Multiple Cats And Cat Communication Question.

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by coffeechick, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. coffeechick

    coffeechick Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    I'm new to multiple cats. For the longest time, I thought cats did not get along with each other. That they weren't social animals, and only tolerated...I dunno, it doesn't make sense now.

    Because I have two littermates now, and I watch them doing their thing all the time. Their adorable 'competitive grooming'--they don't always take turns, so they both groom the other's face at the same time--and their slightly creepy 'moving the same way at the same time'.

    Today, though, I encountered something that I can't make sense of.

    El 'announced' or 'greeted' me [still working out her language--it's a process], then, a bit later, Morti came into the room.

    El meowed like she did when she saw me.

    Cats don't meow to each other, though, right?

    My question, I guess, is: people with more than one cat--what just happened? Did El greet Morti, or did El announce Morti's presence to the rest of us?

    Do your cats ever meow to each other?

    Is this another thing I 'know' that's wrong?
     
  2. danteshuman

    danteshuman TCS Member Super Cat

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    I would bet El felt the attention slipping and wanted to make sure you were paying attention to her (not Morti.) So she meowed again.
     
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  3. dahli6

    dahli6 TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    My cats barely meow. There is a lot of them and I am almost fluent in eye movement and body language, sometimes I miss nuances. Usually they meow for our attention specifically; open the door or notice me.
    That doesn't mean that your El is doing it wrong. From household to household cat language is different because environment and circumstances are different.
    My cats respond to Chinese, Korean and English. They don't speak verbally other than growls and squeaks, the only one who doesn't "speak" body language is exclusively is the blind cat and he has adapted to listening to body movements and sometimes makes chatter noises to determine distance.
    El may have adapted a verbal greeting for both housemates; you and the other cat.
     
  4. Norachan

    Norachan Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My cats talk to each other all the time.

    They have the meows they make when their buddy walks into the room, the meows they make when they can't find their buddy, the meow they make to announce they've caught something or got a toy they want the others to pay attention to. They've also got a little warning growl they make to let the others know they've seen a dog or something else suspicious outside.

    They definitely communicate with each other much more than they do with me.
     
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  5. coffeechick

    coffeechick Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Danteshuman:

    I didn't even know Morti was there. She's the quiet one. Even her 'throw please, want fetch' meows are tiny, which is adorable because she seems unusually large compared to El.

    Loudest I've heard her was the other day when she let out this grief-striken wail. Scared me because I thought she was hurt.

    She was upset because her chirpy bird toy wouldn't chirp when she threw it.

    Dahli6:

    I'm still working on body language, because these two are different, not just from my last, but from each other.

    The obvious is easy, but El? El is just odd. She wags her tail--big, exaggerated windshield-wiper flops--when she's purring and seeking affection.

    She also seems to respond to certain musical notes, which is hard for me because I don't know music. My partner discovered that early on, and can get her to respond to specific whistles.

    Your blind cat sounds clever.

    Norachan:

    You list these sounds, and I can hear most of them in our house's language. Or variations of them. "HiHi!" and "Please throw" and "I am impatient!"

    I haven't worked out everything yet, and the meow at Morti threw me, because I really thought that was El's greeting.

    It probably is. And now I have more to learn about cats.
     
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  6. dahli6

    dahli6 TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    I have been watching these guys for years. Sometimes I plug my ears and just watch them interact.
    Petie is clever but he has been blind since he was a kitten so it is just normal for him. For 2 years it didn't occur to me that he could not interpret growls or yowls. He seemed so easily offended but the noises weren't always directed at him and sometimes when they were, they were warnings but he thought they were attacks. My husband was watching him one day before a fight started and tipped me off. I was able to make Petie feel more secure and he doesn't fight anymore, he still doesn't know what a warning growl is. Now he seems to think that when another cat hisses or growls they are making noise so he can find them to play! Some of the older cats play statue when he gets close, even if he can smell them he doesn't actually know they are there. It is pretty interesting to watch.
     
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  7. coffeechick

    coffeechick Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    How did you help him feel more secure?
     
  8. dahli6

    dahli6 TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    When two cats were growling at each other I just called him to me and petted him while they jumped each other. It was after they were neutered so testosterone was still in the air. He quickly learned that if I was home I would protect him and now if he gets scared he stands between my feet because no one messes with the biggest cat in the house(me).
    I crated him for a little while and eventually he even learned to ignore other cats when they got annoyed, unless he is trying to play with them.
     
