piranha: red origami crane (Default)
[personal profile] piranha
i think of myself as generally observant, but now and then i realize -- yeah, not so much.

this morning persis was pestering me while i wanted to read, and she got quite obnoxiously noisy, and i finally shoved her off my chest and said "oh, go meow at one of the other cats".

and then i stopped and thought. and the more i thought the more examples came to mind (i've taken care of many cats over the years). and none of them ever meow at each other. they make all sorts of other sounds; they purr, chirrup, click, hiss, chirp, growl, scream, shriek, snarl, yowl, caterwaul, but they do not meow.

small kittens make meow-like sounds at their mothers, but even those don't quite sound like what our cats direct at us. and they stop making those sounds as they're weaned.

so have adult domesticated cats developed a specialized language for humans? quite possibly even customized to individual humans? most of ours don't talk a lot, but persis is a good example of a very vocal cat. she uses some of the same meow-style sounds for both, the paramour and myself, but additional different ones for me (probably because i am willing to share my sausage, while the paramour isn't).

(yes, of course i will duckduckgo [*] right after posting this. ;)

[*] when creating a search engine, i don't think it'd be presumptuous for the creator to contemplate how people might be verbing their searching if they used it a lot. "google" works when verbing; "duckduckgo" does most emphatically not.

on 2012-08-23 19:33 (UTC)
pameladean: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] pameladean
You'll probably find several articles about the theory that the "meow" noise is a feline greeting specifically to human beings.

I know several people who adopted feral cats who were completely silent for years but eventually developed a vocabulary for communicating with people.

P.

on 2012-08-24 00:26 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] betonica
I'm pretty sure that I (unconsciously) train my cats to meow at me when they want something. The current two were not particularly vocal when they arrived, but are now. And I don't think they meow at each other, either. I'm currently trying to train them to meow when outside the door wanting to come in. Sitting there patiently where I can't see them really doesn't work, and clawing at or climbing the door is to be discouraged.

Did you figure out if Persis wanted anything in particular?

on 2012-08-24 05:33 (UTC)
sara: a tabby cat (another kitty)
Posted by [personal profile] sara
Nah, mine actively meow at each other. If they're wanting the other one to come in and he's outside, it's very loud meows.

on 2012-08-24 10:37 (UTC)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] zeborah
The verb I've seen and started using for duckduckgo is "to quack something".

on 2012-08-24 12:23 (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of sleepy kitten sitting on bird cage (kitten)
Posted by [personal profile] sashajwolf
I'd never thought about this either, but you're right - of the three cats that have lived with us, both the vocal ones have largely only vocalised at humans. The third, quiet one came to us as a stray.

I say "largely only at humans" because our current cat also vocalises at my budgies (I think you call them parakeets). They have an odd sort of interspecies flock/pride thing going on - the budgies have a noise that means "feed us", which they also sometimes use to alert me when the cat's bowl is empty. The cat also gets on well with our friend's dog, who often visits us, but she doesn't vocalise at him - she just sits down near him in companionable silence.
Edited (typo) on 2012-08-24 12:23 (UTC)

on 2012-08-24 14:40 (UTC)
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] outlier_lynn
After reading the previous comments, I offer this: Maybe the meow is an utterance of exasperation seldom needed with other cats because other cats are responding to less demanding language. That would explain meowing at birds and cats on the wrong side of a door.

on 2012-08-24 23:52 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] flarenut
I had sort of figured that humans qualified as parents to their cats, so that the kitten-style behavior simply persisted. Consider all the other kittenish behaviors that cats do with people, especially kneading and localized licking, which are as close to nursing attempts as you could likely ask for.

There is one other vocalization that some of our cats have used, namely a sort of "eh-eh-eh" when they're stalking prey on the other side of a window. When I lived in new york and had a skylight on which pigeons would walk, the feline tension was loudly palpable.

on 2012-08-25 01:11 (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] matthewdaly
I don't know that there's any reason to presuppose that there would be only one global cat language.

on 2012-08-27 15:34 (UTC)
outlier_lynn: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] outlier_lynn
What a wonderful world of possibility that opens up!

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