I want to apologize for my disappearance this past week as I dealt with a sudden trip and family emergency.  The crisis is past, although it is almost sure to continue as such things do when one’s mother is elderly and increasingly frail.  My family and I had so little time to work on anything other than making sure the hospital and rehab facility didn’t inadvertently kill my mother by failing to turn on her oxygen or by giving her meds that suppressed her breathing (both of which actually happened). We wondered how someone in my mom’s condition, without family on board, would survive without advocates. While we have no answers to that, the immediate need and crisis is past. I plan to be back on my regular schedule ASAP.



The Secret Language of Cats

How to Understand Your Cat for a Better, Happier Relationship

By Susanne Schotz
Narrated by Romy Nordlinger
Puboiushed by Tantor Media
Publication date Dec 12, 2018
Running time 6 hrs

I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

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 Schötz 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, Schötz 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.

My Take Oblong Shaped

If you have one or more cats, or just like them, then I can’t imagine you do not wonder what they are saying to you, or what they mean when they chitter at birds, or why they hiss or growl.  I have four cats, two of whom chatter and meow extensively, and two who are very quiet.
This phonetics scientist also wondered about her own cat family and with her knowledge of sounds and how to notate and categorize them has studied them extensively.  Her book is both a story of her own experiences with cats and a scientific look at cat sounds.  

Sadly, this is not a dictionary of cat language, and the meanings of cat talk remains a secret to me after reading. The book was not what I expected — I still do not know for sure, what my cats are telling the birds at our feeders. I suspect it’s, “come here little birdie I have something to show you inside m y mouth.”

Like many science-oriented books I believe it is better read in print.  There are supplemental materials but I did not find them helpful. To be clear, I only learned the tiniest bit of phonetics in grade school so if you have a greater knowledge of them this could be great. There was occasionally a confusion of the gender of specific cats in her personal menagerie (perhaps due to translation), and the scientific part of the book was, sadly for me, too scholarly to be truly interesting. I am not saying this scientist doesn’t know her subject, just that it is rather esoteric if you are not also a phonetician. 

Romy Nordlinger does a good job narrating a difficult topic. I may have transferring my own issues to the narration but sometimes I thought she made the authoir sound a little like a crazy cat lady.  As a CCL myself I can sympathize.  It’s would be hard not to ascribe that descriptor in the listening to the narration; reading it out loud without thinking it might have been tough.

And, again, I really enjoyed the personal stories. Just not the science as read aloud.

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