How to Teach Your Cat to Talk

Two Methods:Understanding Cat CommunicationTeaching Your Cat a Trick

Unlike dogs, cats have not historically been trained to perform tasks for people. They do not understand punishment, but do respond to positive reinforcement.[1] In fact, you probably already have taught your cat to talk, in some way. Cats are not naturally inclined to meow, but have learned to because they realize their owners will respond to it.[2]

Method 1
Understanding Cat Communication

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    Recognize the meow. Cats can make as many as 16 different meows. Paying attention to the different sounds can help you better communicate with your cat.
    • A short meow is typically a greeting.
    • Multiple meows signal excitement
    • A mid-pitch meow is a request, likely for food.
    • A deep “Mrow” is usually a complaint.
    • A high pitch “Rroww!” is an indication of anger or pain.
    • A long drawn out “mrrroww” is usually a demand.[3]
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    Understand what the meow is about. In nature, cats only meow as kittens to get attention for their mothers. When they realize you do not respond to their other signals, they learn to meow. Often the meow is a way to communicate something the cat wants, but it can have other meanings as well.
    • Most frequently your cat’s meow is trying to articulate a request. A meow often means that it wants food, attention, or to be allowed into a room.
    • A meow can also signal distress. Cats vocalize when they are in heat, lonely, stressed, angry, or in pain. They also become more vocal when they get older.
    • Other times a meow is a simple greeting similar to a “hello.”[4]
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    Pay attention to nonverbal cues. Some of the most important ways that cats communicate are through body language. Cats, for example, have a complex language of signals that they make with their tails.
    • When a cat looks you in the eyes and makes a long, slow blink, they are showing affection. This is sometimes compared to a kiss.
    • A cat approaching you with its tail in the air is a greeting that suggests your cat is happy to see you. This has been compared to a handshake.[5]
    • If the fur on your cats hair is standing up, this is a sign that it is angry or afraid.
    • When your cat's tail is low, or between its legs, it is insecure or anxious.
    • A tail thrashing back and forth is a sign that your cat is angry. The faster it moves it back and forth, the angrier it is.[6]

Method 2
Teaching Your Cat a Trick

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    Make some time alone with your cat. Cats are easily distracted, so you should create a quiet and calm environment. Place your cat on the table in front of you and pet it to put it at ease.[7]
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    Get some treats. Place the treats on the table to get your cat’s attention. Cats are more likely to respond to treats that they aren’t accustomed to. Try to get something new.[8]
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    Meow. Keep meowing until your cat meows and then give your cat a treat, and pet it. Continue as long as the cat is willing to participate.
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    Repeat until your cat has learned the trick. After your cat no longer seems to respond, take a break. Try again the following day. Repeat every day until your cat regularly responds when you meow.
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    Be nice. If you get frustrated and begin to be mean to your cat, it will get stressed and be less likely to respond. Cats do not respond to force. You must use positive reinforcement to encourage behavior.[9]


  • Ultimately your cat is its own master. It does not understand the idea of obeying others. It might choose to perform your trick if it comes to believe that doing so would be in its best interest, but it also might never perform a trick. Keep your expectations low and do not try to force your cat to do something it is not interested in.


  • Never scold or hit your cat. They will not appreciate or respond to it.

Article Info

Categories: Cat Training