Do I understand their meaning? Do they understand me?

Of course you could have a common frame of reference.
Think of it this way:
People work with lions all of the time. They are trained to respond. They also naturally communicate in many ways. We have MORE in common with lions as mammals than we do with, snakes or with spiders or bacteria.

I don’t have a reference handy but it seems generally agreed that among the cat families, their behaviors are basically the same whether housecat or lion. [I can find it if you really wish].

Now, I have cats. I communicate with them. They communicate with me.

Do I understand their meaning? Do they understand me?

Well, how can we measure?

One way: behavior.

Behaviors match up on both the human and the cat side that indicate communication took place.

So, what’s missing?

Another example: one of the cats that I feed jumped up on the table just now. She’s about to nuzzle close and be really friendly. But – is she being friendly?

Perhaps. But I also know this is her way of getting my attention so that I respond by getting up out of the chair and feeding her, which I will do after this message.

Did we communicate? Yes. I just translated for you.

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