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Old 01-20-2006, 10:17 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 41,961
Cats are quite intelligent enough to associate particular sounds with particular objects or events, such as "out," "food," etc.

I tell this story and I expect skepticism about it, though it's the truth: We had a cat once who mastered speaking about 20 English words (insofar as feline vocalizing equipment will match a human language), apparently because she was discouraged and disgusted at our inability to learn the meaning of her different calls. She would use "aaooouuuuwww" for "out," "ppfffooooooo" for "food" (the "ppfff" mimicking a spitting sound she apparently indended for /f/), "mmmmmeeeeehhhww" for "milk," and several others to represent, insofar as she could, the English terms for things she wanted. Apparently she figured that if we were too dumb to learn Cat, she would have to master English. And it was bemusing for me to have a short conversation with my cat, in the same language!

Our cat, too. You may say I'm projecting human qualities to cat-speak, but I swear our cat Midnight can say "Out!" and "Ham!" Someone heard Midnight say "Ham!" over the telephone and instantly recognized the word. ("Ham" means any kind of lunchmeat, including sliced turkey).

I knew a cat that responded to its name, no matter who said it.