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Name: Dylan
Status: Student
Grade: K-3
Date: 1/5/2005 

I was searching about information on cedar and dogs and I came across this site and a previous question. The answer stated that cedar beds should be fine, but my lab came down with serious paralysis of the stomach and intestines required surgery. He is now on Reglan. The only thing different that we could think of was the addition of a cedar bed about 2 weeks prior to his illness. Also, he did not "like" sitting on it and outright refused once he got back from the vet's. Is this all a coincidence? We got rid of it anyway - but if this a problem I want to know about it.

Hi Dylan!

It all depends... upon what we call talking. We from the human species (all animals are classified into different species, we are also animals from the species called "homo sapiens" (all the species have their names spelled in latin, an old old language. Homo sapiens means "intelligent man" or "man that can learn".

Now we, the men can talk. We have special organs in the body that allows us to talk. Since there are different cultures, there are also different languages: english, french, spanish,german and so on. Another thing is understanding. Men can talk and can understand each other. They have very special brain properties that allows understanding, thinking, reasoning... Men (and women of course) are very special animals, unique actually. If 2 persons that speak different languages met, at the beginning they dont understand each other, but with gestures and things like that, they begun to learn each other words and finally they will learn each other language. So there are 2 different things: talking and understanding. In a way both are needed to communicate.

Now the other animals, like the cat that you asked. Think about the parrot, it talks? Maybe we can say yes, if we teach a parrot (or similar bird) he will say words and even phrases. Does it understand the meaning of the words he "talks" or we talk to it? People that lives with them, or study them say that it understands simple things related to its life. As far as talking in a similar way to men, parrots and similar birds are the only ones that can imitate the pronounciation of some words. Other birds sing and some sing very beautifully. Many learn different melodies. And communication?

Surely the animals can communicate and do so in different ways. Some bees, or ants and other insects communicate by odors or scents. Almost every kind of animal expels sounds to communicate with others. Even the dolphins and whales. And the cat? Or the dog?

They dont have voices the way we have, still they communicate between themselves and between us. Barking and meowing have many different sounds that differ following if dogs or cats wish to transmit joy, sadness, fear, angry and other emotions. These (and other) animals are still poorly studied, but we know that the sounds (or voices) mostly communicate emotions. They do that with sounds and some gesture of its bodies. For example for the cat i can give you a "vocabulary" (common to all cats born any place): moving the tail: depending the speed, means fear or/ anger; licking the lips with the tongue: i am hungry! spanking a little one (kitty) with a paw: go away! closing the eyes very slowly in front of you: i love you! (you can answer the same way) purring: it the universal way of happiness and love (mostly the times) and so on...

Thanks to ask for NEWTON!


As a owner of four cats and with nine in our family totally, I can say beyond a shadow of any doubt that cats communicate very well with one another. They do not talk like humans, but their body posture, ear position and facial expressions are easy to read, even by humans.

Cats learn to communicate with humans and often use vocal sounds as part of that communication. My siamese and burman breeds "talk" with humans by using cat meows to express food wants and to show affection. If I call their name, they both respond with a vocal answer as if they were human. However, I study their facial expressions to determine if they are under stress or are in a playful mood.

Cats, like all species, have different intelligent abilities so some of our cats do not communicate well with humans well. They do well enought with other cats, however.

Study your cat's behavior and have fun learning to communicate with it. Keep in mind, cats will learn tricks just like dogs and will copy human behaviors, so pay attention!

Steve Sample

Hello Dylan!!

You are asking a very interesting and complex question. The most basic answer is yes, cats do talk, but not like we think of talking. Let me explain.

First, it is important to understand that cats don't talk like we do (as you know) but rather, they meow and use body language to talk to eachother and to us. It is also important to understand that the way a cat will "talk" or communicate to a human is different than the way he or she will talk to another cat. Lets first talk about how cats can communicate with each other.

When a cat wants to talk to another cat, it will rarely meow, which is not what you would think, right? Rather, cats talk to each other using body language, and other methods of communcation. For example, if a cat feels scared, he or she will puff up its tail, and the hairs on the cats back will stand up straight. If a cat wants to say hello to another cat (in a friendly way) he or she will slowly walk up to the other cat and they will touch noses. If a cat wants to let another cat know that he is submissive to the other cat, he or she will lower his or her head. There are lots and lots of different ways that cats talk to each other, and there are many books that you can get from a library that will show pictures of what different positions or signals mean.

So what about all this meowing? Well, cats tend to meow when they want to communcate with a human. Usually, they meow when they want to get your attention, to show you something or to let you know they are hungry, upset, etc. Cats also communicate with people like they communicate with other cats. For instance, if your kitty roles onto its back and stretches out, it probably it trying to tell you that he wants a belly rub. Sometimes they growl, hiss or tell you they want to be left alone.

So in summary, the answer again is that cats can talk, just not like you and I talk. They are very smart animals!! There are lots of books out there that you should look into that will tell you all about what your cat's behavior is telling you!!!

Good luck, and again, that is a great question.

Susie Sample, BS
Biomedical Engineer
Veterinary Student
University of Wisconsin, Madison
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