By Natasha Hinde in Huffpost Lifestyle.
While it might seem a little weird imagining your cat with a Geordie accent, one Swedish phonetics expert has set out to discover whether cats actually miaow with an accent.
Suzanne Schötz from Lund University in Sweden has launched a new study into how cats communicate.
The aim is to help her fellow humans understand their pets better.
To conduct the study, Schötz has recruited people and their pet cats from various areas across Lund and Stockholm, which both have very different dialects.
She then hopes to discover whether cats from these different regions have their own accents too.
Schötz, who has three cats, also hopes to investigate whether different miaows mean different things – for example, “I want food”, “let me out”, etc – as well as if cats respond differently based on how we talk to them.
Schötz hopes to investigate whether cats react better to being spoken to like a small child or being spoken to as an adult.
Researchers will measure this by recording different speaking styles from various people and playing it back to the cats in their home.
“We will look at ear movements, head movements, body posture, and things like that,” she told The National Geographic.
Interestingly, Schötz said that cats miaow as a way of communicating with humans, not necessarily other cats, who they communicate with using visual and scent signals.
She hopes the findings from the study will enable humans to better understand what their feline friends are saying.
“Maybe certain breeds will use certain melodies, or cats living in countries where human speech has certain melodic patterns will vocalise differently,” she said.
“If we can find that cats adopt these melodies, we may be able to help cat owners interpret these signals better.”