The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:07 AM
metronome metronome is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
Do cats "understand" speech like dogs do?

I grew up with a dog, and I know that dogs don't really "understand" human speech, but they can learn their name and commands like, "No teeth!" and "Sit!" and "No!"

Last weekend, I got my first cat (mandatory cat pictures). She doesn't respond to her name, and she ignores "no."

So, do cats not understand that they're being scolded, or do they just not care? Can they learn, like dogs can? If they don't understand what "No!" means, how do you teach them to not do things?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:13 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Cats understand. They just don't care.


I've known plenty of cats who demonstrably understood their name (at least understood that it meant "Hey You! Attention!" or "Come Over Here!")
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:15 AM
Whack-a-Mole Whack-a-Mole is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
I believe they can understand speech. Cats are trainable to do a variety of things and respond to verbal commands.

I think the issue is they are by nature not as "programmed" as dogs to accept training easily. I know for a fact my cats know their names. If I call one name or another the appropriate cat will usually turn its head to look at me to see what it is I am on about. The other cat ignores the name completely unless I call her name then she responds similarly. Neither will come when I call...just acknowledge they heard it.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:18 AM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
My cats understand stuff. Sometimes they respond.

I'm giving 3x daily drops in Glaucoma Cat's eye. I say, "C'mere big fella...lemme poke you in the eye." He rarely responds.

But if I say "C'mere big fella, come cuddle with mommy" he'll hop right up on my lap.

Another one likes to go for a walk on Mr. K's shoulder. If we say "Wanna go for a walk?" she'll hop up on the fridge (access point for the walk).

We have another one who just loves being told it's her birthday! She gets all bonky and rolly when we say it.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:22 AM
metronome metronome is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham
Cats understand. They just don't care.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole
I think the issue is they are by nature not as "programmed" as dogs to accept training easily. I know for a fact my cats know their names. If I call one name or another the appropriate cat will usually turn its head to look at me to see what it is I am on about. The other cat ignores the name completely unless I call her name then she responds similarly. Neither will come when I call...just acknowledge they heard it.
That's about what I figured. I think she's not a pet so much as a third roommate who doesn't pay rent.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:23 AM
BrknButterfly BrknButterfly is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
My cat understands he is doing something wrong if I do the "Tssst" sound. Typically he won't stop though. I have to get up and approach him before he runs off. About 50 percent of the time, after he runs off he will hide and then attack my feet.

He's an ass like that.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:26 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Yeah, they're like a stubborn, opinionated dog - a whole species of Jack Russell terriers. Edison knows who we're talking about when we call him Fattles, too.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:32 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 32,346
I had "Puppy-Cat" a Siamese who was raised by a mother dog after his own mother rejected him. He understand "retrieve" and would go get his ball so I could throw it and he could bring it back. When I said "Go Out" he would go to the front door and let me put his leash on. "Bedtime" and he would run to his floormat which was beside my floormat.

I miss Puppy-Cat.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:35 AM
The Scrivener The Scrivener is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
My family had a cat who was so attentive to our talking about food that we had to be guarded with words like "cheese" and "treat" because, once he heard one of the magic words, he'd get so frantically hyperactive and bouncing-off-the-walls ecstatic that we'd have little choice but to go ahead and give him something.

Then my Mom got the idea of spelling out the magic words, so "treat" became "T-R-E-A-T". He twigged to it immediately.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:40 AM
Swallowed My Cellphone Swallowed My Cellphone is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole
I believe they can understand speech. Cats are trainable to do a variety of things and respond to verbal commands.
My sorely missed Lenny responded to a variety of verbal commands and learned several of the standard "dog tricks" such as "sit", "beg", "speak", and "fetch" (as "go get the birdy").

He of course responded best to his name and reward words: "suppertime", "cookie", and "Kill it! Kill it!" (which referred to flies trapped by the window. He loved killing flies.)

