Understanding your cat’s chat

Many pet owners would admit to having lengthy conversations with their animals. They are great listeners, and they can’t spill any secrets! Unfortunately they can’t talk back to us in words, but their bodies say a lot. Animaltalk helps you get the message.

The cat kiss

Has your cat ever given you an intense stare, and then slowly blinked her eyes? This might look intimidating, but it’s just the opposite. Your cat isn’t planning your demise, she is actually giving you some love and telling you that she is feeling comfortable and that she trusts you. [According to some sources you can ‘answer’ to this by giving your cat a slow blink in return. Animaltalk can confirm from experience that experimenting with this might not get any reaction from your cat, but you will get laughed at by other members of the household. Ed]

Rubbing against you

Your cat approaches you and with an elaborate movement rubs her head against you. No doubt this behaviour makes you feel loved! And it does mean she loves you, but more in a you-belong-to-me than in a you-are-awesome kind of way. By rubbing herself against you, your cat is getting her scent onto you, marking you as her territory. This is why she also rubs herself against other items in her surroundings. And here you thought your house belonged to you!

Kneading

This one is all too familiar. Your cat is relaxing on your lap when she starts to knead you with her paws. Her nails might make a (painful) appearance, but she is looking so relaxed that you just don’t have the heart to disturb her! This behaviour comes from when she was a kitten, massaging her mother’s teats to get the milk flowing. If she does this to you she is indeed feeling happy – experiencing the kind of comfort that can only come from a mother!

Funny cat face

This behaviour is also seen in the wild, as demonstrated by the lioness in this picture. And while it does look pretty funny, the technical term for it is the ‘Flehmen response’. This is when your cat sniffs something, then opens her mouth slightly while curling back her lips and squinting her eyes. This might make it look like she smelled something atrocious! By doing this your cat uses her Jacobson’s organ, an organ on the roof of her mouth connected to the nasal cavity. This way she can smell the object even better, in order to gain more information about it.

The stare

While the slow blink shows affection, direct eye contact is not so pleasant for your kitty. You know how cats tend to prefer that one person in the group who is not so much a cat person? It’s because that person is the one who is not staring at the cat, and thus the one she will find the least threatening. Wide open eyes along with dilated pupils can indicate that your cat is really not comfortable with something in her surroundings.

Hiss!

All of a sudden your cat’s fur seems to puff up and she crouches her back, making herself look larger and more threatening. Her ears are flat against her head, and her whiskers stiff, pointing to the front. If you are still unsure of what’s going on, the hard look in her eyes will definitely point you in the right direction! The message is pretty clear: “I am very angry, so back off!”

Tail talk

Your cat’s tail can give you a good indication of the mood she is in. When your cat is acting like a happy dog, in other words wagging her tail, she is not happy at all. If the tail is moving back and forth swiftly, your cat is irritated, and if the tail is moving slower she is still deciding how she is feeling about a given situation. A relaxed, upright tail shows a cheerful, relaxed cat who is happy to see you!

Chatterbox

If your cat is a ‘talker’, her vocalisations can go a long way in helping you understand her. Apart from the ‘normal’ meow which is fairly neutral (some cats do this just to say hi!), cats are known to make endearing ‘chirping’ noises. Interestingly, these vocalisations are used by mother cats to tell her kittens to follow her. If she does this with you, try following her! Chances are she might lead you to her food bowl.

If your cat utters long, drawn-out meows, she might be trying to tell you that something is wrong, or maybe that she’s stuck in a closet somewhere! In unsterilised cats this is part of mating behaviour – and let’s be honest, it’s not a nice sound to wake up to in the middle of the night. Just another reason why sterilisation is a must.

Relief

Your cat can show relief after a stressful situation – like going to the vet. Next time, observe how she acts upon getting back home. She might fully stretch out to release tension, while all parts of her body visibly relax. If she does these things, while also settling down for a nice grooming session, you might soon be forgiven for that trip to the vet.

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