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FluentPet For Cats Review: Do These Communication Buttons Work?

Can you teach cats to use communication buttons, and will they "talk" back? I review the popular FluentPet talking buttons.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: April 19, 2024 | 6 min read

Cat pawing at FluentPet talk buttons.

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You’ve probably seen the viral videos of dogs “talking” to their human companions, most famously Bunny the Sheepadoodle. With 8.6 million followers on TikTok, Bunny and her owner have encouraged many others to try communicating with their furry friends. But do talking buttons work with felines?

There are many communication buttons on the market, but one of the most popular is FluentPet. So, when it was time to test communication buttons, FluentPet was first on my list.

Does FluentPet work for cats? With the help of my two girls, Luna and Lucy, I tested out FluentPet’s talking buttons.

How Does FluentPet Work?

FluentPet talking buttons let you record a word to teach it to your pet. In the most basic steps, you:

  1. Choose a word and record it on a button
  2. Press the button and model the word
  3. Repeat until your pet understands what the button signifies

4 Key Features

  1. All kits include buttons, foam tiles, and ideogram sticker sheets for labeling
  2. Easy-to-press sound buttons
  3. HexTiles let you group and organize words
  4. Lots of online resources, including a four-stage guide to button communication

FluentPet Review

FluentPet Review

FluentPet talk buttons with box.
  • Three different button styles (basic, louder, and Wi-Fi enabled)
  • Various kit sizes
  • Requires only a few steps
  • No training background required
  • Designed for all kinds of learners

Before ordering FluentPet, I took its online quiz to determine the size of kit I should order. PetFluent offers a “Tester Kit” for hesitant learners, a “Get Started Kit” for steady learners, and a “Key Vocab Kit” for rapid learners. The two-minute quiz helps you determine your pet’s readiness for learning. It includes questions regarding your kitty’s age and learning style.

FluentPet for cats package and instructions.
My cats had two different learning results (hesitant learner vs. bold learner), so I split the difference and went with the Steady Learner starter kit, which featured three tiles and six buttons.
Photo by Tara Maurer for LoveYourCat.com, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024

First Impressions

When I first received the communication buttons, my girls were super interested. While they didn’t understand how the buttons worked, they both seemed very interested in the soft tiles—even rolling and rubbing on them.

The buttons are touch-sensitive, so your kitty doesn’t have to exert much pressure to activate them. The soft tiles keep the buttons from moving all around, which is one of the reasons I chose FluentPet over its competitors. Overall, I was impressed with the quality and design.

Cat using FluentPet talk button.
The buttons are the perfect size for tiny paws.
Photo by Tara Maurer for LoveYourCat.com, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024

Setting Up FluentPet

FluentPet gives you step-by-step instructions for setting up your buttons, which includes helpful tips for getting started.

The first step is to set up your first HextTile. FluentPet recommends one button per HexTile to begin. But let’s take a step back. The most important part of setting up the HexTile is choosing a word and programming the button. FluentPet recommends starting with a word that motivates your pet—though they warn against “treat,” as this could confuse your feline and make it believe that button-pressing means they get a food reward.

I decided to choose the word “play.” My cats love playtime, and it would be a word that I could easily model once the button was pressed.

To record my first word, I pulled the plastic tab at the bottom of the button to activate it. Then, I flipped the small switch on the side of the button so I could record my first word. I held the button for three seconds until it beeped, recorded my word, and released the button. Finally, I flipped the switch back to its original position.

From there, I removed the insert from the HexTile and inserted the sound button in its place.

FluentPet talk buttons for cats on a marble background.
You can add up to six buttons per tile.
Photo by Tara Maurer for LoveYourCat.com, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024

Training With FluentPet

How did it go with training our cats? Let’s see how they did.
Photo by Tara Maurer for LoveYourCat.com, © Cover Story Media, Inc. 2024

The idea behind training with FluentPet is that you must model the word in some way so your feline can learn it. For example, I say the word/phrase out loud (“Do you want to play?”), then press the corresponding button and engage in the action just described. FluentPet recommends that you continue doing this until your pet learns to hit the button themselves.