ETA: He would also often only very begrudgingly do "sit", "beg" and "speak". If you weren't waving a slice of bacon, he'd probably ignore you. He understood the commands and would do them, but only if there was a worthwhile reward.

ETA 2: My other cat, Squiggy, seems too stupid to understand most commands and only seems to respond to his name and "suppertime" (and that's only because Lenny used to).

Last edited by Swallowed My Cellphone; 08-15-2008 at 08:44 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:45 AM
Kizarvexius Kizarvexius is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
A fundamental difference between dogs and cats.

Catch a dog in the act of cleaning out the kitchen trash or giving your dining room table a leg-ectomy. Shout at dog, repeatedly call it bad, swat it with a rolled up newspaper. Dog says to itself "hmmm, I have displeased the master. I should not do that again."

Catch a cat in the act of transforming your shower curtain into a hanging fringe. Shout at cat, repeatedly call it bad, give it a quick blast of cold water from the hand held shower nozzle. Cat says to itself "hmmm, I have displeased my servant. I should only redecorate the bathroom when he is not around."
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:46 AM
FourPaws FourPaws is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrknButterfly
My cat understands he is doing something wrong if I do the "Tssst" sound. Typically he won't stop though. I have to get up and approach him before he runs off. About 50 percent of the time, after he runs off he will hide and then attack my feet.

He's an ass like that.
Tsssting, Tsssting, one, two, three....
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:47 AM
BrknButterfly BrknButterfly is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by FourPaws
Tsssting, Tsssting, one, two, three....
You have WAY to much time on your hands.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:49 AM
Public Animal No. 9 Public Animal No. 9 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
Our younger cat Phoenix definitely understands "No." She loves to intimidate our older cat, but if I see Phoenix getting ready to pounce, I will say "no, no, no" and she understands that it means trouble for her if she carries out her nefarious plans. The older cat also seems to understand that she's not getting in trouble, Phoenix is. They also both respond when we call their names. That doesn't mean that either of them are completely obedient, just that they recognize the speech.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08-15-2008, 08:49 AM
FourPaws FourPaws is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrknButterfly
You have WAY to much time on your hands.
Pot, Kettle calling...
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 08-15-2008, 09:32 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
Cat fight! Cat fight!

I can deliver the line with any intonation or accent, but when my dog hears, "Shall we go out then?", he knows exactly what I am saying, and will go and get his ball, or whatever he wants to take with him.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 08-15-2008, 09:45 AM
jayjay jayjay is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by metronome
If they don't understand what "No!" means, how do you teach them to not do things?
Spray bottle. It's the only thing that actually works for our three, except for actually getting up and chasing them away from the victim of their current malice.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 08-15-2008, 09:47 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
When I was a kid, my family owned a cat who knew certain words, and like other posters have said, typically it seems like they only learn and/or react to words that have direct meaning for them. So they may well understand what you mean if you teach them what "sit" is, but if they don't want to sit, they might ignore you.

You could look straight at the cat (to avoid other cues like glancing at the item) and ask "Where's the _______" and she'd go look. "Treat" would send her to the kitchen to pace under the counter that held the treat containers. "Mouse" would make her run to a baseboard that once had a mousehole in it, and which had been covered over with a new baseboard but still had hints of mouse activity and sound. "Bird" would have her running to a window, typically the bathroom window in the back since that had a good view of the bird feeder. Of course we'd accidentally trained her to learn those words in the usual fashion, talking about "treat" when giving her one, asking if she saw a "bird" when she was crouched in the window, eyeing the feeder's occupants, etc.

(On a side note, it seems like ferrets can learn words similarly. I even taught one of our ferrets to sit up on the command. Since they have teeny little attention spans, I only ever bothered with the one. )
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 08-15-2008, 09:52 AM
Bosstone Bosstone is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
Spray bottle. It's the only thing that actually works for our three, except for actually getting up and chasing them away from the victim of their current malice.
And if you say "No!" while squirting them, they rapidly learn that "No!" means imminent water attack and they'll run for the hills. Effective.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 08-15-2008, 09:58 AM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 9,775
Gary Larson did a pair of Far Side cartoons on this topic.

