Why is it a safe move to teach my cat to come when I whistle?

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Teaching your cat to answer to its name or to come when you whistle is a highly practical lesson, not only for fun things like feeding and attention, but also as a safety measure if the animal is ever lost. Multiple “calls” are a good idea so that regardless of its circumstances or degree of fright, the cat is more likely to respond.

There’s always debate over the ability dogs and cats have to acquire spoken language, but science suggests that both can have a working “vocabulary” of roughly 50 words. Cats seem to respond best to names with distinctive “hard” syllables that can be emphasized.

His name is, however, the most abstract concept the cat will ever learn. If your cat is genuinely afraid or even hurt, he might not respond just to his name. Because cats can’t actually speak, your whistle may be more distinctive and a more accurate identifier that you are the one calling than just the sound of the name.

Cats can hear a higher range of frequency than humans, and they often find sounds like a whistle fascinating. After all, their primary prey is the squeaking mouse. Many people report that the “silent” cell phone ringtones teens use that fall below their parent’s hearing range also drive the family cat nuts.

Some behaviorists believe that because cats communicate with one another through complex and nuanced body language, gestures are even better signals as “commands.” These kinds of “calls” are very good, as a cat ages and his hearing becomes less acute. He may not hear “dinner!” but associate the flashing kitchen light as a signal that his supper is ready.

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