Melody in human–cat communication

Project: ResearchInterdisciplinary research, National collaboration, Internal collaboration (LU), International collaboration

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Animal and Dairy Science

Layman's description

The purpose of this project is to study the communication between humans and domestic cats. Specifically, we will investigate how the prosody, including the voice, melody (intonation) and speaking style – in human speech as well as in cat vocalisations – influence the vocal communication.

In Study 1 we will investigate how cats vary their melody (intonation) in human-directed and cat-directed vocalisations. How is cat prosody varied in different contexts or situations? How do human listeners perceive this intonational variation? We will develop a prosodic typology of cat vocalisations and present our results on a popular scientific website.

Study 2 will apply new methods to examine how cats perceive different prosodic cues in human speech. Do they distinguish between different voices (familiar-unfamiliar, adults-children) and speaking styles (pet-directed, adult-directed), and do they prefer certain intonation patterns?

The project primarily concerns basic research and represents pioneering work within human–cat communication. Our results may lead to an improved quality of life for cats and potentially for other pets as well. Understanding the vocal strategies used by humans and cats in human–cat communication will have profound implications for our understanding of how we communicate with our pets in general, and has the potential to improve the relation between animals and humans within several fields, including animal therapy, veterinary medicine, and animal sheltering.
Short titleMeowsic
Effective start/end date2016/07/012021/07/01


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Related research output

Susanne Schötz, 2019 Jun 10, Proceedings from FONETIK 2019 Stockholm, June 10–12, 2019. Heldner, M. (ed.). Stockholm, p. 67 6 p. 12

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding

Susanne Schötz, 2019 Jan 15, 1 ed. Stockholm: Forum. 264 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Susanne Schötz, Joost van de Weijer & Robert Eklund, 2019, Proc. 2nd Intl. Workshop on Vocal interactivity in-and-between Humans, Animals and Robots (VIHAR). Dassow, A., Marxer, R., Moore, R. K. & Stowell, D. (eds.). Ricard Marxer, p. 29-34

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding

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Related activities

Schötz, S. (Presenter), van de Weijer, J. (Contributor), Robert Eklund (Contributor)
2019 Aug 30

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation

Schötz, S. (Interviewee)
2019 May 30

Activity: OtherMedia participation

Schötz, S. (Interviewee)
2019 Apr 27

Activity: OtherMedia participation

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