Do you speak Hat?

I’m not quite sure what this picture is – an early example of Photoshopping, perhaps.

It just occurred to me whilst doing the washing up that I speak a very specialised language to my cats. I mean, you’d think when a person lives alone, the inside of their solitary dwelling would be perfectly silent. Certainly it was like that with my Mum in her latter years. No radio, no music, no nothing – just the clock ticking. But then she was deaf. And latterly she had those Voices to listen to.

I talk all the time, and so do my cats. Most of it would sound like gibberish to a non-Hat (Human-Cat) speaker, which is why I have hitherto resisted reproducing any of it. In any case, it’s difficult. Hat is a purely verbal/physical language. There is no dictionary of Hat, there are no books in Hat, not even a shopping-list. Cats, not possessing opposable thumbs (Ah, those opposable thumbs again – you just have to rub it in, don’t you?) have problems with pencils.

opposable thumb

So, an example of Hat might be something like (deep breath)

Are you all squirmy-wormy then?
Who’s my tiddly-widdly?
Are you a little wrigglecat?
Hello, Henny-Penny!
Are you an Arfur? Is that my little Arfur?

Cats supplement their briefer and rather more sensible replies (ow! eowww! prrrrrrr…. ) with a bit of basic body language and some primitive telepathy which is nevertheless more advanced than the human version.

I remember in my Glory Days (when brain still working) doing an Open University linguistics course – fascinating! There was a language they mentioned called Motherese – also known as Infant-Directed Speech (IDS) Child-Directed Speech (CDS) and Caretaker Speech). It is the language a mother speaks to her baby, and apparently it helps the baby to develop language faster.

My cats have not yet started talking Human to me, for all my efforts to engage them in the process, but I suspect that is simply because they can’t be bothered. They probably switch to Human when I am out of the house, and refine their subjunctive verbs, adjectives, dependent clauses and dangling modifiers by discussing the rise and fall in the stock market.

I myself tend to be discreet about talking Hat, and take care not come out with any Hat phrase in company, or when I have visitors – unlike the rather lonely young woman I saw recently on The Supervet, who was happily supplying her own voice and the voice of her beloved pet, in order that the vet would fully understand what he was thinking and how he was feeling about everything. The dog had a very deep voice. Gruff, in fact.

Because if you start mixing Human with Hat – or for that matter Hog, Hudgie, Herbil or Harrot – some people will think you are Mad, or at the very least Eccentric, and will smirk behind your back. If you don’t believe me, read the All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot. Look out for a wealthy client by the name of Mrs Pumphrey, who owns a much loved but very spoilt Pekingese (Tricki Woo). Tricki Woo suffers from all manner of maladies, and each has its own technical term – Flopbot, Crackerdog…

cat pearl

6 thoughts on “Do you speak Hat?

  1. LOL! All Creatures Great and Small was our favorite show for years, and I have my big “Best of James Herriott” book right over there, still. Wonderful! As for Hat, I speak/purr it, but I also found that just about anything asked in question form seems to suit a cat, because he or she is really the one who has something to say — one just needs to open the door to it, right? I think we cat folks would appreciate you’re posting some of your homeful conversations with cats. šŸ™‚

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      1. We watch a lot of PBS (Public Broadcasting Station) which is privately funded and which offers very good British shows/BBC all these decades. In my opinion, we may as well call them Bri(llian)tish shows! We check that channel and its affiliate public tv stations nearly every night! I think British tv programming may be why Americans feels closer to the British than do the British to Americans!

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      2. Maybe although we do get an endless supply of American and Canadian TV series on Freevie, and even more if you have Sky etc. I’m not too keen on all the shouty crime series with lashings of lip gloss, and humour tends not to survive the Atlantic, but do relish all the Sci Fi epics and even bad Fantasy. I know Canadian Sister watches a lot of British TV on a ‘special channel’ and is a particular fan of Coronation Street, and the cozy detective Rosemary & Thyme.

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      3. Oh, we used to get some Canadian tv…I just realized we haven’t had any since our signal went (mandatorily) digital. American tv shows are notoriously predictable/insulting/boring. I would apologize to the world, lol, but it won’t change our programming any.

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  2. Oh yes…the maladies of Tricki Wu! I must dig out my Herriotts again.
    I would not like others to hear me speaking to the dogs…apart from the swearing when Sophie yet again brings in an ancient and smelly bone which I thought I had disposed of outsiders might find it strange to find one of the Staffies addressed as chookie pig….

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