  9. 1CatOverTheLine

    1CatOverTheLine TCS Member Top Cat

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    As a clowder grows - both chronologically and in size - communication between cats increases almost geometrically. Adding a third cat to a pair will bear witness to this in many cases, but with four or more, you'll see a markéd increase in both verbal and non-verbal communication among the cats. What's only a trifle more baffling is that, as the size of the clowder increases, petty squabbles seem to diminish.

    Three cats will complain about one another, and can sometimes evidence feeding anxiety, territoriality and related issues. Ten cats are far more accepting of one another, and likewise somewhat surprisingly, will actually begin to go out of their way to help one another. When White Tip came in with her Son, Oz, she was cat number eight. She made only two sounds - a raspy, "I want..." and a repeated humming trill after she'd eaten. Five years later, her 'vocabulary' embraces communicative vocalisations such as, "wake up, there are treats," "brown bird outside," "colourful bird outside!" "Where are you?" (distinctive sounds when calling her Son and her Friends, Bob and Peanut), "that's my chair," (always to Scottiecat), "pick me up for bunts." and "can I sit here?" (plus a few others as well), and her body language has changed (and grown) as well - she was initially defensive and antisocial, and now has specific greetings for her big Friends, for her Son, and for several other cats with whom she seldom interacts directly except at mealtimes.

    @Norachan is quite right - the do communicate with one another - and teach one another as well. Moo Shu, my Snowshoe, has taught (actively taught, by repetition of action) other cats to turn on the water faucet in the kitchen, and she 'herds' Bob out of the way when I'm carrying water bowls or food bowls (because he tends to simply flop down on the floor in the most inconvenient spot, and zone out). Peanut wakes his buddy Lance up for dinner (they've known one another more than twenty years, and Lance now sleeps most of the day and night away), and Scottiecat calls Puff to dinner as well, if he's not already in the middle of the dining room floor, waiting.

    As to the question posed here:

    Yes - "cats don't meow at one another," is a truism, and not a truth. Two cats together will seldom vocalise to one another, unless they've been together many years, and are accustomed to people 'meowing' at them, but as a household grows, so does the need for - and the desire for - increased communication.
    .
     
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  10. coffeechick

    coffeechick Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    That's amazing and surprising. And slightly scary, because cats can teach other cats.

    Thank you.
     
  11. mschauer

    mschauer TCS Member Top Cat

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    I'm convinced that cats have a language that is understood by other cats so I think it is reasonable to assume they would use that language to communicate with each other.

    The reason I think they do have a language is because I make home-made cat food and while I'm making it Zara will almost always be at my feet begging, vocally, for a hand out. She may do that for some time until I get to the point where I have something I can give her. While she is begging though it will be only her in the kitchen. As soon as it becomes obvious that I am going to give her something there is a subtle change in her vocalizing and, lo and behold, all of the other kitties come on the run. I think it is obvious there is a difference between her "I want food" meow and her "I'm about to get food" meow. In this case she not be meaning to call the others but they clearly understand what she is saying. Isn't that what language is?

    But, for them to actually communicate with one another directly they would have to have an understanding that when they make a particular sound it will result in an particular response from the others and that they consciously make the sound in order to elicit that response. It could just be that the others have learned that when Zara makes a particular sound food is to be had without Zara being aware that she is communicating that.

    For whatever it is worth... :lol:
     
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  12. nahui

    nahui TCS Member Young Cat

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    :yeah: Until three months ago, I thought the same thing! I was actually worried when we brought Tita home because I was so sure Gato would not tolerate her in his territory. Well, they proved me wrong! They are now the best of pals and do "talk" to each other. It is sort of a trill they use to greet each other and to get the other to play.

    Also, a few days ago Tita went into another room and Gato kept meowing until she came back to play. I guess they do have their own language.
     
  13. coffeechick

    coffeechick Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Nahui:

    All my well-crafted arguments against two fell apart when the shelter basically said 'hey, two for one?' about these two.

    They were even in the same cage together.

    It would have been wrong to separate them.
     
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  14. Kieka

    Kieka Snowshoe Servant Staff Member Forum Helper

    My theory, cats are highly adaptive survivors. Outdoors, they don't communicate vocally as a means to survive. Talking when predators are around is likely to get cats killed. But when cats came into homes they found that meowing and other sounds get the humans attention. Also why you don't see cats in smaller home talking much when they get attention without it and why cats talk more in homes where the behavior is rewarded with more attention/food. Once you get into the homes with larger amounts of cats its like families with a lot of kids. The loudest gets the attention so they do talk more to get more of the attention in the home. Also to communicate with each other as it becomes habit. Snowshoes are just special and talk to themselves.

