Showing posts with label communicating with pets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communicating with pets. Show all posts

Monday 29 April 2024

I ask my cat if he wants wet food and he answers

One of the difficulties for a cat caregiver is ensuring that your cat eats all or nearly all the wet food that you give him/her. You have to minimise waste both for financial reasons and because it is a pain in the bum getting rid of waste cat food. Giving it to the foxes is perhaps the best way if your neighbours don't know about it or accept it. Judging by the stories in the internet sometimes neighbours get angry about feeding wildlife by feeding feral cats. 

Anyway, this is how I minimise wet cat food waste. I ask him. Literally. Of course I also understand his body language and the signals he sends to me when he is interested in a meal but sometimes cats can fool their owners in this regard because they want a treat and not regular food. It is hard to tell the difference.

What I do is this:
  • I ask in English if he wants wet food
  • I place my cat on the kitchen counter - yes, I feed my cat on the kitchen counter. Some people do.
  • I hold up a sachet of wet food - a small sachet to make sure he eats all of it - near his face.
  • If he is interested and genuinely in the mood to eat because he is sufficiently hungry he head butts my hand. The one that is holding the cat food sachet. 
  • He wants it. I remove the food carefully to avoid splashing some on the counter. Sachets can he hard to tear open. I always use a knife to ensure that all the food is extracted. Waste not want not.
  • He eats all the food.
The key is his answer in the affirmative response by head butting my hand. This means he butts the top of his head against it. This is scent exchange - depositing scent on my hand but it also serves as a positive response to my question under these circumstances.

How did I get to this form of communication? It took several years of routine. As they say, patience is all when it comes to training a cat.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Saturday 26 August 2023

Men should talk to their dogs like women using baby-talk (this is science)!

Men should have the courage to speak to dog companions as if they are a woman using baby talk communicating with an infant. In that way the dog will better understand them and understand their commands! 

That is the finding of a study (see link below). It found that dogs respond to the kind of intonation and patterns of speech (prosody) employed by women (and of course men sometimes) when communicating with their infant child. 

This is a cross post from my main website. I think that it is interesting enough to post this twice but from a different perspective. In this article I am looking at what men might do to improve their communication with the family dog! They might learn from their female partner.

The video explains it all better than me as the voice over is by the lead researchers I believe

fMRI scans

They used fMRI scans to see how the brain reacted to both men and women talking to dogs in various styles such as adult-speak, dog-speak an infant-speak. They found that if a man spoke to a dog in human adult language the dog would respond less well as their brain would be activated to a lower level that it would be if a woman spoke to the same dog in baby language.

It is the way women emphasise certain parts of their speech, the rhythms and patterns and intonation of their speech when communicating with their young child and the family dog which triggers the dog's brain better than standard adult speech.

Although the emphasis is on women speaking to dogs in an infant language, one can imply from the research that cats would also respond to infant or cat-directed speech using a certain 'prosody'. 

Dog studies

In fact, it is certain that millions of women talk to their cats in exactly the same way that women talk to their dogs. The reason why the research is about dogs is because dogs are much easier to deal with in a research study. It's a typical problem: that there are far more scientific studies about dogs than there are about cats for this reason.


The word "prosody" means speaking in a certain way in which there are certain emphases on certain words and there is a certain pattern and intonation in the language.

Comment: it doesn't surprise me that dogs' brains showed more activity when women spoke to them in dog-directed baby talk because women talk to their babies all the time and more so than men normally. 

They become better skilled at communicating with infants and babies. As they are better skilled in communicating with infants and babies, they are more likely to speak in a way which is understood by the family dog. Dogs are better able to understand commands and requests in infant-directed speech. This is the domain of women normally.

More information: Anna Gergely et al, Dog brains are sensitive to infant- and dog-directed prosody, Communications Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-023-05217-y

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