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The Art of Communication


TalkingNow that the bewhiskered ones have been with us for a few weeks we are starting to build up a translation dictionary, both ways, cat-human and human-cat.

There doesn’t seem to be a universal cat language. Each cat that I have had the honour of cohabiting with speaks with its own words and accent.

Kenickie, the light of my life, who now resides with my parents in sunny England, had a voice all of his own. Living with him and his brother, Zuko, for 10 years I became totally attuned to them. I knew every meow, every pose and facial expression. They each had very distinct meows for ‘food’, ‘cuddle, please’ and ‘open the door, I need to go out and pee!’.

KennieMaybe I will never become quite so attuned to Zé and Spock, Kennie and I were a special match, but the process of understanding each other has definitely begun.

(Thanks to my mum for the lovely photo of Kennie, right)


If Zé gets on me, seemingly for a cuddle, but will not settle then I know he is hungry. If I don’t get the message, he mews plaintively at my husband when he walks by. If I am not sitting down for a mock-cuddle I get my toes chewed instead, which is Zé’s other food-requesting technique. It’s not quite so pleasant.

Spock, on the other hand, just plants himself in front of a human (any human will do) and howls like a hairy banshee until some food appears in his vicinity.


My husband is brazilian and so speaks portuguese. Although english is our ‘at home’ language he is teaching the beasts some key words in his native tongue.

Spock now understands both ‘no’ and ‘para’, said to him every time he resets the subtitles or dubbing speed when we’re watching films. I use my laptop to watch, so when he launches himself onto the keyboard things go wrong!

He’s a clever lad. When we ask him where Zé is he actually starts to look. So it seems that he knows both his name and his brother’s already.

winkZé is a little different. I don’t want to call him dumb, but he is a bit slow with the language comprehension. He doesn’t respond to his name. He doesn’t know ‘no’, ‘stop’ or ‘para’. When we want him to stop doing something we have to physically move him…which usually leads to a cuddle.

Hmmmm…maybe he isn’t so dumb after all!


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