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cats and dogs
intelligent animals
ways of communication
water bowl
sparkling clean
body language
Cat Talk: How To Communicate With Your Cat
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We all know that cats, being intelligent animals, communicate all the time with other cats and us, their tolerated companions. The question is, how to communicate with your cat? We have all heard of and seen videos of talking cats and dogs, but what are they really saying? All felines have their own personalities, and ways of communication. Interpreting cat speak is a sometimes confusing process, depending on the individual cat’s personality, and ego. When trying to understand your cat, look at their vocalizations, body language, and eye contact.

What is your cat saying when she meows? If, like me, you happen to have an extremely vocal feline, well, do your best! I still don’t know why my cat Rowena feels the need to wake me up at 3 in the morning by sitting nearly on my head and “yow”ing right in my face. She is a needy cat, and when she feels she isn’t getting enough attention, she isn’t afraid to let me know. She will follow me from room to room hollering at me until I take some time for her. I know her insistent high pitched “meow nnow” means “get your but out of bed and feed me!” But as for the other 70 percent of her yodeling, well, I just try to asses the current situation. Perhaps her litter isn’t sparkling clean, or her water bowl has a few bits of hair floating in it.

We recently had an earthquake, my first one ever, and I believe it was hers as well. I can't be sure, having rescued her from an unsafe home. Anyway, minutes before the actual quake, Rowena went tearing through our home, leaping over her adopted brother Big Boy, and emitting a high pitched wail. Seconds later, the whole apartment started swaying. I know that she was trying to tell me that something was going on.

Cats are very sensitive creatures, and, like I said before, each one is as different from the other as we humans are. Cats also know that we ourselves communicate by voice, so perhaps when we aren’t quite catching their ear twitches and tail messages, they resort to what they think is our own language.When your cat is vocalizing, there is a reason, we just have to try to decipher it.

Besides vocalizing, cats communicate with us and other animals using body language. A feline laying on your floor on their back with their limbs akimbo means a happy, submissive, trusting animal. A cat with its ears flat and tail twitching signifies a feline on alert, uncertain and frightened, although a cat with their ears pointed forward and tail twitching could mean that they are up for a game of pounce and run.

The same thing goes for a purring feline. A happy cat in your lap, being petted and loved will most likely be purring. But also, an ailing feline will purr to promote healing. Have you ever seen your cat sitting in a stately sphinx position? That is one confident, happy cat. What about when you turn the vaccum on and your sedate feline jumps 3 feet in the air with its back hunched and furr sticking up. NOT a happy confident cat, rather, a shocked and later annoyed cat. Once again, each feline is different. The body language of a kitten can resemble the same as an adult, but mean completely different things.

Another mode of body language resides just in a feline's ears! Did you know that cats have 32 muscles in their ears? Compare that to only 6 muscles in the human ear. A cat can turn their ear towards a sound 10 times faster than man's supposed best friend, the watchdog. They can also rotate them 180 degrees. But cats ears also play an important role in expressing thier mood to other felines. You may look at your furry friend, and see them resting in a comfortable position, but thier ears are out and to the side. This apparently at ease animal may have been annoyed by something, and this ear position is a warning to back off or perhaps, "Turn that radio off!" An angry, scared cat may combine a hunch backed position with ears back, flat against the head, and a "hiss" to boot. When decoding your cats language, body language is important, but the state of their ears can change the whole picture!

As for eye contact, that can be tricky. Cats find eye to eye contact a form of aggression in other felines. I have caught Big Boy staring at me from across the room, and when I look him in the eyes, he closes his in a slow deliberate wink, and then refuses to look at me anymore. Maybe I embarrassed him, caught him staring. Some think the slow blink is a way of communicating “hey, relax, no fuss here”. A happy confident cat will appear to be half asleep, because cats only focus fully on something if they are preparing for action. They have amazing peripheral vision, which they use most of the time. They can appear to be gazing off into space, when in actuality they are taking in a whole room and the view out the window!

Now, a cat with wide open eyes and dilated pupils is either very frightened cat, or an excited one. Their pupils not only respond to light and dark, but to their mood as well. The bigger the pupils, the more exited the cat, either frightened or maybe happy to see their owner. A confident cat, maybe up to no good and about to pounce on their brother or sister, would have small contracted pupils, which help it to focus in on whatever they are about to do. In my experience, though, cats aren’t big on eye contact. They seem to prefer just some simple lap time, accompanied with a purr.

One last way a cat or any other feline communicates, is with scent. Hmmm, how to communicate with your cat using scent? Well, its really them communicating to other animals. When your loved bundle of fur comes up to you and rubs their head all over your face or your ankles, they are actually “marking” you as theirs! They do it to the legs of chairs and corners of tables as well. A feline has several gland spots on the temples, corners of the mouth, chin and base of the tail. They rub these spots on whatever they want, thus transferring their scent onto the objects, or people. This can be to create a communal household smell, as well as to let all the other cats out there know that “hey, this is MY human”.

One unpleasant side of the scent thing is cat spray. UGGHHH. Have you ever tried to get rid of the smell?? Nearly impossible without a good product. However, to other cats, this highly offensive smell gets the word out that somebody is ready to have a good time tonight!!! One of the best ways to prevent your cat from spraying is to get him/her fixed before they are too old.

So, being a cat lover, you already know that your companion is a unique individual. Perhaps some of these explanations can help you to figure out what your cat is trying to say to you, or why they do the things they do, like running over your husband in the middle of the night, every night. I personally get the feeling that some cats don’t want to be understood no matter how hard you try. But understanding that they don't want to be understood is just fine. Others though, love all the attention they can get. Take the time to watch your feline friend at rest and at play, pay attention to their body language, eyes, and “meows”, and you will begin to pick up their moods and feelings. A happy cat is he who is understood by his companion(you).


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