What we say to dogs

What we say to cats


(scroll about halfway down the page for both cartoons, or search for the word "pair")
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 08-15-2008, 10:01 AM
chowder chowder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
My cat, Eccles, not only undertands words of command but he can also speak fluent English, Mandarin Chinese, German and is learning French, Latin and Russian at the moment.

Obviously I have never heard him speak, why should he lower himself to speak to me, after all I'm merely the provider of food and shelter
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 08-15-2008, 11:58 AM
Wheeljack Wheeljack is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Mr. Balls understands a number of commands, and aloof cat cliches aside, he responds to them rather intelligently. He knows that "get down" means to scrunch below my computer monitor if he's on my desk, but to jump to the floor if he's on my lap. He knows that "be nice" means to retract his claws if he's playing too rough, and "don't fight" means the flea shampoo experience is only going to get worse for him if he doesn't stop resisting.

They're remarkably perceptive. He can tell whether I'm reaching out to pet him or play-fight with him based on body language clues that I'm not aware of myself. He always knows though. It's kinda creepy.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 08-15-2008, 12:31 PM
JustThinkin' JustThinkin' is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Our old cat Cayuse took way too many trips to the vet during one trying year. We always managed to get her in her crate easily enough. We kept the crate out so we wouldn't signal our intentions in advance. Find her, scoop her up, stuff her in the crate. No prob.

One time, I was singing while getting ready to go. The song started out to the dog, who we crated while we were gone: "you put the dog in the box and shake it all up" etc. When I went for Cayuse, I started singing, "you put the cat in the box and shake it all up." By the time I got up the stairs to find the cat, the cat was under the bed. It took me 5 minutes to get her to come out. (She always came running whenever we whistled a tune, preferably Summertime from Porgy and Bess.)
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 08-15-2008, 12:52 PM
tim314 tim314 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 3,891
Quote:
Originally Posted by metronome
I grew up with a dog, and I know that dogs don't really "understand" human speech, but they can learn their name and commands like, "No teeth!" and "Sit!" and "No!"
Well, some dogs can.

I have two dogs, and one of them understands "No!" perfectly well, while the other just stares stupidly at me wagging his tail. And yet, he's perfectly able to figure out what the sound of the treat jar being opened means. Go figure.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 08-15-2008, 01:16 PM
Roadfood Roadfood is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosstone
And if you say "No!" while squirting them, they rapidly learn that "No!" means imminent water attack and they'll run for the hills. Effective.
My cat not only clearly knows her name, but understands differences in tone of voice when it's said.

She likes to jump up on the counter where the other cat's food is and eat it (the food, I mean, not the other cat). If I see her on the floor making ready to jump up there and I say, "Misty" in that a short, low-toned way that parents use when a child is doing something wrong, the cat will utter this little "maow-maow" sound (like, "Aw, you never let me have any fun...") and walk away.

But if she's just laying down across the room, and I say "Misty!" in a more high-pitched, friendly sort of way, she will often trot over to me.

