Meow meow meow meow.....

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Mike Cleven

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May 18, 2002, 6:46:30 PM5/18/02
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Anyone else hear of the research study; I think in England; on how
meowing in cats developed in response to human behaviour? The guy who
published the study was interviewed on the CBC Afternoon Show (radio)
here the other day and it was pretty interesting. Some obvious things -
short, screechy meows are alarms, soft, sweet ones are begging etc. -
but he actually managed to quantify these observations apparently.

He did maintain that cats don't meow with each other, but use other
forms of cat-language; and that meowing is primarily a cat-human thing
which cats developed to get us to do what they want (which is what cats
are about, of course); IIRC he studied wild cats as well as domestics,
and African wild cats (the domestic cat's "immediate ancestor") as well.

I differ with him on the no-meowing-between-cats thing, though; I've
heard cats "talk" to each other for a while, and it's an interesting mix
of meows, burrs and growls, trills and other noises; but definitely
including meows; but these _were_ highly domesticated cats so you have
to suppose that meowing would be part of their "dialect".

Anyway, not sure where to look or how to search for these guys' paper;
supposedly it was legitimate.

--
Mike Cleven
http://www.cayoosh.net (Bridge River Lillooet history)
http://www.hiyu.net (Chinook Jargon phrasebook/history)

Larry G

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May 19, 2002, 3:30:19 AM5/19/02
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"Mike Cleven" <iro...@bigfoot.com> wrote in message ...

> Anyone else hear of the research study; I think in England; on how
> meowing in cats developed in response to human behaviour? The guy who
> published the study was interviewed on the CBC Afternoon Show (radio)
> here the other day and it was pretty interesting. Some obvious things -
> short, screechy meows are alarms, soft, sweet ones are begging etc. -
> but he actually managed to quantify these observations apparently.

This all reminds me of when my cat had her kittens. She called her kittens
to her by making a grunting/hissing type sound. I tried to call them to me
to no avail, but when I tried as best I could to mimic her grunting/hissing
sound, they came right to me.

Ever since this incident, I'm firmly convinced that animals do indeed have
"language" or at least some kind of communication system, though we as
humans may not always understand it. I'm also convinced that cats usually
understand at least the basic language of their humans, they just don't
always do what their told, haha.

My grandma's neighbor had a cat that would call her "mama". That was at
least her meow a lot of the time.

I wonder if anyone has done any serious study on animal "language" and has
tried to decipher if any "dialects" exist, (Stop laughing. <g>) or at least
studied an animla to be able to discern "words" or animal equivalent of the
idea (grunting, hissing, meowing, whatever). ;-) It is an interesting
subject. They at least have some kind of verbal communication it would
seem, IMHO. I know others may differ in their opinions.

Larry

Yusuf B Gursey

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May 19, 2002, 3:54:02 AM5/19/02
to
Mike Cleven <iro...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
: Anyone else hear of the research study; I think in England; on how
: meowing in cats developed in response to human behaviour? The guy who
: published the study was interviewed on the CBC Afternoon Show (radio)
: here the other day and it was pretty interesting. Some obvious things -
: short, screechy meows are alarms, soft, sweet ones are begging etc. -
: but he actually managed to quantify these observations apparently.

: He did maintain that cats don't meow with each other, but use other
: forms of cat-language; and that meowing is primarily a cat-human thing
: which cats developed to get us to do what they want (which is what cats
: are about, of course); IIRC he studied wild cats as well as domestics,
: and African wild cats (the domestic cat's "immediate ancestor") as well.

: I differ with him on the no-meowing-between-cats thing, though; I've

well, at least their "love songs" involve some sort of meowing, IMHO.

OTOH cats do meow differently to humans, I agree. one of our cats, which
is very "talkitive" seems to even mimick the accentuation of turkish
sentences (being in a turkish speaking home) in her series of meows aimed
at us.

on the lighter side, in terms of popular reading, I enjoyed "how to talk
to your cat", which was a useful and fun guide ot cat gestures and sounds.

: heard cats "talk" to each other for a while, and it's an interesting mix

benlizross

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May 19, 2002, 5:55:22 PM5/19/02
to

Nobody's laughing. Lots of work on this kind of thing. In birds, it goes
back at least to Marler's discovery of chaffinch dialects in the 1960s.
Fairly recently there has been detailed study of the call repertoire of
certain monkey species and the information conveyed (e.g. "snake
approaching" vs. "predatory bird approaching"). I'm sure others will be
able to give you more exact references.

Ross Clark

Peter T. Daniels

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May 19, 2002, 7:35:12 AM5/19/02
to
Larry G wrote:
>
> I'm firmly convinced that animals do indeed have
> "language" or at least some kind of communication system,

That rather begs the question, doesn't it?
--
Peter T. Daniels gram...@att.net

Yusuf B Gursey

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May 19, 2002, 1:06:24 PM5/19/02
to
Larry G <thela...@yahoo.com> wrote:
: "Mike Cleven" <iro...@bigfoot.com> wrote in message ...

