Lisa D. (chaoticidealism) wrote,
Lisa D.

Talking to Cats

When I first became a cat-owner, I had no special way of talking to cats. I used the same pedantic style as I did with anyone else. Cats, after all, didn't understand words most of the time; so why should I baby-talk to them?

But over the years, as my cats and I have connected more and more with each other, I've developed a language I use only with cats.

It's not baby-talk. In fact, it's hardly even English (or German, which I speak marginally well because I am a first-generation, though early-childhood, immigrant from Germany).

The strange thing is, in this language, words don't really mean much at all. It's more about the rhythm and the pitch. I realized today that what I was speaking to my cats is a tonal language more akin to music than speech. It's full of neologisms and simplified English words. The words that cause tension on the tongue, or hissing noises, have been changed. "Whisker" is now pronounced like "Fishka"--the tension on the "W" and the "R", and the hissing "S", have all been changed. "You" is "Soo", with emphasis on the O sound and very little S. When I tell Tiny it's okay to come and snuggle in bed with me, I say "Come on up!"--but it sounds more like, "Komunup!", always with the same quick syllables and ascending tone. "Soo ma keeto" is a term of endearment, always said slowly and with a very steady pitch. "Tiliket" is a form of laughter that says, "I enjoy watching you play." (It comes from "Silly cat!".)

I think, when I first realized that cats don't really use words, I must have given myself the freedom to do whatever I wanted with language. I want to say something the way I think it? I want to sing a word instead of saying it? I want to say words that mean what I feel instead of being strictly symbolic? With cats, that is okay; and they never, never laugh at you for it. I think they put up with me because they know that my stiff body will never be able to make the movements and postures of a true cat-language; so they let me chirp at them. Sometimes I think they must understand me better than I understand them.
Tags: cats, communication
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