Both cats clearly know what "stop it!" means, too. If one is clawing at the rug, and I yell "Stop it!", she stops. The other one usually gives me a look like, "What? I'm not doing anything." Mind you, a little while later the former will again claw at the rug. So cats clearly can understand words and even tone, but apparently have great difficulty with the concept of applying that meaning to anything beyond the right here-and-now.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 08-15-2008, 01:26 PM
goodie goodie is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
BoyKitty knows his name, I just don't think he always cares that he's being spoken to. Cinnamon doesn't seem to have any idea that we have a word that we associate with her. I think I probably spend more time trying to learn their language and communicating with them than they do with me. Maybe it's that dogs feel more dependent on their working relationship with us for their food and comfort, and a cat never really forgets that they can do without us so they have never learned to put the effort into learning commands. Not that a dog couldn't hunt for it's own food if it had to, I think they just don't fully realize it to the extent that a cat does.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 08-15-2008, 02:10 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lethbridge, AB.
Posts: 48,161
Perceptive - that's the right word for cats. My two cats will come when called (I usually get both cats for the price of one, because there might be tuna involved!), and they stay off of the coffee table and kitchen counters because I've trained them to stay off of there (well, they stay off when I'm around - I can leave a piece of chicken on my plate on the coffee table and come back to it untouched). I trained them not with a squirt bottle but with the loud "psst" and clap my hands method - they don't like being startled. I used the squirt bottle on my cat, Feather, once, and she looked at me like she was going to pack her bags and leave. They absolutely communicate with their humans - they have a lot of vocalizations, and they use all of them on us. My cat even sings with me - I sing the "Featheroni Baloney" song to her, and she mews between lines.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 08-15-2008, 03:17 PM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Posts: 2,352
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder
"Mouse" would make her run to a baseboard that once had a mousehole in it, and which had been covered over with a new baseboard but still had hints of mouse activity and sound.
[total derailment]Wow, you've actually seen a mousehole in a baseboard? Did it look like a cartoon hole -- sort of a micro tunnel -- or more of a round hole a mouse could squeeze through?[/td]

Russells aren't the only opinionated dogs. The resident salukis are perfectly capable of understanding commands they're familiar with, and their names, but respond only when it suits them. The anatolian, OTOH, is more willing to do what you tell her. Reluctantly if it doesn't involve fun or food, but she does it.

Last edited by DesertDog; 08-15-2008 at 03:18 PM.. Reason: Stupid invisible typos
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 08-15-2008, 03:58 PM
Daerlyn Daerlyn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Leafs Nation
Posts: 1,097
The thing with training cats is that they require clearcut incentive to take to the training, whereas for dogs, the fact that you're giving them attention and appear to be pleased with their behaviour is usually sufficient.

If the cat is not interested in playing fetch with you, then you'll never be able to train her into returning the paper ball until you make it worth her while.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 08-15-2008, 06:39 PM
wisernow wisernow is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: at my desk
Posts: 684
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
Spray bottle. It's the only thing that actually works for our three, except for actually getting up and chasing them away from the victim of their current malice.
So I thought but of the two cats I have, only one seems to be scared of the spray bottle.

Weird but the other one likes getting sprayed on his butt hole. When I pick up the spray bottle. the one who does not like it, quietly slinks away. The other one however comes forward and turns his back on me and waits with tail raised until I spray his ass with water. A couple of squirts and he trots away some distanceand then sits down and licks his butt dry.

Rinse lather repeat.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 08-15-2008, 06:45 PM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Me: "Tur-KEY"?

Phoebe: "Rrreow-OWL?"

She then trots into the kitchen and waits patiently at the spot where sliced turkey has been known to mysteriously fall from the sky.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:09 PM
picunurse picunurse is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Seattle
Posts: 11,510
I believe that cats, like dogs or people have varying degrees of intelligence. All the cats I have now respond to their respective names. They understand NO!, but that may be tone of voice.
One of them seems to understand "Bring it here." He fetches.

I had one cat that seemed to know several words like, "outside" "treat" and "no claws."
He always seemed to know when we were talking about him. If anyone said "Vet" he would hide for hours.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:22 PM
Klaatu Klaatu is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
The obligatory dog and cat journal .
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:32 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDog
[total derailment]Wow, you've actually seen a mousehole in a baseboard? Did it look like a cartoon hole -- sort of a micro tunnel -- or more of a round hole a mouse could squeeze through?[/td]
I was young enough that I don't really remember the mousehole itself well, but IIRC it was small (like quarter size or less), started at floor level, and was kind of oblong vertically but not the perfect mouse archway like in cartoons. I think the new baseboard/molding was a redecoration in the house as this stuff was very thick, and strong wood; you could see (because it didn't sit entirely flush with the wall around that point) down a little ways and see the top of what looked like another hole, maybe being scratched up in an attempt to get up and over the tall baseboard before giving up and finding a better entry elsewhere.

