Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: "The Secret Language of Cats" by Susanne Sch├Âtz


As you know if you've been following my blog for very long, I have three adorable cats ... at least I think they're adorable ­čśë. Isis (unfortunately named, I know), Skaara, and Hammond have been part of my family for nearly 6-1/2 years.

I feel like we communicate pretty well, but I would love to know what some of their vocalizations mean. So when I heard about The Secret Language of Cats, I realized it might help me crack the code and understand my three goobers better!


Have you ever wondered what your cat is saying?

Cats do not meow randomly, nor do they growl or hiss because they have nothing better to do. Cat sounds have a purpose, and they can carry important messages, whether for us or other cats.

Susanne Sch├Âtz is hard at work on breaking the cat code. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, where a long-standing research program is proving that cats do actually use vocal communication—with each other and with their human caretakers. Understanding the vocal strategies used in human-cat communication will have profound implications for how we communicate with our pets, and has the potential to improve the relationship between animals and humans within several fields, including animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sheltering.

In The Secret Language of Cats, Sch├Âtz offers a crash course in the phonetic study of cat sounds. She introduces us to the full range of feline vocalizations and explains what they can mean in different situations, and she gives practical tips to help us understand our cats better.


The Secret Language of Cats is way more technical than I was anticipating. As I read, I felt like I was being transported back to my Modern American Grammar class in college, where we had to learn how to use phonemic symbols ... of which I remember virtually none! Fortunately, there's a table in the back of the book that explains things, but it's definitely more technical than the average cat owner would want to delve into.
Isis, Hammond, & Skaara
That said, the book is interesting (at least to someone like me who has that grammar background), especially as a reference book; I definitely did some skipping around as I looked for the pieces I was most interested in. And I did learn some things about my cats, especially about body language and scent marking. (Basically, the reason Skaara needs hugs in the morning is because he needs to "claim" me with his scent again after I've washed it off in the shower.) I also enjoyed the stories about Sch├Âtz's cats.

Sch├Âtz also offers advice for dealing with problems such as cats fighting, biting, and scratching where they're not supposed to, and I'm going to try to implement some of her suggestions with my own cats.

While the first part of the book (with all the talk of phonetics) might be overwhelming for the average cat owner, the second half is a great resource for someone truly desiring to understand their cat better. 3-1/2 stars.

Buy the book: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble
Follow the blog review & Instagram tour.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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