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  • It's early morning...

  • And Tigger spots a strange black cat on a nearby roof.

  • And listen to this.

  • Chittering may simply be a sound of frustration but no one's really sure.

  • Rocky, out for a stroll in the afternoon...

  • Makes this noise when another cat blocks his way.

  • But the story of cat communication is a lot more surprising than this.

  • There's one noise we've hardly heard.

  • It rarely happens when the cats are out with each other.

  • Hello.

  • To understand what's going on...

  • Do you want some dinner?

  • We have to go back to the beginning and the youngest members of the study.

  • Biologist Dr John Bradshaw can explain why these one-week-old kittens meow.

  • The meow starts off as a kitten vocalization.

  • It's something that kittens use in order to call their mothers over and, as you can see, it's very effective in doing that.

  • The mother is very attentive to those meows.

  • And then, as the kitten grows up, it gradually stops meowing, presumably just because the meow stops working.

  • The mother wants to wean the kitten and stops responding.

  • With a pet cat, which is constantly meowing at its owner, it's a way of getting the owner's attention.

  • And that's because we are not very vigilant creatures.

  • We spend a lot of our time with our noses buried in books, or computer screens, or TVs, and a cat... each cat learns independently, we think, that using this piece of kitten behaviour is a good way of getting our attention.

  • So, meowing is a good way of getting us to look up and find out what it is they want from us.

  • There you go, Henry.

  • Come and say hello to Mummy!

  • So, cats have two different languages, one for each other... and one for us.

  • Scientists have found cats make a huge range of meows... and they wondered if there was a universal cat-human language.

  • Okay.

  • There's a trill that Jasper does, which is quite...

  • Yeah, that's it.

  • They make that funny little noise, they go...

  • -That doesn't sound anything like it. - think it does.

  • Scientists have discovered that every cat's meows are unique.

  • Each cat learns which noises work best in certain situations, developing a special language that only their owner will understand.

  • When they want food, it's a much more prolonged meow.

  • Are you hungry?

  • Miss Piggy's learnt how to say milk, so she does a proper milk meow.

  • She's like milk... like that.

  • Come on. Is it nice?

  • And when our cats meow, there's one thing that almost every owner in the study said they did.

  • Did you go hunting today?

  • Talk back.

  • Pretty girl. Are you a pretty girl? Are you Momma's pretty girl?

  • Pixie, you lovely girl. Yes!

  • Talking comes naturally to us and every kitten that spends time with people learns that to communicate with us, they have to make a noise.

It's early morning...

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