Monday 8 May 2023

Bimodal communication with domestic cats

Try bimodal communication with a cat that doesn't know you to get a speedier response. The video - sorry it's dull - explains the title. It is about getting a speedier response from a cat by using two or more ways to communicate with. The conclusion is the result of a study by a group of French scientists. Perhaps any decent cat caregiver would tell you the same thing from personal experience.

The French scientists investigated communicating with rescue cats in a cat café in France. They measured how long it took for the cats to approach the human participants. 

They found that if the participants held out their hand silently or offered a hand with some vocal communication the cats were more likely and more speedily encouraged to come over and interact with the human. 

"Bimodal" means two different forms (2 modes) and in this case it refers to a vocal communication together with body language and actions.

It's a way of eliciting a speedier response and the scientist concluded in their words "this suggests that cats are more sensitive to visual and bimodal communication initiated by an unfamiliar human."

I would suggest, too, that it is also useful for humans with whom the cat is familiar. It is likely that this happens anyway.

For example, when I take a walk with my cat outside, I call his name and tap my jacket to encourage him to follow me. He associates the tapping with the request to come to me. I think this is the kind of thing they are referring to as this is bimodal communication.

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