Cat Speak: Understanding Your Cat

Understanding your cat

Understanding your cat can be a challenge. Their independent spirits and confusing behaviors make us scratch our heads. But understanding our feline friends can make our relationship with them more rewarding.

While cats have lived alongside humans for thousands of years, they weren’t initially domesticated in the same way that dogs were. Instead, they gradually integrated themselves into our lives and communities.

Originally, cats were drawn to human settlements because towns and villages offered a ready supply of rodents to hunt. Humans quickly realized the benefits of having a skilled mouse hunter around, and a mutually beneficial relationship began. The cats we adore today are descendants of those early rodent-control specialists.

While modern cats enjoy the perks of a cozy home life, they retain the instincts of their wild ancestors. This means that cats don’t always communicate in ways we readily understand. So, if you’ve ever wondered what your feline friend is trying to tell you, here’s a guide to deciphering some common cat “language”:

1. The Slow Blink

Think of the slow blink as your cat’s way of giving you a warm smile. When your cat gazes at you and slowly blinks those big eyes, it’s a sign of affection and complete trust. Feel free to return the gesture to let your cat know the feeling is mutual!

2. Tail Talk

Cats use their tails as expressive communication tools. Observe your cat’s tail closely, and you’ll learn a lot about their mood:

Upright and Quivering: This is a happy greeting, signaling excitement and a desire to interact.

Tail Held High, Slightly Curved: This means that your cat is confident, content, and approachable.

Tail Tucked Low or Between Legs: This is usually a bad sign – your cat feels anxious or fearful.

Rapid Twitching: Fast movement of the tail means that your cat is annoyed or irritated – give them some space.

Puffed-Up Tail: This is the “Halloween cat” pose, indicating fear or aggression.

3. Kneading (aka “Making Biscuits”)

If your cat ever rhythmically pushes its paws against you (or a soft blanket), it’s not trying to get a baking career started! This behavior is rooted in kittenhood when kneading stimulated milk flow from their mother.

Adult cats knead when they feel relaxed, happy, and often as a prelude to taking a nap.

4.  Rubbing and Headbutts

Cats have scent glands in their cheeks and foreheads. When your cat rubs against you or gives you a gentle headbutt, they’re not just asking for attention, they’re leaving their scent on you. 

This also means they’re marking you as a part of their territory and as a member of their ‘pride.’

5. Showing Their Belly

This is where things get tricky! While an exposed belly might look like an invitation for rubs, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.

Some cats enjoy belly rubs, but many only tolerate them. Others view the exposed belly as a sign of trust but will react defensively if you touch it.

It’s best to proceed with caution – start with a slow head scratch and see how your cat reacts. Hissing or swiping paws means “hands off!”

A Rewarding Bond

Understanding your cat

Learning to read your cat’s unique language makes your relationship even more fulfilling. 

Keep in mind that every cat is an individual. Pay attention to how they combine the above signals with their specific vocalizations and other behaviors. With patience and observation, you’ll start to understand your cat a little better.

For More Information About This Subject Or General Questions You Can Contact:

Courie Dennis with Posh Paws Pet Care, LLC
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Or send us a note from our contact page here.