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Do cats like being talked to?

Communi-cat-ive: cats attentive to owner’s voice, research finds

Ginger cat in domestic living room, standing up on his hind legs looking alert and staring past the camera

Any cat owner knows that the correct way to get their pet’s attention is to sing “here, kitty kitty”, rather than utter a flat “come here cat”. Now research suggests cats may routinely tune into their owner’s tone of voice to detect when they are talking to them, rather than to other humans.

Most people automatically adopt a higher-pitched, sing-song tone when speaking to animals and human infants. Although previous research has suggested that such “baby-talk” is more likely to capture dogs’ attention, less was known about how cats react to being spoken to in this way.

To investigate, Charlotte de Mouzon and colleagues from Paris Nanterre University observed how 16 cats responded to hearing pre-recorded sentences spoken by their owner or a stranger, by recording changes in their behaviour, such as moving their ears or tails, suddenly stopping what they were doing, or their pupils dilating – any of which could indicate that a sound had caught their attention.

They found that the cats were largely unresponsive to hearing a stranger’s voice calling their name, but when their owner did it, 10 of the 16 cats displayed a constellation of behaviours suggesting increased attentiveness. Cats also showed more signs of interest when they heard their owner speaking sentences in a tone usually used to address their cat – but not when a stranger used this tone, or when their owner spoke the same sentence as if addressing a fellow adult human.

The research, published in Animal Cognition, adds to mounting evidence that one-to-one relationships are important for cats and humans to form strong bonds. “For a long time it has been thought that cats are very independent creatures, only interested in [humans for] eating and shelter, but the fact that they react specifically to their owner, and not just anybody addressing them, supports the idea that they are attached,” said de Mouzon. “It brings further evidence to encourage humans to consider cats as sensitive and communicative individuals.”

Potentially, the relationship works both ways, as cats have previously been observed to purr differently when trying to solicit food from their owners, compared with, for example, when they are being stroked – and humans judged these “solicitation” purrs as more urgent. “The fact that, in return, cats show a greater reaction when their humans specifically address them brings a new dimension to previous considerations of this reciprocal relationship,” de Mouzon said.

Although it’s not entirely surprising that cats are more responsive to their owners’ voices, the fact that they appear to be filtering out insignificant information is interesting, said Roger Tabor, a biologist and author of 100 Ways to Understand Your Cat. “I’m sure a lot of human partners don’t hear what the other partner is saying a lot of the time because they’re focused on something which, for them, is more immediately significant. It’s interesting that cats are also filtering – although it’s not so strange because one thing has meaning, and the other has less meaning.”

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Given these findings, de Mouzon said cat owners should not feel embarrassed about speaking to their pets in this way. “I also talk to my [two] cats as if they were children – and they do respond,” she said. “People may be shy about admitting this, but I think it can help to reinforce the bond between cats and their owners. They get that we are giving them attention.”

Do Cats Like Baby Talk? The Surprising Answer!

woman carrying a cat

Although it’s impossible to say whether cats like baby talk, they are more prone to react to a person who is talking the baby talk than normally. The reason for this is that baby talk is typically spoken at higher frequencies, which cats are better at picking up.

So, talking in baby talk to your cat isn’t just cute. It is actually one of the best ways to communicate with your cat and get its attention. Keep reading to learn more.


What the Science Says

Whether your cat likes baby talk is an impossible question to answer. After all, we cannot interview cats to understand their subjective experience with baby talk. We can measure cats’ reactions to baby talk versus normal talk.

Surprisingly, studies from around the globe have suggested that cats are more likely to respond to their owners when talking in baby talk. Most of the time, these responses are positive, whether it results in the cat walking to the owner or the cat meowing back.

It’s impossible to know exactly why this is, but most experts theorize that it goes back to the cat’s hunting evolution. Cats evolved to hear quiet, high pitch sounds, such as those from mice, rats, and other rodents. As a result, cats respond better to high frequencies than low ones.

Whenever people talk in baby talk, they automatically take a higher-pitched voice, which the cat responds to faster than the normal voice. This also explains why cats are more prone to bonding with women. Women naturally have higher-pitched voices than men.

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What’s In a Name?

man petting a cat

One of the most obvious places to see cats’ affinity for higher pitch is in names. Experts have found that cats are more likely to respond to their name or nickname if it ends with the “ee” sound. Kitty, baby, and Timothy are just a few examples.

These names end with the “ee” sound. In English, this sound forces higher pitched inflection than other names. “Gordon,” for example, is going to get less of a reaction from your cat than “Gordie.” The “ee” sound at the end of “Gordie” forces your cat’s attention because of its higher-pitched sound at the end.

If your cat does not have an inflected ending name, that does not mean you have to change its name. Instead, just settle on a nickname you can use whenever you have to get your cat’s attention. That way, the cat will still respond to its name, but you have a stronger name to use if the cat is not listening.

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Why Do People Use Baby Talk To Their Cats?

It is unclear exactly why humans are more prone to talking like a baby to their pet. However, most experts suggest that this unconscious decision says just as much about us as it does our listener, whether it be a baby or a cat.

Some experts suggest that talking in a high-pitched, singsong voice is an unconscious decision that we make whenever we assume the listener does not understand the language. For example, we speak like this whenever we are trying to communicate with foreigners, infants, and pets. We may be attempting to communicate in a more simplified way with our furry friend for this reason.

Some experts even suggest that humans do this to bond with their pets, even if the pet does not understand. More bluntly, baby talk is a way for people to treat their pet as a baby and to add more meaning to the relationship or creature.

Perhaps, humans unconsciously realize that cats even respond better to high-pitched noises. After all, cats and dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years. It would make sense for us to know on an unconscious level that the pets are more likely to respond whenever we speak in this way.

