The ancient Egyptians worshipped them, but you still can’t figure out why they sleep all day, destroy your furniture, and appear to want nothing to do with you like a moody teenager. Cats. They are curious creatures and their relationship with humans can sometimes be puzzling. While science doesn’t have all the answers to explain cat behaviour, we have come to learn a lot. Here are a few things to keep in mind when communicating with man’s feline friend:
You’re the Cat’s Meow
Have you ever noticed that adult cats don’t meow with one another? No, they reserve that behaviour for their human mommies and daddies. Kittens meow for their mothers. Scientists believe cats later outgrow that behaviour once weaned and no longer in the care of their mothers. They then learn to re-use it when communicating with their human parents. It’s believed that cats develop unique meows for different needs. You may have noticed the long and short meows with varied pitch frequencies. Your cat learned quickly that a meow elicits attention from you and has developed a subset of meows for specific needs like food, cuddling, or help.
It’s commonly accepted that purring cats are happy cats, but that may not always be the case. Cats sometimes also purr while injured or sadly, when passing on to kitty heaven. Purring is a vibration that is felt throughout the cat’s body and some scientists believe that cats use purring to calm themselves, keep fit and healthy, or even cure themselves. Statistically, cats have much lower instances of osteoarthritis and joint problems. Could it be that the vibrations from purring also heal cats in addition to communicating their affection?
Interested in more information about cats? Check out our article about Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
I Knead You
Cats have many ways to show that they love, appreciate, and trust you. One way is through a kneading action, mimicking what your cat did as a kitten when nursing. Another sign of relaxation and comfort is when cats lie and their backs, calling out for attention, treats, or dare we say, a belly rub. But beware! An exposed belly doesn’t always indicate a willingness to have you touch your cat. Look for other signs that indicate discomfort, like ears pinned back or an active tail.
Hissing, Growling, and the Whip of a Tail
Speaking of discomfort, there’s no mistaking a cat’s hiss or growl. This is a signal to keep your distance and usually indicates unhappiness, anger, aggression, fear, so general displeasure. Watch the tail, as well. A tail that whips back and forth could mean fear or aggression while a puffed-up tail making the cat appear bigger also can indicate a severely agitated state.
Other Puzzling Cat Behaviors:
- Headbutting and rubbing their head to release pheromones and mark territory, otherwise saying “You’re Mine”;
- Blinking slowly to indicate trust and comfort;
- Scratching furniture (usually) and rarely the scratching post to designate boundary lines and mark territory;
- Chattering teeth to mimic prey or indicate anticipation or frustration;
- Squeezing into a box, bag, or anything else small and cramped to feel safe and secure;
- Sprinting about in a random burst of energy, well, just because they do!
Cats are complicated and you need to evaluate all of these communication methods to help inform your understanding of what kitty is trying to tell you.
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