My cat knows plenty of words. I can string his known words together into sentences, and he clearly shows he understands. He knows names, words of things, locations, actions.

Example: He always goes to eat immediately when he comes inside. One time when I opened the door, I told him "[Person he loves] is upstairs in the living room", and he immediately turned and gallopped there to greet them. I can tell him which door I will go to to let him out, and he will run there and wait for me. He is very clever. I know another cat that is like this too.

I love the thought of having a sound board for him like in the video, but I just know he will use it to wake the whole house on a regular basis XD So I haven't gotten one yet. He makes do pretty well with sounds and body language. He has started greeting me with a short mew exactly the same tone and length as my "hi". I honestly think he's trying to imitate the word.

but I just know he will use it to wake the whole house on a regular basis XD So I haven't gotten one yet.


He has started greeting me with a short mew exactly the same tone and length as my "hi". I honestly think he's trying to imitate the word.

That’s so sweet!

That's a vocabulary of about 60 words, right? That seems reasonable for a cat. I know dogs can have much bigger vocabularies (some over 200). There's no grammer (syntax), just words put together in whatever order, so that makes sense for a non-human. Other species do have "words", it's just usually they don't sound like our words, just coded sounds, because they don't have our vocal cords.

I thought it was funny that Ghana became "outside". A cat would have no way of understanding "Ghana" but "outside" covers a lot of things.

Teaching the cat how to communicate that way would require some patience, but sure, why not?

It's also funny that when I did a search for "dog vocabulary size" I got a range of numbers and all the top hits answered the question, but when I did a search for "cat vocabulary size" nothing even answered the question. I guess cats are harder to train and most people don't even bother. So maybe that's the part that's incredible, and not the potential vocabulary size.

You make a great point about researchers.With all the cat lovers out there that would love to know more, funding only goes to dogs because you train them for professions. Can’t sell professional cats that understand you but decide to ignore you. Lol. Now I’m picturing it.

[–] DoomedSibyl 3 points Edited

Lifelong cat lover here. To the point that at one point I was pretty much a one woman cat refuge in this little western town that treats cats badly.

I know cats understand words and complex communication with their humans. The smartest and most singular cat I’ve ever known would get up on the counter where the fancy feast was kept and would use both paws to pick the cans out of the box and throw them on the floor to get the attention of the humans who weren’t moving fast enough to suit him. All the while saying a word that sounded like “Eaat!! Eaat!” We figured out that the same cat had convinced three of the four humans then in the house to feed him extras.

I’m convinced that cats always understand what I want whether or not they choose to comply. That look of superior disdain they give you. “Yes, I know what you want but I’m not doing it!” I’ve heard more than one cat say no.

My handyman at the time told me that this cat, Twain, would sit with him and move his tools within reach, all the while giving him an thoughtful and bemused look of “yes, of course I understand what you’re doing; I’m supervising.” At these times he never made a mess or used them as a toy, just moved things within reach. Empty boxes were still fair game.

Twain also decided which cats joined our little clowder and refuge. I never had to go looking for cats; they arrived in my backyard starving, sick, injured, abandoned. Twain had some sort of criteria and woe betide cats that wouldn’t get along with those already resident. Any cat willing to abide by his go along to get along rules was welcomed, announced and taught the “Eaat!” Meow. And sometimes other needed skills as assessed by Twain. Twain would also let transient cats have a nap and a bite to eat, as long as they passed whatever his criteria were. Twain was a cat who converted avowed cat haters to awe and admiration.

Twain was killed in his own yard defending the other cats from a marauding pit bull that had slipped his chain. Another neighbor who witnessed and tried to intervene said that Twain stood his ground while the other cats found hiding places. The neighbor swears to this day that he told the other cats to scatter. He was a very special cat and he absolutely not only understood but spoke.

Dogs talk too. And can be stubborn about obeying but I think part of this is me. I’m used to my companions having minds of their own and don’t demand slavish obedience for the sake of it. I’ve been trained by cats since childhood you see.

I recently rescued the first dogs of my life. Their name means lion dog and after the initial get to know each other I have mixed species cuddle puddles. The dogs talk too. One day I stopped home between errands to get something I’d forgotten. My dogs like all dogs like to ride in the car. I have to lift my old man dog in when his arthritis hurts him.

I was getting ready to leave again and looked around for my older dog who is usually waiting patiently at my feet. He was nowhere to be seen. I noticed the door to the yard was open and went looking. The dog was sitting on the walk looking back at me and waiting. He walked to the back door looking back periodically and put a paw on the door. I called him, not something he ever ignores generally and he came part way up the walk and then repeated the entire process. Even a dumb human like me got it. “You girls go ahead. I’ve had enough of the car today and would rather have a nap on the sofa.” That’s exactly what happened and his daughter and I finished the chores.

Animals are smarter than we think and they communicate. I’ve seen a raccoon mom teach her alpha baby to just ignore the cats as she passes through the yard at dusk. I’ve seen a deer and my Siamese cat exchanging pleasantries when the deer jumped the fence for the deep winter rose leaves. They stood a foot apart the cat looking up and the doe down and then the cat stepped aside politely so the deer could get to the rose bushes nearest the house.

I often think that a world with even some respected female influence might mean that we were better to animals. Not just the domesticated companions we love either. That we wouldn’t see them as only resources because that is how we ourselves are seen. Animals talk and if they don’t have sentience than neither do we.

I started following Billi Speaks recently, and if it’s cherry-picked I can only say her human must spend a hell of a lot of time doing it to get all these usable clips!

Great fun to watch, either way. Billi’s adorable.

I hope it’s real. I would like to think my cat understands a little more than “play” and “food.”

I’m sure mine do. At least they associate some speech sounds with certain results. Only one they consistently fail is “Get out of the way!” 😸