I’ve never been much of a back-talker, even during my cranky teenage years. I may have said a few things under my breath, but I didn’t have what you’d call a sassy mouth. I have, however, known quite a few back-talking people, including one of my very own children (I won’t mention which one, but it’s the one who’s not the daughter).
I’ve interacted with several adults who just had to have the last word. What is it about that? Talking back is a great way to slide in that last-word thing, and they won’t rest until they’ve ended the conversation.
I’ve also known some cats that chronically talk back. Of my three, the girls’ mouths are both full of sass. Cosmo seems to accept things as they are, and he doesn’t feel the need to add commentary. Sometimes Phoebe and Saffy talk back to him, and he pretty much ignores them and walks away.
Phoebe is the biggest feline back-talker I’ve ever met. She has an opinion about everything and never seems to be short on meows. This is especially evident when I remove her from wherever she wants to be at the time — like if she’s sitting on top of my purse and I have to leave the house. As I pick her up, she starts with the “mrrrrrrr” sound, telling me she’s not down with making the move. Then she walks away while adding one extra “mrrrrrr” for good measure. And if I say something like, “Go sleep on your bed,” she replies with another “mrrrrrr.” She’ll respond to every single thing I say to her because she will have the last word.
She also back-talks when I don’t give her what she’s asking for. If she wants yet another treat and I don’t comply, she looks right at me and shoots a snotty-sounding “myah” in my direction. This is a total bratty teenager reply. “You’re not going to give me what I want? FINE!” She also uses the “myah” when she wants to jump in my lap but it’s not possible at the time. She reminds me of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — “I want a golden ticket, and I want it now!”
Saffy’s back-talk is a little more subtle. First of all, she doesn’t make the whiny sounds like Phoebe does; her sounds are gravelly, quiet, and old-lady-like. She sounds like a cranky elderly woman, muttering under her breath. Most of her back-talk centers around food, and she rarely back-talks to my face. She sasses as she walks away — just loud enough that she knows I can hear her.
Saffy constantly goes after Cosmo’s and Phoebe’s food. When she’s finished with her own meal, she makes her rounds to the other two feeding stations. She stands behind each cat, like a cafeteria bully, silently intimidating them until they leave, and then she swoops in for the chow. When I shoo her to move on, she trots away while snapping a subdued, gravelly “ayooow.” And her ears are straight back when she does it. It’s quite humorous to watch her do this. She doesn’t have the audacity to “ayooow” to my face, but she wants me to know she’s pissed off about the situation. When I call her on it, she looks at me like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” but her face is full of passive aggressive sass.
She also serves up the back-talk after I’ve given her a medication before dinner at night. She’s good about taking her pill, but as soon as I place her on the ground, she runs away while muttering her trademark “ayooow.” I should have named her Sassy instead of Saffy.
Is your cat a back-talker? Tell us about it in the comments!
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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (birthed right here on Catster) 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 features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.