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I think my cat understands human-talk

COVID-19 Shelter In Place Day Twenty-four

*NOTE: As much as I enjoy writing these blogs, writing one every day is just too much. I’m not getting my book writing done. So, I’m going to shoot for 3-4 days a week.

My cats don’t bite.

Scratch? Yes.

But bite, no.

They’ve never bitten anyone.


Until last night.

I don’t blame Salem though. I blame my sister.

She was over this weekend helping me around the house and she was definitely nervous around some of my cats.

I have two calico cats.


and Connie-Cat

Connie-Cat had been a stray at my niece’s house. I took her in a few years ago. For some reason she sits around with her tongue hanging from her mouth (lol).

Mix jumped up on the desk near where my sister was sitting.

SISTER (cringing away from the cat).

ME: “Are you afraid of my cat?”

SISTER: “Yes. She bites.”

ME: “Mix doesn’t bite.” (she playfully nips because she likes you,but I kept that to myself -lol)

SISTER: “I can’t tell her and the other one apart and the other one bites.”

ME: “Connie-Cat doesn’t bite.” (I’m actually a little nervous around this cat. She’s just not all that tame or used to people yet but we’re working on it. However, I’m talking to my sister so I have to poke at her fear and make fun of her. It’s what our family does.)

SISTER: “She used to bite when she lived at my daughter’s house.”

ME: “Well, she doesn’t bite here.”

Later, my sister shies away from one of my other cats, Salem.

ME: “Are you scared of Salem too?” (he growls and hisses but he’s never bitten anyone – ever).

SISTER: “He looks like he might bite me.”

ME: “Nah, Salem is all talk.”

Still later, my niece came over to pick up my sister and she brought her son, D . He’s six.

He’s sitting on the couch petting Salem who’s stretched out on the back of the couch. I’m sitting two places over and keeping a haphazard eye on D. to make sure he’s not going to be mean to my cat. He’s a sweet boy who likes animals but he’s still only six and sometimes little kids can be mean. But today, D’s being a good kid and is just trying to pet Salem by wiggling his fingers along the side of Salem’s face when suddenly D stands up, crying.

He hurries over to his mother, mumbling words only a mother can understand.

ME: “What’s wrong? Did Salem scratch him?” In the past that’s how my cats have shown the children that they’ve had enough – a quick slap on the hand, claws out enough to hurt but not enough to draw blood.

HIS MOTHER: “No, Salem bit him.”

ME: “What?”  I look at Salem. He is not a happy cat. His ears are flat on his head and he hisses.

I should’ve paid more attention. I’m always super careful with my dogs and children but I never really worried about my cats.

D is fine. It was a small cut on his thumb but next time, I’ll watch more closely. I’m sure Salem gave D warning signs but D was too little to understand them.

I do take some of the blame but most of it I pin on my sister (just kidding – lol). The cats never bit until she kept bringing it up. I’ve had Salem since he was a kitten. He’s ten now.

I think Salem understood her and thought, “That human keeps talking about us biting her. I didn’t think it was allowed, but it must be.”

So, be careful what you say around your animals. They may understand more than you think.


  1. Simone Leigh says:

    You have a chimera cat! So do I lol!

    1. Linda Odea says:

      Okay, I’ll bite (pun intended – lol). Which is the chimera cat and why chimera? One of my calicoes I’m assuming since I know you have a calico and one or two white cats.

  2. Suzie says:

    Seriously, my cats do understand human language. All cats do. I once read something along the lines of the difference between dogs and cats is that dogs want to do as you say and cats want to be awkward. We have always had two cats at a time; our current crop are Timmie and Hettie. They are coming up to 11. She is super-affectionate, especially with my husband who she adores (because I ignored her as a kitten and he didn’t). Timmie (twice her size but they are meant to be siblings – we got them from a rescue centre) is reserved and aggressive when nervous. It took eight years for him to get on my lap and stay there, (that’s why I ignored Het – to give him the love he needed) but he is so clever. We have two rooms connected by an open hearth with a log burner. Husband is usually in the study, me in the library. Come lunch, Tim hangs around anxiously for about an hour watching every move we make. When I am ready to feed him, I say ‘go and get your daddy’ and he goes looking either via the hearth or the hallway and meows (he’s often a ‘silent screamer’) at husband to let him know it’s time. He knows other words too. He also, if he thinks you are going to smack him (because he has been naughty) lifts his paw to smack you first. He is also an affectionate biter. I think Hettie knows a lot too, but she is too cool to bother!

    1. Linda Odea says:

      Hi Suzie,

      They both sound awesome although Tim is a bit of work. I have a cat named Tim too (named him after Tim in the Lake of Sins series, so I should’ve known what to expect) and he’s trouble – always. lol. Just curious, was Tim older when you adopted him? I have two females who’d lived their lives outside until I took them in and they are both silent “meowers”. I thought it was because they’d lived outdoors.

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