Can cats understand no? This is a question we often ponder.
It’s hard to say for certain, but some cats do seem to know when they’ve done something wrong and will stop doing it.
Does your cat know what the word no means?
Good news: it turns out that cats may be able to understand more than you think they can!
For example, does your cat stop scratching the couch when you tell them not to do it?
This might be proof that they’re listening and understanding what you’re saying.
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How Do Cats Know?
While it’s true that not all cats respond well to words, some do and it can be very rewarding when you realize that they’re listening and understanding what you’re telling them.
There are two schools of thought on this: one is that cats understand human language in a limited way and the other theory is that they don’t really understand the words themselves but they know when you’re upset or uncomfortable with their actions.
Some owners have even accomplished teaching their cats their names.
However, this is much more difficult to accomplish than it might seem because you have to use the word consistently in conversation with the cat.
Cats are intelligent creatures and, much like humans, develop different personalities.
Your cat may be very intelligent and can understand many words while your neighbor’s animal may not understand a single one.
Felines and humans can’t actually understand each other, but we can understand cat behavior.
Research has found that cats will respond to human words and touch in certain ways.
Although we don’t really know if cats understand any of the words we use, it’s clear that they do respond to our actions and emotions in order to get our attention or get out of our way, but only when the context seems right.
When these behaviors are misunderstood by me or my cat’s physical tone, gestures and body language it’s often irrational, but I know what he wants and how he communicates that to me.
I’d like to add, that it’s the animal that has to teach us how they communicate and we then need to learn how to understand them, much like when we’re learning any new language.
To me, there is no such thing as a cat not understanding what I’m saying.
They can actually be much more intelligent than humans in their own way and I think we all need to give our animals a little more credit in their brains.
It’s true that we can’t teach them all the words in the English language… at least not yet!
But if you want your cat or dog to know certain words, make sure you use them all of the time.
Teach Your Cat Slowly and Consistently
If you want your cat to understand you when you say ‘no’, you need to say no consistently before he does things that you don’t want him to do.
Also, you must show your cat that you’re uncomfortable with what he’s doing or trying to do.
If you do this, then they’ll stop doing the things that bother you once they realize that it upsets you.
The best way to teach them is to use your voice.
When you say no, make sure your cat hears it. If he doesn’t, don’t give up! You may need to repeat it.
Talk loudly and confidently. You’ll want to make it clear that you’re unhappy.
An action that often works is to block your cat’s path while he’s doing something wrong.
For example, if you have a cat that jumps on the counter, gently place your hand on the counter to block his path.
If you’re consistent with your no’s then your cat will eventually understand that they are doing something wrong.
It’s true that some cats may never comprehend what you’re saying, but many do! And it’s an amazing thing when you realize that your cat is listening to you.
Of course, along with training your cat, you must be consistent with redirection.
In this case, you have to be consistent with ‘no’, but once your cat knows it makes you happy he won’t do it again.
Your cat is smarter than you might think and it’s hard to understand what they’re trying to communicate when they don’t know how to talk, but when both of you learn how to communicate with each other it can be a win-win situation. And they can definitely understand you.
This is a big reason why teaching your cat to come when called can be so helpful.
When they know that you will feed them or play with them, they’ll want to come when they hear their name called.
They will most likely come, so they know what is expected of them.
I’ve had a lot of cats in my life and I can honestly say that most of them understood me when I said ‘no’ and they stopped scratching the furniture.
All Cats are Different
However, not all cats learn to know what no means and will stop because they aren’t given the opportunity to learn by me repeating it over and over.
In the end, although I’ve been successful with many cats understanding words, it’s hard to say if every cat can understand a single word.
However, I do believe that most cats can understand a variety of words and tones depending on the circumstances they’re in.
From one cat to the next, there is a certain element of personality involved in understanding words and they will respond to us depending on the ways that we communicate with them.
I don’t think cats are getting smarter, but I do believe that as a society we as humans are becoming more attuned to what cats are communicating.
For some reason, we seem to have more of an understanding of what is going on inside their head.
It’s true that there are some cases where cats don’t understand words, but I think that those are very rare situations.
I believe that many cats do understand words, even though they may not be speaking the words.
It’s just that they’re communicating in their own way. For example, they may be more likely to listen to us when we say ‘no’ than they are to understand words.
However, I’ve also had cats that understood words very well.
The best example is my cat Wrigley. He had virtually no words, but he understood all of them!
It’s amazing how cats will respond to the words that we use to respond back.
They’ll know that it means something other than having our attention or food.
They can tell that it’s a totally different message.
In the end, I think cats understand words as well as we do. It just depends on the cat.
Cats may not always understand what we’re saying, but if they know that their behavior is upsetting to us they’ll want to fix it because they care about our feelings.
Along with this, cats pay close attention to our body language and tone of voice, so if you think that your cat understands a certain word or phrase then you can do a test by speaking that same phrase in a different tone or mood and see how your cat reacts.
Of course, not all animals are the same and some animals learn things much more quickly than others.
But as long as you’re consistent with training your animal there’s no such thing as an animal not understanding what you’re saying.