Cat Communication 101: How to Better Understand Your Feline
Published July 12, 2012
While there are several excellent programs available that facilitate folks in learning a new language, sadly even Rosetta Stone doesn’t offer a teaching manual to assist cat guardians in becoming more fluent in the language of the cat. Even though most cats are able to understand many words in the spoken human language, even though they are in their own way verbally adept, unfortunately feline vocal cords are not built to “talk” words to us.
Recently I have received several emails from feline-lovers asking me how to communicate more directly with their cats. So I thought this would be a purr-fect opportunity to shed some light on the subject by offering suggestions which may help cat guardians broaden their cat-vocabulary, making it easier to understand and “speak” with their kitties.
Tail-language is a simple and direct way cats send messages to other felines and their humans about their moods and what’s on their minds.
A peaceful, contented kitty may carry the tail vertically in a relaxed manner. This message generally means, “All is right with the world.” If the tip of the tail is “S” shaped, this is a friendly message.
However, if the tail starts swishing from side to side and the velocity is increasing, that message translates into, “I am angry or highly upset about something.”
A tail that resembles a “Halloween” cat’s message is generally, “I am furious about something – so watch out!” A “bottle brush” tail can also mean that kitty was frightened suddenly. This said, however, when Dr. Hush Puppy and Sir Hubble Pinkerton, our two Oriental Shorthair cats bush their tails starting at its base, their message to me is, “I am ecstatic happy to see you – continue petting me please.”
Oh course; it doesn’t take linguistic skill to interpret a “scaredy” cat’s tail message. When the tail is tucked between the legs, or held low to the ground, kitty may be scared or acting submissively.
Cats’ ears are not only meant to “hear you better, my dear”, they are a veritable treasure chest, filled with all sorts of “unspoken” kitty thoughts once we stop to “listen”. When ears are plastered against the head, this is an urgent warning signal that your kitty is beyond annoyed. In fact it may mean that your cat is in preparation mode to enter into battle. However, when ears are pointed forwards or perked, this is a sign that his curiosity has been aroused, wants to play and his spirit is high.
While cats’ “eyes may be the windows to the soul”, they are also inordinately expressive. Unless the room is darkened, dilated pupils means kitty is hyper attentive, fearful of being attacked, or is feeling aggressive. Slow blinking is a sure sign that the cat is feeling relaxed and secure. As Jackson Galaxy suggests, blink slowly back your cat, with an “I love you” message and most likely kitty will exchange a loving blink with you.
Take a crash course in Cat Speak to become more fluent in the art of feline communication.