Published on November 24th, 2017 | by Debbie Martin0
What is Your Cat Trying to Tell You?
There has been a proliferation of TV programmes recently which try to teach us about the body language of dogs and how they communicate. But what about cats? Even though our feline friends have a reputation for aloofness this doesn’t mean that they don’t try to communicate with us.
Cats, like every other creature on earth, have their own language and their very own way of letting us know exactly what it is they want from us. All you have to do is work out what your cat is trying to say to you. Easier said than done? Not if you follow these handy tips, kindly provided for us by clinical animal behaviourist Professor Daniel Mills.
Read the Signs
It is universally thought that a purring cat denotes a contented cat. But think again because this is not necessarily so. When a human smiles it’s often assumed that this means he or she is happy but sometimes a smile can be an indication that something is wrong and help is needed. So it can be with cats. Your beloved moggy could indeed be purring out of sheer contentment; it could also mean that he is looking for help or attention. Verbal signals can also combine with body language to indicate a cat’s feelings and intentions. Read on to find out what that intense stare, among other things, means.
The eyes have it, so they say, and a cats eyes can say a lot about his state of mind. If the pupils are dilated and the eyes are wide this could mean he is aroused or excited, like just before he pounces on some unsuspecting mouse. If you see his ears pulled back and flattened to the top of his head this is often a sign of fear or frustration. You’ll most likely see this in a fight or flight situation where he feels threatened by something and has to make a decision. This can sometimes be accompanied by a tail slowly flicking from side to side. In situations like these you will sometimes see that his fur is standing on end in an effort to appear larger than he actually is.
Whereas a flicking or waving tail can mean irritation and/or indecision, a tail that is relaxed indicates a relaxed disposition. And a relaxed cat is the best kind of cat to have!
Relaxation is also indicated by a cat tucking his paws underneath his body. In this position he’s saying “I’m happy and chilled out”. However if his paws are exposed this could mean he’s ready to run away if he has to.
An aggressive cat will often, just like a dog, bare his teeth and his mouth will appear tense and stretched. Not what you want to see in your moggy! What you do want to see is puss showing widely spaced, relaxed whiskers because this is a sure sign of a happy, calm, contented cat.
What Makes a Happy Cat?
Now that you know what signs to look for in the cats body language this can be useful if you’re looking to bring a new cat into your home. You can move on to learning how to spot signs of happiness and contentment in your cat and how to make sure he stays that way.
A cat that is in control of his living situation is one that will be calm and happy. Providing a happy life for your cat couldn’t be simpler; all he wants is to feel comfortable, safe and secure in his surroundings and to know that he is regularly fed and watered. A sure sign of a cat who knows he’s got the metaphorical cream is to see him sleeping upside down on his bed. If he’s half in and half out he’ll be secure in the knowledge that he’s got his bed all to himself. If you have more than one cat there’s no guarantee that they will like each other and a good indicator of this can be seen in how, or whether they sleep together. If your cats are happy to share the same bed in close proximity then you’ve nothing to worry about because this means they’re genuinely happy in each other’s company. Cats that sleep more than a metre apart from each other or in separate rooms altogether, really don’t like each other and are merely tolerating each other.
If your cats are happy to play together and groom each other’s fur this is another sign of happiness and friendship. And if your cats do this you can consider yourself blessed indeed because cats are by nature often solitary rather than sociable creatures. However it is possible to encourage cats to be more tolerant of each other’s company particularly in the early stages of introducing a new cat into the home. It just requires patience along with plenty of food and plenty of space.
Your Cat and You
Cats, as we all know if we have heard the midnight cacophony of noise that only warring tomcats can make, are vocal creatures with hisses, howls and purrs among their vocabulary. However when a cat meows it does so only for us because, clever creature that he is he’s learned that this is the noise that elicits a reaction from us.
We often think that when a cat rubs and entwines himself around our legs he’s showing affection. What he’s really doing though is marking his territory by depositing chemicals onto you as a familiarisation technique. This is why when you come home and you smell of unfamiliar places he’ll do it again to re-establish comforting familiarity. At least it’s better than him urinating in your bag!
With careful observation of your cat’s behaviour, you may spot signs your cat is comfortable, or perhaps that something is amiss. Learning how your cat acts on a regular basis will make it easier for you to determine if there’s something wrong.