Cats have pretty much mastered communication, especially when it comes to getting what they want from their humans. They are also highly adaptable and can easily learn to communicate in other ways when a situation calls for it or, when one of their senses is missing.
Kim Silva, a retired teacher for the American School for the deaf, started to teach her cats sign language after deciding she would adopt a deaf cat.
Kim and her husband, who are both deaf, were ready to bring a new cat into the family when they spotted Bambi on PetFinder. In preparation Kim began teaching signs to the cats she already had, her goal was to help Bambi integrate quickly and live the best life possible in her new home.
Kim trained her two cats Bobcat and Bear first and tells the Huffington Post that “Bobcat immediately understood…while Bear, was very old and was not interested. Bobcat learned one sign after another until he learned the new vocabulary…he was a sponge for sign language! He showed off. He was fabulous.”
This helped Bambi, once she arrived in the home, who picked up the signs even more easily by copying Bobcat. For Kim the teaching didn’t end there, after Bear passed away she taught her new cat Thomasina who picked it up even faster.
The cats current vocabulary includes the words “come, more, sit, stay, shake, high-five, sleep, circle, shrimp, play, canned food, finish, and dance. Off must be spell out, letter by letter“. She hopes to teach the cats to learn the sign for food and plans to work on this with Bambi and Thomasina.
The cats enjoy communicating and clearly love the interaction with their humans
Kim hopes that the video of her demonstrating the signs will be shared and inspire others to adopt deaf cats and teach them sign language as well. Remember when doing any training with your cat to always use positive reinforcement and of course lots of treats.