Do you understand cat language? Do you talk to your cat? Communicating with your cat can help you to bond and experience a more fulfilling relationship.
How do cats communicate with us?
Cat language is a complex mixture of vocal communication and various forms of body language. Some cats are more vocal than others and some can have extensive vocabularies, others are quieter, while others have a one-sound-covers-all yowl.
However, all cats have body language that we can recognise:
- A tail that’s straight up means happy and a tail held low means it’s afraid.
- The eyes are important in cat’s language – diluted pupils means being playful, excited or aggressive; slow blinking indicates affection.
- Ears pinned back indicate fear or anxiety, while tongue flicking indicates worry or apprehension.
- Face sniffing is to confirm someone’s identity.
- A wet nose kiss can only mean affection.
- Licking is the ultimate sign of affection.
- Rubbing the head, body and tail against you is a greeting ritual, sign of affection or marking their territory.
- Many cats like to knead their owners – indicating they’re really happy. It’s a leftover from being a kitten when they massaged their mother’s teats for milk.
Recognising different emotions
You can also understand your cat’s language better by recognising the following emotions:
- A relaxed cat will lay comfortably, eyes half closed the whole body calm and supple. Being stroked may cause it to purr.
- An angry cat’s body will be rigid, fur erect, crouching threateningly, ears flat against the head, eyes hard and focused, tail stiff and straight.
- An anxious cat, for instance getting used to a new place, will have wide open, unblinking eyes with dilated pupils. The ears may move independently of each other, trying to find more information.
- A focused cat is completely concentrating on its prey or something new. The body is low with hind legs coiled to strike, while the pupils are narrowed. The tail might be twitching as it gets ready to pounce. Classic cat family behavior!
How can you communicate with your cat?
When you recognise your cat’s emotions, it’s important to respond in the appropriate way. Your reaction teaches the cat which of his demands result in a human response.
When you react to your cat’s language, your body language is very important. The cat will get the message from your tone of voice and accompanied signs. So if you want to get your cat off the kitchen counter, use a different tone of voice than when calling it to dinner. Be firm and consistent, and the cat will get the message.