Cat Sign Language is a form of communication used by cats. It is a combination of body language, vocalizations, and facial expressions. Cats use this form of communication to communicate with each other and with humans.
Cat Sign Language is an important tool for understanding cat behavior. It can help you to better communicate with your cat and to understand their needs. It can also help you to bond with your cat and build stronger relationships.
What is Cat Sign Language?
Sign language is a system of communication using visual gestures and signs, as used by deaf people. Animals cannot speak, but understand and communicate with gestures. So as a cat owner, it is important to know sign language and teach your own cats to communicate with cats well.
Pleasantly, Dr. Doolittle would be amused. The question is, can we actually use American Sign Language to talk to the animals and they to us? The retired teacher of American School for the Deaf Mrs. Kim Silva answered this, yes. Her interview video went viral on social media.
How To Teach Your Cat Sign Language
However, as it turns out, it is only the rare cat who can use signs, and only in an elementary way. Actually, cats don’t have our long digits or the same degree of maneuverability of their paws as we have of our hands. Additionally, cats don’t recognize language the way we do, whether it’s signed.
Facial, Hand and Body Expressions for Cat
Needless to say, generally cats respond to American Sign Language’s combination of facial expressions, hand movements, and overall body deviation. In this same way, they parse out hints from vocalized speech, picking out only what they deem relevant. That means they do not think in sentences.
Truly, for them, words are simply signaled about what is served to them or what you want them to do. In fact, there is little difference between a cat’s explanation of American Sign Language versus in homes where words are vocalized. Undoubtedly, since no voice is supplied, they recognize sign commands.
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Therefore, is the whole idea of teaching a cat to recognize American Sign Language pure idiocy? Actually, it is not. Moreover, there are a number of causes of why teaching cats some basic signs can be beneficial.
One is the satisfaction of time you spend with your pet and the excitement of that excellent moment when a new sign is learned.
Additionally, because there are cats who are already deaf or hard-of-hearing having sign language as the means of communicating can help to keep them connected to us.
How Cat Sign Language Works
According to Kim Silva, she loves cats, and that is a joy for her to communicate and sign with them. She is newly retired from her teaching profession at the American School for the Deaf.
Moreover, Ms. Silva had the time to devote herself to teaching her hearing cats to sign as part of her preparation for the arrival of a deaf cat that she adopted from a Texas rescue organization.
Firstly, in the course on how to teach your cat sign language, you can start using food as motivation. Holding treats in your hand, you can sign more so that the cats would understand that there are more snacks to be had.
If once the connection between the ‘more’ sign and its meaning is made, the lessons would be expanded. Walking backward from your cat, you would sign the name for various objects such as chairs or tables. In this way, increase your cats’ vocabulary.
Generally, the cats become used to doing certain tricks via their owners’ signing in order to receive treats, responding to sit, lay down, shake, and dance.
In that video, Ms. Silva was saying, “I can go on and on with them and others can sign with them, as well, with the cats understanding,” says Mrs. Silva. In addition, when she signals ‘finish,’ the cats recognize that their learning session is over, and they’re free to go.
Actually, the cats respond in ways that show their individual choice in responses to signing. The cats, even the shyest have also responded to learning sign language by interacting more with visitors.
Overall, she feels that one of her cats is exceptional. It has learned to put her paw to her mouth and then move her paw downward by her chest as a sign for ‘thanks’ after the food has been served.
All Cats Are Not the Same Cooperative
Honestly, signing does not attract to all cats. Mostly, the training sessions work well with kittens, though some learn signing at age seven. But no matter the age, she must be food-motivated in order to focus long sufficient for the connection between sign and its meaning to be made.
Finally, though, cats have learned specific signs and respond to them are doing more than passively receiving vocal or signed speech in bits and parts that matter only in terms of the edible goodies they receive. After cats learn to recognize sign language, they will become more interactive in general.
Can a cat learn sign language?
Yes, a cat can learn sign language. Cats are individuals and some may be more receptive to learning than others. However, it is certainly possible for a cat to learn sign language, given the right circumstances and training methods.
Do cats respond to sign language?
Some cat owners claim that their pets are able to pick up on some hand gestures and body language cues. One study found that cats were more likely to respond to nonverbal cues, such as hand gestures and body language, than to verbal commands. However, the study did not specifically test for sign language comprehension.
Cat’s are excellent at reading human body language. They are very attuned to the subtleties of human facial expressions and body posture.
How do you read cat signals?
By studying a cat’s body language and facial expressions, you can get a good idea of what they are trying to communicate. Common signals that a cat is feeling happy and relaxed include a soft, slightly open mouth, gently blinking eyes, and relaxed ears. On the other hand, a cat who is feeling angry or threatened may have their mouth open wide, their eyes wide and unblinking, and their ears flattened against their head.
Cat Sign Language: Final Thoughts
If they’re using sign language, they’re able to use their senses such as hearing and vision. At the same time, that’s really stimulating to their intellect and they will pick up and watch for signs, making it much more meaningful to them.
Moreover, if they were simply conditioned to respond, this would not change their personality as it does. It is fascinating to see that their personality changes and they can become very friendly, even if they’re older.
Finally, it is very important to learn how to teach your cat sign language and would like to see more people signing with their cats, who want to build up communication but are unable to understand human speech.
Dr. John Morris, DVM is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who has seven years of experience in feline medicine, dermatology, and behavior. He also enjoys volunteering at a local NGO that supports literacy programs for children and adults. In his free time, he enjoys fostering kittens, traveling, vegan cooking, hiking, and biking. Learn more about Justin here.