Is It the Same with Dogs?

Most experts believe that dogs respond to higher-pitched sounds in the same way that cats do. Dogs are fantastic hunters that can hear higher pitched sounds than we can. As a result, dogs, especially puppies, like high-pitched sounds in the way that cats do. The only difference is that dogs are more likely to respond than cats in general purely because of their more social nature.

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Final Thoughts

If you speak baby talk to your cat, don’t stop now. Your cat more than likely loves the attention and is more likely to respond if you use high-pitched sounds. Don’t feel silly just because you talk like a baby to your cat or other pet.

You can even use this information to your advantage. Select a name or nickname that ends with the “ee” sound. Your cat will be more likely to respond to its name if you do this.

Featured Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

Do Cats Like Being Talked To – What You Should Know!

If you’re talking to your cat, you may have your “cat” voice. This could be a silly or high-pitched voice that you’d never talk to anyone else in. Whenever you talk to your cat in one of these strange voices, he listens intently. Every time this happens, you start to ask: do cats like being talked to?

Yes, cats like being talked to. Talking to your cat helps with bonding and creating a comforting atmosphere for them. Cats also enjoy high-pitched voices over low ones.

Cats love the sound of their human’s voice for many reasons, which we will get into in this article. If you want to learn more about why your cat likes your voice so much, keep on reading!

Reasons Cats Like Being Talked To

There isn’t only one reason why your cat gets excited when you talk to him. Here are five of the most common reasons:

Your Cat Likes The Attention

Your cat may like being talked to simply because he is getting attention from you. If you have multiple cats, then this could be a moment that you give your cat one-on-one attention that he may not often get otherwise.

It Is A Bonding Moment With Your Cat

Your cat may see your one-sided conversation as a bonding moment. Your cat does not know what you are saying, of course, but he may still enjoy that time with you.

Your Cat Thinks He Will Get A Treat

Your cat may think you are talking to him to call him to give him a treat or his dinner. You may have a habit of talking to your cat before giving him a treat. You may not realize that you are doing this, but your cat certainly will!

Your Cat Thinks You Sound Like A Bird

If you are talking to your cat in a high-pitched voice, then your cat may think that you sound like a bird. Your cat will be attracted to the sound of your voice since it sounds like one of his favorite kinds of prey.

It Makes Your Cat Feel Comfortable

The sound of your voice could be comforting for your cat. Your voice is familiar to your cat, which means that it can be enough to calm down even the most anxious of cats.

Do Cats Like To Be Talked To Like A Baby

Yes, cats like being talked to like a baby.

We’ll talk more about why cats like to be talked to in a high-pitched voice like a baby, so keep reading to understand that.

Regardless of the scientific reason why cats prefer to be talked to like a baby, remember that your cat sure likes it!

People usually say that you should not talk to babies in a voice different than your own, but that is not the same for cats. You are not teaching your cat to speak, so you do not have to worry about using the “incorrect” voice with your cat.

What Do Cats Think When You Talk To Them

Cats cannot understand what you are saying, but they may think that you are their prey.

It may go without saying that cats cannot understand the human language. Your cat may start to learn a few words out of habit, like food. Essentially, your cat does not know what you are saying.

When your cat hears you speak, he thinks that you are a bird or prey. This is why your cat’s eyes may go large and round while you are talking to them.

Your cat may seem like they are your most captive audience, but in reality, your cat is almost stalking you like his prey.

Do Cats Like Their Owner’s Voice

Cats love to hear their owner’s voice.

Once your cat gets used to you, he will know your voice like one of your children. You might even start to notice that your cat will come when you call him but not when someone else calls him.

Your voice is comforting to your cat as well. Your cat will know that you are home or nearby if he hears your voice.

What Voices Do Cats Like

Cats like high-pitched voices the most.

Your cat likes when you speak to him in high-pitched voices because a high-pitched voice sounds like a bird.

Your high-pitched voice is the frequency that your cat prefers. Although some people hate when people talk in baby voices, your cat will never tell you that he does not like it.

If you cannot do a high-pitched voice well, your cat will still like your voice as high as you can make it. Don’t strain your voice!

Things To Consider

Since we’ve been discussing how your cat likes your voice, you might start to wonder if you should be talking to your cat all the time.

This may lead to the next natural question: should I leave the television or radio on for my cat when I’m not home?

The TV or radio is not the same as your voice, but it will fill the silence in your house when you are at work or running errands.

Leaving on an electronic will make it feel like you are home. For instance, your cat will still hear voices and commotion while you are not home. It is not your voice, which your cat may know, but he will still be happy to hear something other than silence.

Music could also go a long way to calm your cat.

Some cable providers also have what is called “Cat TV,” which shows birds and wildlife. This channel could keep your cat busy if you think he gets bored while you’re not home.

You should not turn on the TV or radio for your cat if he is not used to the noise or if he startles easily.

The radio or TV may have many different noises that your cat is not used to, which can scare him. For example, the sound of drums or a car crash in a commercial could be something your cat never heard before.

Your electronics may make sure the house is not quiet, but they could also introduce sounds that your cat doesn’t like. You may mean well by leaving artificial noise for your cat, but you need to know and understand your cat’s personality first.

My name is James, and welcome to FAQCats!

Along with our team of cat owners, expert pet enthusiasts, and pet professionals, we aim to write engaging helpful, engaging content about cats. At FAQCats we strive to provide content that’s accurate and fun to read. Our team writes about everything related to cats; even the most complex of topics. Through extensive research and caring for our own fur-pals, we’re able to provide something cat owners worldwide will love. Have a look around, and leave us feedback anytime!

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