This provided our cats with a tantalizing spot - they could hear the pitter-patter/scritching of a mouse more easily around there, smell them more easily there, and at some point in the past it had been a mouse-hole, so the cat in question would zero in on that spot as "mouse!" (They would occasionally kill mice in the basement, but couldn't get there unless we let them downstairs.)
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 08-15-2008, 07:32 PM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
My SO's mom's cat understands. He does tricks like a dog. Sit. Stay. Shake a paw. Highfive. Roll Over.

She had time on her hands and trained him. It's freeky.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 08-16-2008, 12:22 AM
InternetLegend InternetLegend is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 3,583
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kizarvexius
A fundamental difference between dogs and cats.

Catch a dog in the act of cleaning out the kitchen trash or giving your dining room table a leg-ectomy. Shout at dog, repeatedly call it bad, swat it with a rolled up newspaper. Dog says to itself "hmmm, I have displeased the master. I should not do that again."

Catch a cat in the act of transforming your shower curtain into a hanging fringe. Shout at cat, repeatedly call it bad, give it a quick blast of cold water from the hand held shower nozzle. Cat says to itself "hmmm, I have displeased my servant. I should only redecorate the bathroom when he is not around."
Actually, our dog says to himself, "Gee, I'd better not get caught doing this again!" and does it only when we're not around. Of course, then he acts so guilty that he essentially leads us to the scene of the crime when we get back.

The cats all know when we're telling them to quit something, but they all respond differently. Say I come upon one cat eating out of another's bowl (a daily occurrence). Socks, the big black-and-white tailless cat, will run and hide. His attitude seems to be that I don't want him to eat. Nico, the Siamese cross, will brazenly meow at me and go to her own bowl as if she's just made a perfectly understandable mistake. Cisco, the giant gray-and-white tabby who is the perpetual kitten of the group, will meow at me piteously and try to go back to eating the other cat's food because, obviously, his own bowl is empty and he has no choice! They react in much the same way when I catch them doing anything wrong: Socks acts as though I'm an ogre who plans to kill him, Nico seems to be saying, "What? I'm not doing anything!" and Cisco will pause and then continue the behavior because, really, he wants to.

I'd say the cats understand me just as well as the dog does. They just don't seem to be quite as interested in what I have to say.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 08-16-2008, 12:25 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 22,925
All of my cats, past and present, have known how to spell. I yell "E-A-T," and they come running into the kitchen and sit waiting by their bowl. If I spell any other word, they don't respond.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 08-16-2008, 02:11 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 22,775
My cat usually comes when called. He also understand "nap time" when I lay down and pat my chect (he likes to nap on my tummy).

He doesn't care too much about dinner time, but at night he gets a small chunk of raw liver, and he understands "liver-time".

But in all three cases it may just as well be the tone of voice, etc.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 08-16-2008, 02:42 AM
dre2xl dre2xl is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Let's just say our two cats have been so tuned into what we're saying that we've sometimes wondered if they really do understand English...

even if we're speaking in a completely normal voice, and we're speaking only to each other (and not to cats), they seem to know when we talk about them. And when we start commenting how one of them needs to lose weight, the fat cat usually gives us a disgusted hurt look and leaves the room. it's uncanny.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 08-16-2008, 05:41 AM
neutron star neutron star is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth
He doesn't care too much about dinner time,


Have you verified that this is, indeed, a cat you're dealing with, and not, say, a rat with exceptionally long fur?
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 08-16-2008, 11:40 AM
metronome metronome is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
Ah, so cats are like teenagers that never grow up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by alice_in_wonderland
My SO's mom's cat understands. He does tricks like a dog. Sit. Stay. Shake a paw. Highfive. Roll Over.

