Anyone who's ever found oneself talking to a cat may not need to worry about being totally insane after all.
Cats are, it turns out, actually trying to talk to us. So it would be odd if we didn't respond.
Cats don't even really meow to communicate with each other … which makes the finding even more bizarre.
A series of experiments examined humans and cats to see how they were communicating with each other, and found that people were better at interpreting the meows from cats they lived with versus cats they didn't know.
The study also concluded that the main purpose of meows is to "attract attention from humans."
"The latest research about when and why cats meow is really exciting, since until recently there has been very little research on domestic cats," Adi Hovav, senior feline behavior counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center, told The Dodo. "It does seem to be the case, as any cat parent will tell you, that cats can be pretty chatty when they want something. In my experience as a feline behavior counselor, felines have their humans well-trained."
Hovav noted the interesting truth that cats don't meow to each other, further suggesting that "the meow is something felines have learned to do when training... I mean interacting with people."
Recent findings on cats and communication have been making the news, too. A fascinating article and accompanying video by New York Magazine's the Science of Us blog sum up discoveries about cats and their amazing abilities to communicate with human beings — and help us interpret our sometimes inscrutable furry family members.
But we humans aren't always as astute as cats hope we are. Scientists have also discovered that we might be misreading our cats' other vocalization: purring.
It's more complicated than just being blissfully happy: Purring can simply mean that cats are feeling needy for one reason or another — they may even be feeling under the weather — and want you to stay close by.
Though they'd probably never admit it.
Watch the full video explaining this purrrrrfectly fascinating phenomenon here:
Update: This article has been updated to include new information from Adi Hovav of the ASPCA.