    I have a home of three. Nightfury only talks when he wants something and we don't notice; "let me out" and "look what I caught" are the main two. Link is the aforementioned Snowshoe and never stops talking. Rocket is quiet as can be unless you are petting her or she is playing. Her too sounds equate to "a little to the left" in petting and "I am tough" when playing with Link. Link will yell at us to tell us Rocket wants in or out of a door. It is fairly common for him to come in the cat door and then yell running back to the door until the slow human catches on to go open the door for Rocket who doesn't like going through the cat door. So I imagine some of Rocket's noise is countered by Link being overprotective of her.

    I am sure @1CatOverTheLine is right and if I added more there would be more communication between my cats. Right now, they mostly brush against each other or use body language. But they each have a very distinct place in the home without much overlap. The few times Link steals a lap Fury wants, Fury just sits on Links head as his way of expressing displeasure.
     
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  15. nahui

    nahui TCS Member Young Cat

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    Well, that's a good argument to adopt them together for sure! Initially we brought Tita home because we found her on the street, but the intention was to find her someone to adopt her. We definitely did not intend on keeping her because we already had a cat and I was sure he would not do well with another cat.... Yeah, I was soooooo wrong!
     
  16. coffeechick

    coffeechick Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Yeah. I didn't even have a chance.

    I was woken up, taken to PetCo [the shelter has a small branch there], and we met these two cats that I thought were done growing.

    And I was apprehensive and sleepy and just not sure. They were both in one pen, even though there were empty pens [sterile and ready to go].

    The guy just...offered it. No special event or anything. Just, "We normally only do this with adult cats that have been together for a while, but I can waive the fee for one if you get both of them."

    It was the right choice. I get that now. But it felt very unreal at the time.

    And now I have litter-sisters that do confusing, adorable things. Like meowing at each other.
     
  17. foxxycat

    foxxycat TCS Member Top Cat

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    Yes they tend to meow at us more than anything. I am down to 2 cats. And the elder that passed let us know with meows what she wanted. She had a baby squalling loud obnoxious scream if there was an intruder in the kitchen-we have had strays come in to eat and she lets us know they are not welcome. She did this screaming when I first found her in the shelter.
    Honeybee wags her tail like a dog when she's happy. Swishes all over. Then when she walks towards me with tail straight up and makes a ? with it-so cute! She tries to communicate with the other cat but she is grouchy and doesn't like other cats. They do sniff noises but then Honeybee will chase her. Pumpkin Face is 14 and not in the best of shape. We know it's a matter of time but for now Honeybee leaves her alone. Pumps sleeps on the deck until it gets cold.

    I have seen others cats communicate with each other and yes out in the wild they don't meow. It's not unusual for them to learn to meow when they are in their home with us where they feel safe. There are different tones and whistles they use.

    Honeybee has her loud screams when she wants to go out. Other time it's a soft meow trying to be dainty and sweet to get what she wants...which she gets. She has learned how to beg for treats just like a dog. Cats are very intelligent.
     
  18. inkysmom

    inkysmom TCS Member Adult Cat

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    My cats meow and talk to each other all the time. Have for years, many different cats. Cats don't read the internet and don't know they're only supposed to meow to people and not each other.
     
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  19. coffeechick

    coffeechick Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

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    Foxxycat:

    I'm glad there are other cats that wag their tails in something other than warning.

    Inkysmom:

    Good point. Although Morti seems to think she's from tech support.

    I feel like I'm almost an expert at un-catting computers now.
     
  20. inkysmom

    inkysmom TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Lol me too. I missed the tail wagging part. My cat that looks abd acts like a Maine coon wraps his tail around me when we cuddle and seems like he wags or slowly waves his rail with affection and happiness when I'm petting and hugging him. He can never get enough attention or love and loves to be hugged, he'll literally press as close to me as he can get wrapping his waving his tail and wrapping it around me and wrapping a paw around my arm to hold me close and trap me there. He'll be purring frantically and even drooling and sometimes he'll put his paw in my hand and then start with the love bites. If I call the dog or another cat he comes flying over, like saying "no ME ME ME!!!". He's very expressive and will literally limb up me and wrap himself around my neck when I get home if I let him.
     
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