Can Cats Understand English & Other Languages!?

You’ve probably wondered if your cat understands you when you talk to it. Sometimes it almost seems to us that our furry friends can understand every word we say – but then they seem to ignore most of it.

But can cats actually understand humans and how well can humans interpret the language of cats?

Your Cat Understands You

A study by Japanese researchers on communication between humans and cats, which was published in the article “Domestic cats (Felis catus) discriminate their names from other words” ( Sci Rep  9, 5394 – 2019) * in the magazine “Nature”, comes to exactly this conclusion close: Domestic cats actually react when they hear their name – even when a stranger calls out to them. Cats are probably even able to interpret human gestures (e.g. pointing a finger at the bowl with fresh food) and behaviors.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t hope for too much understanding from your sweetheart: cats just have their own mind and they like to enforce it. Instead, ask yourself how you can really learn to understand your little protégé. If you try to learn cat language, you will soon be able to empathize with your cat better.

The Main Thing Is Not What People Say, But How

Can Cats Understand English & Other Languages!?

A feline expert describes a funny case. The pride of one lady from the United States, Irina, had an absolute understanding with her cat George. The cat not only reacted to commands instantly at the first call but even, according to the owner, could guess her mood and almost keep the conversation going.

Irina was sure that cats understand human language and sincerely believed that her cat understands humans. Once Irina went on vacation to her friend Annette in Denmark and took George with her on the trip.

Upon arrival, wanting to demonstrate the extraordinary abilities of her cat, Irina invited Annette to pronounce some commands that the cat had been trained in … But, despite the fact that Annette was fluent in English, the cat did not react to her in any way!

This is the best evidence that cats in the process of communication perceive semiotics they are accustomed to, for example, the characteristics of the human voice – intonation, tone, rhythm, and other factors. The same word, pronounced by the owner and a stranger, either requires an immediate reaction (especially when offered to eat), or it means no more than an ordinary noise.

It is possible that if you have a really good relationship with your cat, then whatever you say will be pleasant music to your cat’s ears.

Cats React Differently To Voice Tones

Can Cats Understand English & Other Languages!?

Feline physiology and behaviorist Logan Forbes shares stories from personal experiences. When she calls her cat “Lilly Poo!” in a soft voice, raising the tone at the end, the cat reacts and responds with a meow, or simply turns its head towards her. But if you pronounce the same name deliberately loudly, sharply, the cat will not react, or it will simply be frightened.

Moreover, Forbes claims that if she builds the phrase “It’s time to go to the vet” with the same melody with which she pronounces the name of the cat, Lilly will also react positively. Her other cat, Milo does not like loud sounds, even the doorbell can make him retreat from the sofa to the farthest corner of the room.

However, Logan taught him to react more calmly: now, when the bell rings, she says “It’s okay” in a certain manner. Over time, the cat got used to trusting this phrase and no longer hides from loud sounds – he understood, despite negative emotions, that nothing threatens him if the owner informs about it.

A vivid example of how a cat understands a person and human speech is really described here, however, it must be taken into account that, again, without the necessary intonation, the effect of communication will not be achieved.

The video below clearly shows how the cat reacts to a certain word, spoken with an intonation that he also remembered.

Can Cats Talk In Our Language

The reverse interaction is also interesting: for example, in the course of observations, Logan was able to reveal that if Lily is accidentally locked in a room, she meows in a thin voice, like a kitten to be released – and this is the only time she uses this type of signal.

And Milo in the evening before going to bed in a special way “purrs” a phrase of two “moors”, each of which consists of two syllables, until the owner pays attention to it. “Could it be that Milo remembered what others call it, and, having counted the number of syllables, is trying to imitate my name in his own way?” Logan asks.

Summing up, we can say that if cats do not understand the human language in the sense in which we understand it, this does not mean that cats can’t understand us at all. Quite the opposite – they not only perfectly understand, but they themselves try to communicate back to us. And people, for their part, make a lot of efforts to establish communications. After all, we have been living side by side for more than 10,000 years!

Can Cats Understand English & Other Languages!?

Can Technology Help Us Communicate With Cats

Professor Kon Slobodchikov from the University of Northern Arizona, who is currently working on the “translation” of the sound system of prairie dogs, is confident that his developments can be used for accurate recognition and interpretation of sounds made by other animals, including cats. …

Thanks to the new Artificial Intelligence (AI) software, the professor believes that the ability to communicate with cats will be available to us by downloading a special app to our mobile phones!

Well, let’s see what will come of it.

Final Thoughts

Cats have the ability to partially understand us humans, even if they don’t always do what we want them to do. However, this is mostly because we are not communicating with them properly. In order to be able to live harmoniously with one another, it is essential that you also understand your cat’s language.



  • Jessica Vanclap

    Passionate about animals, but also about health, I did not hesitate for long in choosing my studies. Veterinary assistant by training, I worked in a veterinary clinic for several years. I then made the choice to share my knowledge and experiences by joining the training team of a school of Veterinary Assistant and Grooming. Why Trust ShelterAPet? At ShelterAPet, our collective is composed of writers, veterinarians, and seasoned animal trainers with a deep passion for pets. Our team of esteemed professionals delves into extensive research to deliver trustworthy insights on a broad spectrum of pet-related subjects. We anchor our evaluations on direct customer experiences, meticulous testing, and comprehensive scrutiny. Our commitment is to uphold transparency and integrity for our cherished community of pet aficionados and prospective pet parents.

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