What words do cats understand?

  • Date: January 19, 2023
  • Time to read: 3 min.

Have you ever wondered what words cats understand? It’s a common question among pet owners who want to better understand their feline friends. Cats may not be able to talk like humans, but they can still understand and respond to certain words and phrases. In this article, we’ll explore which words cats understand, how they understand them, and how owners can use this knowledge to better communicate with their cats.

Do Cats Understand Words?

Cats are known to be mysterious, but they are also known to be smart and intuitive. Many cat owners wonder if their beloved pet understands spoken words, or if it’s all a matter of body language and instinct.

The answer is yes, cats do understand some words — but not as many as we might think. Studies have found that cats are able to recognize certain words and respond to them in appropriate ways. This suggests that cats have some level of language comprehension.

How Do Cats Understand Words?

Cats use a combination of sound, body language, and scent to understand the world around them. Many cats will respond to their name when it is called, and they can recognize certain words related to their care and comfort. For instance, cats may respond to words such as “food,” “treat,” and “water.”

In addition to being able to comprehend certain words, cats also understand human emotions and body language. Cats can detect when their owners are happy, sad, angry, or frustrated. They may respond to this emotional state with their own body language, such as purring, meowing, or rubbing against their owners.

Can Cats Learn Words?

Cats can learn and understand new words with the help of positive reinforcement. Cat owners can reward their cats for displaying the desired behavior by providing treats or verbal praise.

For instance, if a cat learns to come when its name is called, its owner can reward it with a treat or verbal praise. This will reinforce the behavior and can help the cat learn to associate the word with the desired behavior.

However, cats may only learn a few words. Studies have shown that cats can learn up to about 30 words, but not all cats will reach this number. Additionally, cats may not always respond to the words, as they can become distracted or uninterested.

Can Cats Understand Complicated Sentences?

Cats do not understand complicated sentences. They are only able to comprehend simple words and commands. Additionally, cats may not always respond to these commands, as they can be distracted or uninterested.

For instance, cats may not understand commands such as “Come here and sit down.” However, they may understand simple commands such as “Come here” or “Sit down.”


Cats are capable of understanding some words and responding to them in appropriate ways. They can learn new words with the help of positive reinforcement, but they may only learn a few words. Cats do not understand complicated sentences, but they can comprehend simple words and commands.

Common Myths About Cat Language

Myth 1: Cats understand all human words.

Fact: Cats are intelligent animals and can pick up on some words and phrases, but they do not understand our language in the same way humans do.

Myth 2: Cats can understand complex instructions.

Fact: Cats are more likely to understand simple instructions such as “sit” or “come”, rather than complex instructions.

Myth 3: Cats understand human body language.

Fact: Cats are able to interpret some human body language, such as when we point at something, but they do not always understand what we are trying to communicate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats understand words?

Yes, cats can understand some words and phrases and can learn to associate words with specific actions or behaviors.

What words do cats understand?

Cats can understand words related to their basic needs such as “food”, “water”, and “litter box”. They can also learn to recognize their names, as well as the names of family members and other pets. With enough repetition, cats may even learn to respond to simple commands such as “sit”, “stay”, and “come”.



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