For weeks on social networks the videos that teach «talk cat». «If you meow saying ‘maaah-ah’ you are telling your cat ‘come here'», explains the tiktoker alec newman. As explained by this content creator, who claims to have learned this new language after observing his cats for yearsmeowing «ahhh» means «I love you» In the language of cats, «tsss» is used to stop them from committing misdeeds and «brrr» is an affectionate way of asking the animal to come closer to you. But do these tips really work? whatIt is possible to ‘talk cat’? Does it help to imitate meows?
The tutorials for ‘talking cat’ They already add millions of views on networks such as Tiktok, Instagram or Twitter. Newman’s lectures on «the meaning of different types of meows» have garnered more than 20 million likes and, in turn, have led to thousands more videos of users putting a test these techniques with your pets. In many of the ‘clips’ shared so far you can see cats responding to the meows of their humans and, for example, waking up, going to a place or simply looking in disbelief at their owners. Does this mean that the tutorials work? According to several experts consulted by EL PERIÓDICO, the answer is no.
@alecanewman I learned this from a Siamese 30 years ago, so it crosses generations and types. #cattok ♬ original sound – Alecanewman
«There is no universal language of cats. There is no cat vocabulary either. Each animal ‘vocalizes’ differently and the sounds made by one do not have to mean the same as those made by another», explains the veterinarian Belen Montoya Jimenezfounder of the platform ‘Pensando en gato’ and expert in feline medicine.
«There is no universal language of cats»
Belen Montoya Jimenez
«The different types of meow do not have a meaning in itself. The frequency and intensity of the meow (if it is higher or lower) has a greater influence than the specific vocalization of the meow,» he adds. cristina gonzalez canoclinical ethologist and member of the department of animal behavior of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).
«The different types of meow do not have a meaning in themselves»
cristina gonzalez cano
How do cats communicate?
As explained by both experts in an interview with EL PERIÓDICO, cats communicate primarily through two channels: the olfactory (through pheromones) and the gestural or visual language (with the expressions of his body). Vocalization (that is, the meows they emit) are a mechanism that they use mainly to communicate with humans. «In feral cat colonies, animals barely meow. In their natural habitat they communicate more through pheromones and sign language,» explains Montoya.
@alecanewman Responding to @Jason Farrand I also learned it from a Siamese cat in the 90’s. 10% of the time this works great. #cattok ♬ original sound – Alecanewman
«Cats have ‘learned’ to meow more as a result of coming into contact with humans because they have observed that we do communicate through sounds and have begun to imitate this mechanism. try to get our attention«, he adds. In this sense, as Montoya explains, the sounds emitted by animals have no meaning in themselves Rather, they are a way for cats to capture our attention and communicate something to us (either a need or a complaint).
«Every cat meows in a different way. The same sound can ‘mean’ different things to two cats»
In addition, as Montoya explains, it must be taken into account that «each cat meows in a different way» and that «the same sound can ‘mean’ different things to two cats». «If we carefully observe the behavior of a cat, we can come to intuit what it is trying to say with a meow, but that same sound in another animal does not have to mean the same thing«adds this specialist.
Why do cats react to human meows?
In many of the videos that have gone viral these days you can see cats reacting to the meowing of their humans. But if there is no language for cats, why do they react this way? As González explains, it is a natural reaction to this type of auditory stimulus. «Cats are curious animals by nature. If they hear a sound that catches their attention, they will go to see what is happening,» says this specialist in animal behavior.
On TikTok there is a man who teaches you to speak cat language and people try it with their michis and it’s fascinating 🤓 pic.twitter.com/u7ZEWDV3n2
— 🐺Eduardo Lima Águila🐺 (@lalo_lima) June 22, 2023
To understand why some cats respond to the «meow» of their humans, González proposes three hypotheses. On the one hand, they may want find out what is the origin of this sound and, therefore, quickly approach their owners. On the other hand, it could be a learned mechanism by which cats have learned to respond to certain stimuli in search of a reward. Finally, it is also possible that cats react to the meowing of humans out of sheer stupor (for that «they don’t expect to see their human meowing»).
@alecanewman Replying to @Aleks | Digital Entrepreneur I’ve also found myself going to “CAT!” works from time to time. #catsoftiktok #cattok #howtotalk ♬ original sound – Alecanewman
«You have to be very careful with some of the sounds that are being recommended to communicate with cats. The sound ‘tssss’, although it does not have a specific meaning, can cause a stress reaction in the animal, promote an aggressive reaction and break the bond of trust that we have with it», warns this expert in animal behavior. «Interpreting the language of cats is not always easy and, for this reason, she recommends doing it hand in hand with an expert. Sometimes we think that a certain reaction means that the cat is enjoying it, when is actually asking for help«, Add.
According to Alicia Gosálbez, from Consulta Felina, there are some sounds that we can associate with certain emotions in feline language. «The ‘chirrup’ indicates a friendly greeting and it is common to see it between the mother and the kittens,» says this specialist. But beyond the sounds we try to make to attract a cat’s attention, Gosálbez remembers that lor more important to communicate with an animal it is «our attitude and ability to create a bond». «This is a job that requires a lot of knowledge and a lot of dedication over time,» she says.