She had time on her hands and trained him. It's freeky.
Wow. Just... wow. I would not have thought that was possible. Mine can't even grasp the concept of, "When I scratch the couch, my humans move me to this tall cylinder and run my claws over it. I should scratch here instead."
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 08-16-2008, 12:03 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 22,775
Quote:
Originally Posted by neutron star


Have you verified that this is, indeed, a cat you're dealing with, and not, say, a rat with exceptionally long fur?
He's a Bengal. They are a little weird. He gets "free feed" dry food and one small can a day.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 08-16-2008, 12:48 PM
633squadron 633squadron is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whack-a-Mole
I believe they can understand speech. Cats are trainable to do a variety of things and respond to verbal commands.

I think the issue is they are by nature not as "programmed" as dogs to accept training easily.
I've always believed based on my small knowledge of evolution and biology, that dogs are more easily "trained" by something with more "dominance". Domestic dogs descend from wild pack animals that instinctively give way before the pack's "alpha". As the human, you (should) become the alpha. I've seen situations in which the presumed "master" didn't do this right and the dog became a *big* problem.

Although some cat species are pack animals, many more are solitary hunters. I suspect that domestic cats came from a much more solitary type of hunter. I've even read somewhere that cats weren't "domesticated" in the sense that humans grabbed wild ones and bred them to be domestic.

Instead, the cats started living in human environments, most likely in Egypt, and mostly likely because they hunted the rodents that attacked stored grain. The Egyptians let them remain because they were better protection for rodents than anything else. Over time, human and cat began to tolerate each other.

So dogs instinctively want to figure out what you want them to do, while cats just co-habitate with the humans that feed them. Perhaps cats in the wild were sufficiently non-solitary that they want company, and humans provide it. Of course, different varieties of dogs have varying levels of intelligence, depending on the breeding that we've done.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 08-17-2008, 11:29 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,601
Here is an interesting article.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 08-18-2008, 07:16 AM
Lobelia Overhill Lobelia Overhill is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
My car Sammi understood words, I can remember catching her about to jump on my bed, I said "you wait till I put your blankey down missy!" and she sat down and waited till I put her blankey down before jumping onto the bed.

I'd a cat years ago who could tell the time. I'd tell him "be back by 9!" when I was letting him out, and he would be. Didn't matter what time I said he always appeared at the right time. I hid in the kitchen [no lights on] and at the appointed time, bing he jump up on the window sill ...

I, for one, welcome our feline overlords
__________________
"Did I not just use the word 'puzzling'?"
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 02-09-2013, 09:11 PM
FuzzyOgre FuzzyOgre is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Mine understand their names, come when called, and one will even go find the other if I ask. Both know what it means, its just that he generally doesn't care to do it.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 02-09-2013, 09:58 PM
the O the O is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
My cat doesn't understand words, but she will run a block when i press the ON button of the electric can opener.
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 02-09-2013, 09:59 PM
saje saje is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Where did you dig up an almost five year old thread?

And yes, my cats understand words. Though they aren't as easily trainable as most dogs, they can learn. the work ethic isn't always there though, kinda like with certain kinds of employees.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 02-09-2013, 11:06 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Keeping my password unchanged
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
.... I even taught one of our ferrets to sit up on the command. Since they have teeny little attention spans, I only ever bothered with the one. )
Tell me about it. I keep amoebas.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 02-09-2013, 11:15 PM
Bob X Bob X is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Sharon was the only one in the house allowed to feed Badcat (Badcat had a name, but nobody used it) since Badcat would otherwise beg multiple bowls of food throughout the day. But once I came back late, and Sharon wasn't around, and Badcat was mewling quite piteously by his bowl, even though he knew that this was generally no use. So I pointed my finger at him, and said "You tell me the truth now! Did Sharon already feed you?"

And he articulated, quite plainly, "NOOOOOOOOO!"
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:16 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.