Over a few weeks, I would ask Luna and Lucy if they wanted to play and then press the button and model the behavior. Despite constantly engaging in playtime, they never took the step to hit the button to initiate play. While they would accidentally hit the button, they weren’t pressing it intentionally.

I decided to try a different approach, using reward-based training to teach them how to press the buttons. My cats have used clicker training before to learn tricks (spin, sit, shake, etc.), so with the proper reward, they would gain more interest and learn to hit the button independently.

As soon as the treat bag came out, their ears perked up. For this training, I decided to create a new button. I called this button “kisses,” which I say when I give them scratches, cuddles, and general loving. Whenever I say, “Do you want kisses?” they come running and rub against my leg, so I know they interpret the word as something positive.

I sat down by the button and pressed it. I followed this by giving them some scratches. Then, I would hold a treat in my hand above the button and gently tap, tap, tap on the button without activating it to indicate that that is what they needed to do for a reward. After watching me do this multiple times, each cat eventually reached their paw out for the treat. I would reward them each time with a treat and scratches, regardless of whether the button went off. As we progressed, I would wait for them to hit the button fully before rewarding them with scratches and a treat.

We’ve been practicing this new technique for a few days now. Each time, I essentially start from the beginning, where I tap the button and act out the word, and progress by making them hit the button themselves. It’s slow going, but I think we are making progress.

Pros & Cons

ProsCons
Easy-to-press buttonsTile slides around on floor
Clear, high-quality soundMore expensive than others
Room for expansion
Durable
45-day satisfaction guarantee

Final Verdict

Based on quality alone, I would recommend FluentPet. These buttons are high quality and very easy to set up. However, the bigger question is: Will these work to teach my cats to communicate?

Unfortunately, that answer depends on you and your pet. The buttons are a great bonding exercise and force your cats to use their brains, but only if you’re both willing to work hard. This type of training requires lots of patience and consistency.

How Much Does FluentPet Cost?

Each Basic Buttons kit comes with 35 ideogram stickers to label each button. FluentPet also sells Speak Up button kits with improved sound quality, ensuring you can hear buttons even in the next room. FluentPet’s latest Smarter Connect buttons also send real-time notifications to your phone—like text messaging with your favorite feline.

FluentPet sells its buttons and tiles a la carte, and you can also shop accessories, like edge pieces.

PriceButtons (batteries included)HexTiles
Tester KitCheck on Amazon21
Get Started KitCheck on Amazon63
Key Vocab KitCheck on Amazon126

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about FluentPet. Don’t see yours? Ask us in the comments.

Do Cats Understand Words?

Cats can understand human language in the same way we understand meowing, meaning they recognize what we are saying through vocalization, expressions, and gestures. While cats don’t have a linguistic understanding of words, they can comprehend what you are trying to communicate through tone and association.

Does FluentPet Work For Cats?

Yes, you can use FluentPet with cats. While communication buttons initially gained popularity through use with dogs, felines can use them, too. Remember that teaching your cat to use communication buttons requires lots of repetition and patience. But it can be done. Several TikTok accounts featuring cats use communications buttons, including Justin Beiber the Cat and A Kitty Named Winter.

Enriching Your Cat’s Life

Teaching your cat to use communication buttons is just one of the many ways you can enrich its life. Other great options include allowing indoor cats to explore the outdoors through catios, outdoor tunnelsstrollers, or even leash training. Interactive toys like wands and laser pointers provide exercise, prevent boredom, and encourage bonding between you and your pet. Other environmental enrichment options include cat trees, window perches, and scratching posts.

Why Trust Love Your Cat?

Tara’s goal at Love Your Cat is to provide our readers with the information they need to raise well-adjusted, happy cats. Tara has 20+ years of experience with felines and spends countless hours researching to provide in-depth detail on every topic. She lives with two nine-year-old domestic cats, Luna and Lucy, and is training them to use the FluentPet communication buttons.

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