Cracking the Kitty Code: Understanding Your Feline Friend's Language

Cats don’t speak English (or French or German or any other human language). But they communicate in their language, which is cat. Whether you’re a new cat owner or not, knowing what those vocalizations and body language mean is a good idea. This can help you meet your cat’s needs while deepening your bonds of affection.

Recognizing Vocalizations

To understand what your cat might be telling you, one cue is their vocalizations. Cats offer unique sounds, from mellow meows to horrific hisses. Let’s examine what these might mean.

Meowing: Greetings and Salutations

Here’s a fun fact: Adult cats typically don’t meow at each other. This might be hard to believe, especially if your cat is a chatterbox.

Pay attention to the timing and context when your cat chatters. If it’s close to dinnertime, your cat might be reminding you that his food bowl is empty. If you’re coming home from work, she might be greeting you. A mellow meow might mean your friend wants to strike up a conversation, while a more strident tone suggests she needs something – right this minute!

Here’s another fun fact: You can train your cat to meow less with consistent positive reinforcement. If meowing is food-driven, feed your cat at specific times of the day. If he is meowing for attention, don’t give in. Instead, wait until he quiets down. Then, offer the reward with your attention and treats.

Growling or Hissing: Stay Away!

Your cat’s growls and hisses can mean she’s frightened, annoyed, or mad. This is your fluffy friend’s signal to give her some space. The wrong move on your part could turn your ball of fluff into an attack machine. If she’s in this mood, keep your distance and talk soothingly until she calms down.

Purring: Self-Care and Soothing

Your cat’s purr is soothing to you. That purr is also soothing to your cat. From a physical standpoint, a cat’s purr generates a healing frequency, which can heal wounds or lessen pain or swelling.

There is more to your cat’s purr than self-soothing, though. Again, context is important here. If your cat is parked on your lap, eyes closed and purring loud enough to shatter the windows, he’s content and happy to be with you.

Reading Body Language

Vocalizations aren’t the only ways in which your cat chats with you. How she uses her body also provides an excellent barometer of her feelings or health. Here are some examples.

The Tail’s Tale

Please pay attention to his tail when deciphering your kitty’s mood. If that appendage is upright and held high, he’s glad to see you. But if you’re petting your friend and that tail thumps or thrashes, you might want to stop what you’re doing – this could signal that your cat is annoyed and wants you to stop.

But proceed cautiously if that tail is held straight out and bristling, with fur standing on end. This could signal that your friend is spoiling for a fight.

The Eyes (and Ears) Have It

Felines also say a lot about their mood or how they feel through their eyes and ears. A happy and content cat’s eyes are round and relaxed or partially closed, with slit pupils. If that cat blinks slowly at you, she’s showing her affection – you can respond by blinking slowly back at her.

A contented cat’s ears are upright and slightly cocked forward. When those ears swivel, she’s moving from contentment to caution. And if she’s threatened or angry, those ears will be low against the head; the flatter the ears, the higher the fury. Give your cat some space if those ears are paired with slitted eyes and enlarged pupils.

Interpreting the Language

The above is a general guide to kitty communication. Be sure to understand that each cat is an individual with his unique quirks and personality. Spending quality time with him is the best way to know how he communicates. This means you’ll better respond to your cat’s needs.

For information and products to keep your cat happy and healthy, talk to the experts at Pets on Broadway and browse our blogs for more tips and advice!