:> Anyone else hear of the research study; I think in England; on how
:> meowing in cats developed in response to human behaviour? The guy who
:> published the study was interviewed on the CBC Afternoon Show (radio)
:> here the other day and it was pretty interesting. Some obvious things -
:> short, screechy meows are alarms, soft, sweet ones are begging etc. -
:> but he actually managed to quantify these observations apparently.

: This all reminds me of when my cat had her kittens. She called her kittens
: to her by making a grunting/hissing type sound. I tried to call them to me
: to no avail, but when I tried as best I could to mimic her grunting/hissing
: sound, they came right to me.

: Ever since this incident, I'm firmly convinced that animals do indeed have
: "language" or at least some kind of communication system, though we as
: humans may not always understand it. I'm also convinced that cats usually
: understand at least the basic language of their humans, they just don't
: always do what their told, haha.

: My grandma's neighbor had a cat that would call her "mama". That was at
: least her meow a lot of the time.

yes, I have heard much of cats mimicking human sounds.

"mama" in turkish means "chow", a command my cats understand all too well.
one of them, also a voracious eater and a chatterbox, mimicks the sound
when she wants food (that is very often).

: I wonder if anyone has done any serious study on animal "language" and has

Mike Cleven

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May 19, 2002, 3:39:30 PM5/19/02
to
Yusuf B Gursey wrote:
> Mike Cleven <iro...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
> : Anyone else hear of the research study; I think in England; on how
> : meowing in cats developed in response to human behaviour? The guy who
> : published the study was interviewed on the CBC Afternoon Show (radio)
> : here the other day and it was pretty interesting. Some obvious things -
> : short, screechy meows are alarms, soft, sweet ones are begging etc. -
> : but he actually managed to quantify these observations apparently.
>
> : He did maintain that cats don't meow with each other, but use other
> : forms of cat-language; and that meowing is primarily a cat-human thing
> : which cats developed to get us to do what they want (which is what cats
> : are about, of course); IIRC he studied wild cats as well as domestics,
> : and African wild cats (the domestic cat's "immediate ancestor") as well.
>
> : I differ with him on the no-meowing-between-cats thing, though; I've
>
> well, at least their "love songs" involve some sort of meowing, IMHO.

Sort of "mmrrowing" from what I remember of various tomcats in heat that
used to sit outside the parents' bedroom window calling for our housecat
to come and play. Not a "mee-ow" but a "mrrrrrrrrraaaaawwwwwww" ("come
and get it, baby").

Just checked CBC Radio's website; the show was "As It Happens", a
national news-documentary show that intersperses itself with the
dinnertime National newscast; their summary of the Friday May 15 show
has "Just about everyone with a feline for a friend has suspected that
cats are skilled manipulators. But now there's scientific proof. Nick
Nicastro is a graduate student at Cornell University."

The show is archived online as a RealPlayer item: on page
http://cbc.ca/insite/AS_IT_HAPPENS_TORONTO/2002/5/14.html click on
"Listen to Part 1 of As It Happens"; Part 1 of the show is 1/2 hour long
but if you ffwd to about 21 minutes into the show you'll find the
cat/Nicastro item/interview.

"As It Happens" has all kinds of crazy stuff on it. Friday's show
featured something about female trout faking orgasms......

>
> OTOH cats do meow differently to humans, I agree. one of our cats, which
> is very "talkitive" seems to even mimick the accentuation of turkish
> sentences (being in a turkish speaking home) in her series of meows aimed
> at us.

"Get me the raki", "I want some fish", "clean my catbox" etc.?

Yusuf B Gursey

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May 20, 2002, 12:27:41 AM5/20/02
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Mike Cleven <iro...@bigfoot.com> wrote:

raki?! the little lovable rascals are difficutl enough to manage sober!

:>
:> on the lighter side, in terms of popular reading, I enjoyed "how to talk

Steven H. Mesnick

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May 20, 2002, 1:38:53 AM5/20/02
to

> This all reminds me of when my cat had her kittens. She called her kittens
> to her by making a grunting/hissing type sound. I tried to call them to me
> to no avail, but when I tried as best I could to mimic her grunting/hissing
> sound, they came right to me.
[...]

> I wonder if anyone has done any serious study on animal "language" and has
> tried to decipher if any "dialects" exist, (Stop laughing. <g>) or at least
> studied an animla to be able to discern "words" or animal equivalent of the
> idea (grunting, hissing, meowing, whatever).

