What is My Cat Trying to Tell Me? January 17 2017, 2 Comments
Your Rosetta Stone for understanding catspeak.
Okay, so we didn’t actually carve these tips on an ancient rock and wait for archaeologists to uncover it. But we do have some helpful insights into understanding what your witty kitty may be trying to tell you.
After all, cats aren’t quite the mysterious, inscrutable creatures they’ve been made out to be. I mean, they might have knowledge that stretches beyond the known limits of our universe and simply don’t have the language to express it. Probably not, though.
Cats, like most animals, communicate through a mix of vocalizations and body language. By learning to read the various cues your cat is giving you, you’ll be able to decipher the mysteries of catspeak in no time at all.
Behold, the humble meow. Your cat’s meow is its main way of communicating with you. Funnily enough, adult cats only meow to communicate with people. As such, the meow is your cat’s version of a Swiss Army knife, if you will, a sound used to tell you various things. A meow can be a simple greeting, a cry for attention, or even just a bored cat lookin’ for some fun. But let’s be honest: usually it’s a demand for more food.
“I can see the bottom of my bowl, Martha. Do you want me to starve?”
A chirrup or trill is somewhere between a meow and a purr. It’s a common way for cats to greet each other, or for queens to get their kittens to follow. If your cat trills at you, it might want some love and affection. A trill will often be accompanied with a tail raised high in greeting. Your cat might also be trying to lure you toward that most sacred of food bowls.
Chattering is that strange sound your cat makes when it stares longingly out the window at the birds and the squirrels, dreaming of the day it can finally get them in their claws. It’s a sound driven by cats’ innate hunting instinct; Some scientists say it replicates the killing bite that cats use to take down their prey.
Purring is mostly a sign that your cat is comfortable, relaxed and content. Cats might purr when they’re injured or feeling sick to comfort themselves. But usually, purring is just your cat really getting into that R&R groove. Purring is often accompanied by a cat kneading their favorite blanket (or their favorite human). Kneading is a behavior learned as kittens who knead their mother’s belly to stimulate the flow of milk. Kneading is always a sign of a happy, comfortable cat.
Yowling or caterwauling is the long, drawn-out meow you might hear echoing through your hallways at 4 o’clock in the morning. Cats yowl for various reasons. Excessive yowling could also be a sign of distress in older cats and may warrant a vet check-up. Or if your cat isn’t spayed, she may be yowling because she is in heat. It might even be that your cat’s internal hunting clock might be wired for the wee hours of the night, and they’re just lamenting that there’s nothing but dust bunnies to hunt.
Communicating with your cat is about more than just being a good listener: You also need to be observant. Body language is a huge part of how your cat communicates with you. Body posture, ear, tail and whisker position are all subtle cues that you can learn how to read to better understand how your cat is feeling.
Behold the Catloaf. Seeing your kitty like this should make you feel all warm ‘n toasty inside because your kitty is quite content. A cat in this loaf-like position isn’t ready to run away. It feels safe and secure enough to get all tucked in for a midday siesta. It’s also a convenient way to conserve body heat (unless you’ve got someone’s laptop to snuggle up to).
While akin to the catloaf, this body language isn’t nearly as heartwarming. A wide-eyed cat whose body is scrunched up with its tail wrapped tightly around its paws is exhibiting anxious behavior. A happy, confident cat will also keep its ears pointed forward. A nervous cat will have its ears slanted backwards and downward. You will notice the tension in your cat’s body as they plan some tactical escape maneuvers.
Tails can be tricky. A wagging tail does not a happy cat make! When your cat’s tail gets a-lashin’, get ready for a-scratchin’. Unlike a dog, a cat thrashing its tail wildly doesn’t mean it’s happy. Your cat is telling you it’s frustrated or over-stimulated and wants to be left alone.
A cat slowly twitching its tail or swaying it from side to side is not a sign of frustration or aggression. It means something has caught your cat’s keen attention and they’re focused on it.
A cat with its tail held up high above its head, with its ears and head held high and whiskers pointed forward is givin’ off friendly vibes and wants some Class-A pets. Your cat might even lift its tail when you call its name from across the room, signaling its happy to hear your voice and is ready for some lovin’s.
If your cat’s back is arched and their bristling tail is held low, this is a sign that your cat feels threatened or upset and may be getting ready to attack. Their eyes will also be wide and their pupils fully dilated, and cats will stare down whatever they think is the threat.
And finally, the infamous tummy trap. As hard as it is to resist, a cat lying on its back and showing you its belly is not an open invitation for pets. When Mr. Mittens rolls on his back and shows you that fluffy tum, what he’s really trying to tell you is that he feels completely safe around you. He trusts you not to touch his belly. In the wild, a cat would never show its vulnerable underbelly to someone it regarded a threat. That belly may say pet me, but those claws say “Get the Band-Aids, Bob. Mr. Mittens got me again.”
By: Cortney Licata