we cats understood what humans meant, judging by their vocalizations, we’d score lot better that the humans who couldn’t understand us cats. What do you think, kitties? Am I right?
They did something similar for dogs, but I think for dogs the result was slightly better.
Soni Avander says
Even in us humans, body language comprises 75% of communication, verbal 25%. Scientists must be really dumb to want to try to record cats’ verbal communications 😀
PURRfectly correct as always, YRH. 😆
Of course you are right Sparkle. I meow when mum isn’t paying me enough attention. Often I walk around the garden yowling as loud as I can. I have always done that. Mum wishes she knew why I did it but I am not telling her. She says it drives her mad. Maybe she has answered her own question. Haha!
When I curl up on her lap I chirp to her like I did when I was a kitten.
Savannah's Paw Tracks says
I actually do know Mom very well as she does me. But we do often chat together, especially when I am being flirty and playful on my special step. But that “study” probably can go in the dust bin…just sayin….
Meowma says it is probably good that she does NOT know everything that we are saying. She is probably right. 😉 😈
Jasmine, Joey, Eddie & Rosie
Spitty the Kitty says
Well, I dunno. I never really bothered to pay any attention to what my Stoopy Human is blathering on about. I only listen to her when she has Gerber’s or a brushie in her hand.
Sue Brandes says
I agree. I think the kitties would win too.
My money is on the kitties winning too
You are so right Sparkle, some humans will never get it…ever!
Austin Towers says
Right on the button there, Sparkle!!!
Toby & Leia says
Of course you’re right! Scientists have proven over and over they really have no idea….
Tillie and Georgia says
As usual, you are spot on Sparkle !
We bet there were lots of airplane ears in that study 😉
Purrs Tillie and Georgia,
Treasure,Tiger, JJ and Julie
Cathy Keisha says
You are so right, Sistah! Just when I think I’m getting through to them, they seem to get stupider. Oh well.
My sisfur Isabella doesn’t meow but she will squeak to get someone to come let a toy out that mysteriously keeps getting under the closet doors downstairs. I meow all the time and my mommy understands me pretty well. Basically she comes running to see what I want since she can’t stand to hear her ‘babies’ cry. We have her wrapped around our paws!
Emma and Buster says
oh you hit the nail on the head with this post Sparkle. clearly, there must be education for humans about cats.
Random Felines says
pfft – science is for….humans MOL
Loupi and Zorro says
You’re right Sparkle. Our mom has some elementary skills in understanding us, but we kitties understand humans much better ! Purrs
Famous SpokesGoat Pricilla says
Hmmm, Stinky squeaks, Pumpkin squawks, Harry mews and Sherps MEOWS. The publicist says she needs a translator to figure it all out.
Oui Oui says
We aren’t surprised! And yes, we think kitties are much better at knowing what the humans are saying.
Baby Tali says
The mom here is pretty good at understanding us kittehs…the dad here is kinda clueless..lol.. 😉
I think it must be quite frustrating for Miss Frankie because she does like to talk and while I know she understands me, most of the time I don’t understand her…it’s frustrating for both of us.
they don’t understand us bunnies either Sparkle!xx Speedy
That is probably so true and we like Prancer Pie’s comment that cats do have a sixth sense about humans and who they like and who they don’t I have seen that happen many times right here in my house.
They’ll never understand us because we felines are way too clever 🙂
Totally right, Sparkle. As always. Humans are just so stupid when it comes to understanding us – and each other for that matter. I mean, just look at all the governments of the world!
Glogirly & Katie says
Well Waffles and I have a LOT of vocalizations. Would you believe that Waffles meows at ME??? He must REALLY want my attention. ; )
Sometimes Glogirly understands…but she could definitely do better!
Kitties Blue says
Sparkle, you are always right! Whatever those scientists were paid to do their lame study would have done much more good taking care of homeless animals. Just sayingâ€¦ Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo
Interesting and it does not surprise me at all. Humans are way down on the “smart scale” of life., We cats have it all figured out. M is pretty good at understanding me cuz I literally lead her to where I want her to go after meowing at her first. Humans do train easily tho – well most anyway.
Sometimes, Cats Herd You says
Right on, Sparkle. Meowing is communication of last resort when the peeps won’t look at us to see what we are trying to tell them the cat way.
Feline Yogi says
You are so right on Sparkle! They should pay you to conduct the next scientific study! Meow and Namaste! ~ Pippy the Feline Yogini
The Island Cats says
You got that right, Sparkle. We understand the humans way better than they understand us.
Hannah and Lucy says
Mum knows exactly what we want by the way we look at her – the art is in the training.
Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx
Katie Bella says
Girl, you scored again! You are just really the best! xxoo
The Poupounette Gang says
What about you, Sparkle? Are you a talker? Over here, the big talker is Da Beebs!
Spunky Doodle and Manny says
You absolutely got this right, Sparkle! I know my human understands my early morning meows mean it’s time to get our breakfast, and if I stand by a closed door and meow, mom knows I want her to open it for me. Sometimes we just have to give in and speak like the humans.
prancer pie says
You’re right again, Sparkle. But we kittehz have excellent in-too-ishun, also. That’s what makes us such great judges of character! 😎
The Kitties of Purring Pines says
You’re sooooo right, Sparkle. We can read hoomans like a can of wet food!