Are all meows made the same? Scientists at Sweden’s Lund University want to know.
For the next five years a group of lucky phonetics specialists will study cats and their owners from two different regions of Sweden, examining the voice and speaking style of human-to-cat and cat-to-human.
“It seems that cats and their human companions together develop some kind of unique ‘pidgin language’ in their vocal communication, and it is not impossible that some of the accent or dialect features of the human speech is included in the vocal signals of the cat as well,” Susanne Schötz, an associate professor of phonetics at Lund University and researcher, told Newsweek.
Ultimately, researchers hope to discover if cats use specific meows for different situations, and if those meows vary between cats becasue of each owner’s accent and speech style. This information could lead to breakthroughs in cat communication, and improve the overall relationship between pet people and their kitties.
“We hope to find distinct melodic patterns that can be related to specific situations, as well as to find out if cats in different geographic locations adapt their melodies — at least to some extent — to the human language and the accents or dialects spoken around them,” Schötz explained. “If we can relate different types of melodies to different situations or different accents we hope to contribute to improving human-cat communication and also the quality of life for cats.”
This is not the first time this kind of research has been conducted, previous studies have shown that sperm whales have different dialects based on location, and that city birds have different songs than their countryside counterparts