I have noticed over time that dogs and cats have their separate languages. They will use different tones to express their meaning, as well as different movements and body language. A cat who rubs against you is very different from the dog who rubs against you.

They also respond differently to spoken language (English, anyway; others I can not be certain of). Dogs seem by nature to respond to commands. They want to be told clearly and constantly in short bold and imperative sentences. Cats on the other hand refuse to move for such a modality. They refuse to obey direct commands and ignore declarative statements. To approach a cat one needs to be inquisitive, ask it a question, engage it in a discussion that always leaves alternatives. In simple terms, be firm and direct with a dog; leave a cat to make a conclusion for itself (with your direction.)

A firm illustration of these principles in operation can be seen in dogs and cats and their names. Dogs, as we have noted, need to be addressed with short, firm imperatives and display that in the names they respond to. They react best to names that have only one strong syllable, names such as King, Max, Duke, Bess, etc. Cats react best to names of two syllables, preferably names that end with a rising inflection (like a question) especially those ending with the “-ee” sound such as Sally, Marty, Fluffy, or even (god forbid) Kitty. Just as long as the two vowel sounds are different and the name ends with an upward inflection.

For example, I have a friend who named her cat Deedee. It sounded fine but the cat refused to acknowledge it. I suggested that she change the initial vowel sound, and call her cat Dodie. She did. The cat responds.

Name your cat or dog carefully. Your whole relationship may depend on that word.