Washington When your dog says “Woof,” you hear an eager, “Let’s take a walk.” And your cat has a certain entitled meow that you know means, “Put more food in my bowl — now!”
You are not alone.
Sixty-seven percent of pet owners say they understand their animals’ barks, purrs and other sounds, according to an Associated Press-Petside.com poll released Wednesday. In a finding many parents of teenagers might envy, 62 percent of owners say that when they speak their pets get the message.
“I speak to her on limited subjects and she does the same with me,” said Stephen King, 63, a retired chemist from Kempner, Texas, who claims to understand his dog Dagny’s repertoire of barks signaling anger, eagerness, contentment and other feelings. “Common sense works 98 percent of the time.”
King is among the one-fifth of owners who said in the poll that they and their pets understand each other’s sounds completely.
The survey, conducted by GfK, shows that owners’ affection for their pets goes well beyond speaking their language. Even as a recession forces millions of families to curtail their budgets, just one in seven owners said they’ve been forced to trim spending on their pets in the past year. And more than four in 10 said they still plan to buy holiday gifts for their animals — about the same as last year.
More than seven in 10 women but fewer than six in 10 men say they and their pets understand each other’s efforts at communication. Older and lower-income people are especially likely to say they and their pets get the message.
Dog owners prevail over cat people when it comes to claims of successfully speaking to their animals: Three in 10 dog owners think their pets are baffled when they speak to them, compared with nearly half of cat owners who say the same.
When it comes to communicating in the other direction, cat owners do better. Twenty-five percent say they completely understand those meows, compared with 16 percent of dog owners who claim to be totally fluent in barks.
Some 74 percent of all pet owners have dogs, and 46 percent have cats, according to the poll. Twelve percent of pet owners have fish, 7 percent have birds, and 2 percent or fewer have horses, rabbits, rodents, turtles, lizards or other pets.