Skip to main content
Login | Suomeksi | På svenska | In English

Browsing by Author "Komonen-Kauramäki, Jaana"

Sort by: Order: Results:

  • Komonen-Kauramäki, Jaana (2020)
    Animals and humans communicate in various ways, using for instance motion, gestures and sounds. Through domestication humans now share the same habitat with a number of species. A centuries-old common history with cats has affected both cats’ behavior and vocalization and possibly human behavior as well. Human speech contains acoustic information beyond the linguistic content. An example of the acoustic structures are fast-repeated, pulsed vocalizations, shown to activate for instance dogs. These structures are thought to be universal in communication with domestic species, possibly for all mammals and birds. Still, not all sounds work the same way for all species. Besides universal structures there are probably species-specific features in calls initiated by humans. We call all domestic animals differently and in a species-specific way, but the common goal is to engage the individual’s attention, and have it approach the caller. People call cats in various ways in different countries, but nevertheless the calls share some common acoustical features. Here, the goal of the study was to find out if people from various language and cultural backgrounds use short, fast-repeated sounds to call cats and to find out similarities in the usage of call sounds higher in frequency than speech. For this, I asked people from various language and cultural background to fill in a questionnaire and give audio samples of a call, instructing them to have an unknown cat approach them. The short, fast-repeated sounds from the calls were extracted and features analyzed using various computer programs. The data were statistically analyzed to find out 1) if the repeated sound frequency spectra differ from the spectra of calls including only speech, 2) the effect of cat ownership and language background to call repetition, 3) the effect of cat ownership and language background to call frequency, and 4) the effect of call origin (inheritance) and experience (cat ownership) to call properties. Altogether 56 adults participated in the study. The subjects were from 19 different countries and represented 16 different native languages. 86% of the calls included fast-repeated, short, pulsed segments. The duration and frequency of the calls differed depending on the repeated sound. The fastest repetition rate was with various clicking sounds. The highest frequency content was with calls including “s” sound, such as “pss” and “kss”, and various lip-smacking sounds. While there were differences in the repeated segments depending on the language background of the caller, the common pattern was that the spectral center of gravity in sound frequency was higher for the fast-repeated, short segments than for calls including only speech. In summary, human-to-cat calls have a high frequency content and include short, fast-repeated sound segments regardless of the language background of the caller, in order to get cat’s attention and have it approach the caller. For the follow-up study I suggest expanding the subject population to different language backgrounds. In addition, the call sounds should be compared to predator sounds. Further, the effectiveness of the call sounds could be tested with cats or kittens.