Getting to the Bottom of Cat Communication
Of the many things cat owners would likely discuss with their cats if they shared a language, their persnickety preferences might top the list. Even though we’re all dying to get to the bottom of what our cats are thinking at any given moment, if we stop and closely observe feline body language we may find they’re already giving us most of the facts.
Without a doubt, cat communication is subtle, but if you listen closely they speak volumes.
Starting with the Tail
The tail of a cat is a barometer of their moods. You might notice an erect, quivering tail. This means they’re jazzed to see you. Curled at the end like a question mark means they’re feeling friendly. A puffed up, swinging tail portrays agitation or anger. A tail that’s low to the ground is a signal to back off.
If you’re petting your cat and all of a sudden their tail begins to whip around, they’re giving you a warning to stop. Alternatively, your cat may use their tail as an additional paw to hug you with while snuggling.
Those Beautiful Eyes
Cats are graced with beautifully-colored eyes, but they’re also useful in the art of cat communication. The size of the pupils, for example, may indicate whether a cat feels alert (narrow, slit-like pupils) or threatened (larger pupils). Like the tail, the eyes can express a great deal so be careful of what they’re saying to protect against a bite or a swat.
Also, when a cat blinks slowly at you or kind of squints, they are actually sort of kissing you with their eyes. It’s a sign of feline trust affection, and if you do it back to them, they’ll understand that you feel the same.
A+ in Cat Communication
Cats also express themselves in the following fantastically feline ways:
- Meowing is not often seen between cats, but is mostly used to communicate with people. Requests for food, attention, outside time, and more are all part of this cat communication tactic.
- Purring is a common sign of happiness, but it can also communicate pain.
- Hissing and yowling are used to convey anger or aggression.
- When they are really feeling the love, they will sort of bump you with the top of their head. Also known as “bunting”, this expression also helps mark their territory.
- Kneading is a cat’s way of remembering all the positive associations they have from kittenhood. This feature of cat communication signals absolute contentment.
- Exposing their belly is a sign that your cat trusts you.
- Take notice of how the ears look. If they’re ever pinned back, watch out.
Not only helpful in figuring out cat communication, knowing what’s normal for your cat may allow you to determine if they need help. Signs of illness and injury can be subtle, but shifts in their vocalizations, behavior, and appearance can indicate the need for a wellness appointment.