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What is your cat saying? Swedish scientists launch five year project to find out

LNM Radio Network

LNM Radio Network

The language of cats could be decoded in just a few years, after scientists launched project to translate feline sounds

Cats meow only for humans, but nobody is quite sure what it means Photo: ALAMY
A five year project to find out what cats are saying to their owners has been launched by a Swedish University.
By 2021, phonetics experts at Lund University hope to have cracked the feline code and be able to interpret a whole range of ‘meowings’, ‘mewings,’ and ‘purrings.’
In the wild cats stop meowing once they reach adulthood as they no longer have to gain the attention of their mothers for milk or comfort.
But since their domestication around 10,000 years ago, pet cats have learned to communicate with humans using vocal and visual signals when they want food or affection, and continue making sounds throughout their lives.
To work out what the various sounds mean, the team will be recording up to 50 cats in different locations to see how their mood affects their meowing when they are content, friendly, happy, hungry, annoyed or even angry – and try to identify any differences in their phonetic patterns.
Dr Schotz added: “We want to find out to what extent domestic cats are influenced by the language and dialect that humans use to speak to them, because it seems that cats use slightly different dialects in the sounds they produce.”