As an owner of, well, a ludicrous number of cats, I can tell
you that I have learned to speak a bit of "Domestic Feline".
I had a problem with a couple of cats trying to pilfer my dinner
until I learned to say "This is *my* prey -- stay away!" in Feline.
Now, I do that, and they run away terrified of The Big Alpha -- me.
No other sound will work. It's a low, guttural, "gargly" purr:
GGGGGHHHHHH.
This one *is* used between cats, and curiously, they *don't* use it over
food that I provide, only on actual prey (field mice, moles, birds,
etc.).

Steve Mesnick

The Keenans

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May 20, 2002, 10:09:09 AM5/20/02
to
Mike Cleven wrote:

>
> Steven H. Mesnick wrote:
> >>This all reminds me of when my cat had her kittens. She called her kittens
> >>to her by making a grunting/hissing type sound. I tried to call them to me
> >>to no avail, but when I tried as best I could to mimic her grunting/hissing
> >>sound, they came right to me.
> >
> > [...]
> >
> >>I wonder if anyone has done any serious study on animal "language" and has
> >>tried to decipher if any "dialects" exist, (Stop laughing. <g>) or at least
> >>studied an animla to be able to discern "words" or animal equivalent of the
> >>idea (grunting, hissing, meowing, whatever).

I seem to have discovered about four 'vocalizations' that dogs make.
They are: ' I dislike you' 'I like you' 'This is fun/ Let's play' 'Leave
me alone now I'm going to sleep". Humans can make these sounds as well
but they're hard to describe in the case of 'I dislike you'.

'I like you': Make eye contact with the dog and using just the first
half inch of your toungue make quick licking motions at him/her.(Three
or four flicks of the toungue maximum) this is accompanied by a
simultaneous but slight bobbing of the head as when people indicate a
direction using their head.

'This is fun/Let's play': This is a panting noise. Pant at about the
rate of 16 pants per five seconds. the rate of panting is important.

'Leave me alone/I'm going to sleep now': A big sigh. Fill your lungs
with air and let it out nuturally through the nose. By naturally I mean
don't ~push~ just let the air out.

I've experimented with various dogs. Once I ruined a party I went to
when I tried the 'I dislike you' signal. I was bored and it was the
first time I ever did it to a strange dog. If I had realized that she
was going to respond so hysterically I would'nt have done that to
"Yvette" her owner was ~not~ pleased and everyone else was kind of
freaked out. They had to put the dog in a bedroom where she calmed down
after a while

Of course this may be only the dog language of central upstate New York.
All of my dogs seem to understand it. The dog at the party lived 30
miles to the north of me.

-Duke Keenan

Jim Heckman

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May 20, 2002, 7:40:19 PM5/20/02
to

On 20-May-2002, The Keenans <make...@syr.edu> wrote:

> 'This is fun/Let's play': This is a panting noise. Pant at about the
> rate of 16 pants per five seconds. the rate of panting is important.

I wasn't aware of a 'play' vocalization, but everyone who's
worked with dogs is aware of the 'play bow'. To invite play, a
dog faces its companion, wags its tail and drops the front half
of its body to a prone position.

--
Jim Heckman

The Keenans

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May 20, 2002, 8:45:52 PM5/20/02
to

Next time you're playing with your dog, pay attention to see whether
he/she is panting.
then decide whether the play has been strenous enough to cause panting.
But a better experiment would be to try it. When you're going to take
you're dog out to play, broach the subject to him/her by the panting
signal and, see what responce you get. :)

Duke

>
> --
> Jim Heckman

Yusuf B Gursey

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May 23, 2002, 10:25:01 AM5/23/02
to
Larry G <thela...@yahoo.com> wrote:
: "Mike Cleven" <iro...@bigfoot.com> wrote in message ...

:> Anyone else hear of the research study; I think in England; on how
:> meowing in cats developed in response to human behaviour? The guy who
:> published the study was interviewed on the CBC Afternoon Show (radio)
:> here the other day and it was pretty interesting. Some obvious things -
:> short, screechy meows are alarms, soft, sweet ones are begging etc. -
:> but he actually managed to quantify these observations apparently.

: This all reminds me of when my cat had her kittens. She called her kittens
: to her by making a grunting/hissing type sound. I tried to call them to me
: to no avail, but when I tried as best I could to mimic her grunting/hissing
: sound, they came right to me.

: Ever since this incident, I'm firmly convinced that animals do indeed have
: "language" or at least some kind of communication system, though we as
: humans may not always understand it. I'm also convinced that cats usually
: understand at least the basic language of their humans, they just don't
: always do what their told, haha.


humans and cats have a basic communication problem: humans tends to look
each other in the eye, while cats usually interpret this as a sign of
hostility.

try looking slightly off, and if you do make eye contact, wink with both
eyes while slightly raising your chin. this is a sure ice breaker.

: My grandma's neighbor had a cat that would call her "mama". That was at

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