OK, Be Honest: Who Here Uses Baby-Talk on the Cat?
"Does hers wanna seep on the blankie?" "Is hers hungies?" Is this a doting grandma talking to her infant grandchild? Nope. That's just Peter Lepera baby-talking to his beloved tabby girl, Katie. And he doesn't reserve his sugary speech for Katie -- he also talks that way to his other three cats, Jake, Max and Killer.
Peter does, however, give extra lovey lingo to Katie. He says, "Katie is the more skittish one, so I tend to baby her more, especially during storms. Thunder and lightening really scare her so [my wife] Kristin and I swaddle her like a baby, while rocking her and singing lullabies."
Last week I put out a call on Facebook, asking my friends to reveal the ways they speak to their felines. I expected to find a mix of talking styles, but was a little bit blown away by one of my findings: Around 95 percent of those who responded unabashedly confessed to baby-talking to their cats -- and nearly all of them were men. In my small sample, women seemed to be the ones who spoke more matter-of-factly to their cats, conversing with them like human friends.
Bryan Thompson says than in addition to baby-talking to his tabby, Wistoft, and tuxie, McCreery, he meows back at them -- and not just in his regular speaking voice. He matches his voice to the tone of each cat's meow. He says Wistoft's voice is Bonnie Tyler-style raspy, while McCreery is chirpy-chatty. So that's exactly how he converses with them! Bryan adds, "I figure they understand their own words best, so it's best to mimic what they say." Great. Now "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is stuck in my head -- and not a meowing version.
Kelly Hill was the only woman who offered details of her baby-talking habit. She calls Tiger "Mama's Little Kitty Booger" and Patches "Miss Pitty Pat." She says everyone thinks it's sickening the way she talks to her cats, but she couldn't care less. She piles on the syrupy sweetness to Tiger: "Come here and give me kissies!" Her brother told her, "You've taken a good cat and ruined him." She couldn't agree less. Kelly never baby-talked to Patches, originally her mother's cat, until her mom passed away. She says, "It's like she never got over or recovered from my mom's dying, so I talk to her more sweetly and she wants to be held more now."
Duane Orlovski doesn't baby-talk to his cat, Ravioli -- no way. He chooses to instead toss a little German his way. He counts to him in the foreign language and says, "Sprachen sie Deutch?" ("Do you speak German?") He adds, "I say lines I've heard in movies that get played in German, because I don't actually know German. And I tease him about creating propaganda materials and sending them to other cats." He has no problem speaking like this in front of others. In fact, now his friend is doing it, too. Knowing Duane's dry humor and Ravioli's cranky personality, this totally makes sense to me.
I've never been one to baby-talk to my cats, and I suppose it never occurred to me to do it. I didn't even baby-talk to my children when they were infants. I've also never gotten into the LOL cat-speak. I usually write cat humor and, in my mind, cats who think and "speak" intelligently sound funnier than those who do it in misspelled, broken English. I pass no judgement toward people who love the LOL -- it's just never been my thing. Like Jerry Seinfeld says, "Not that there's anything wrong with it ..." I do have to say, however, I find my husband extra attractive when he's baby-talking to our cats. There's just something about men and cats.
Dee Walter Kuleski agrees with me. She's doesn't ever baby-talk to her 34 cats. Yes, you read that correctly: 34 cats. You see, Dee runs a private cat sanctuary. She says, "I refuse to baby-talk to babies, much less cats. I simply use a more simplistic sentence structure. Both babies and cats understand far more than what we give them credit for. Cats are highly evolved spiritual beings and I refuse to use a squeaky voice and idiotic language with them."
Janiss Garza of Sparkle the Designer Cat says she never even talked baby-talk when she was a baby. Aside from her continued love and fascination with Legos and Hello Kitty, she's gone through life as a serious, practical individual. She talks to Sparkle, Binga and Boodie exactly as she would speak to the humans in her life. She says, "I talk to them like the intelligent beings they are. Actually, I think my most important communication with them happens on a 'cat language' level -- looking at them a certain way, blinking (Jackson Galaxy's 'slow blink'), body language, etc." She longs for the day her ears can move independently of one another so she can perfect her cat communication skills.
How do you talk to your cat? Is it more baby-talk or more like you're talking to a friend? Tell us about it in the comments!
About the Author: Angie Bailey is a goofy girl with freckles and giant smile who wants everyone to be her friend. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, and thinking about cats doing people things. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that may or may not offend people. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.
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