Back in the Old Country — well, okay, Oregon — occasionally we would need to skip town now and then, and leave our cats with our parents. Our mom once marveled at how talkative they were, which struck us as an odd thing to say, because of course they were talkative. We talked to our cats all the time. And they talked back.
It’s really not hard to understand cats. “I’m hungry” and “I want outside” and “I’m fucking pissed” pretty much runs the conversation. (With dogs, it’s all “Do you love me?”) Talk to them like a grownup — “That tabletop is my turf!” — they’ll get the message.