6 Ways Cats Try to Communicate With Us

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As we all know, cats are much more puzzling than dogs when it comes to understanding them. Unless its dinner time and your cat is sitting next to its empty food dish meowing loudly, it can be very hard to interpret what your feline friend is trying to tell you.

As natural observers, cats understand us much better than we understand them, but that doesn't mean reading them is impossible. Here are six common ways cats try to communicate with us.

Purring

Most of us read purring as a sign that our cat is content. While this is partially true, it's more accurate to understand purring as your cat telling you "please don't stop what you're doing" or "please don't go away." In addition to purring happily while you pet him, purring can also indicate that your cat is scared, sick, or injured, and he wants you to stick around to provide care. In this way, purring is a comfort-seeking behavior.

Meowing

Believe it or not, cats use meowing as a method of communicating only with humans. Among cats there is no universal cat language that uses a variety of meows to chat. Cats only meow because they have learned that it is the best way to communicate with their humans. That said, meows are all-purpose sounds, and various meows mean different things coming from individual cats as they have learned what works best to communicate with their owners. So when it comes to meowing, you're on your own to determine exactly what your cat is trying to tell you.

Tail Posture

In addition to sounds, cats also communicate fluently through body language. Like dogs, cats frequently use their tails to tell us how they feel. An erect tail with relaxed fur indicates a happy cat, whereas the same posture with upright fur is feeling angry or scared. A low, tucked tail means your cat is feeling anxious or insecure, and a thrashing tail means your cat is agitated. Be on the lookout for these signals to determine how your cat is feeling.

Blinking

Look for long, slow blinks when you're with your cat. If you notice your cat doing this, it means he is totally comfortable around you! Cats do this with other cats because in the feline world, closing one's eyes in front of another is a sign of trust. Similarly, cats use slow blinking as a gesture of acceptance toward their owners. To return the compliment, try blinking slowly back at your cat!

The "Halloween Pose"

We all know the classic cat Halloween pose: arched back, high tail, and upright hairs. This is your cat's way of saying 'BACK OFF' when it feels threatened by your or anything else. Even if you're attempting to comfort your kitty, it's best to follow his wishes and leave him alone when he asks you to.

Rubbing Against You

Rubbing against your legs is your cat's way of marking you as his territory, but it can also be interpreted as your cat showing you he loves you. When you come home from a long day at work, rubbing against you is your cat's way of saying "I'm so glad to see you!" or "I've missed you!" Studies of feral cats show that cats do this within their own species as well, rubbing up against each other, specifically after being separated for a period of time. In addition to claiming you as his own, rubbing is the equivalent of your cat trying to give you a hug.

Cat language is much more nuanced than that of dogs, so it's important to pay close attention to how your cat communicates his wants and needs. Since cats are so independent, they are easily misunderstood. The best thing to do is to channel your inner-feline to be as observant of your cat as he is of you.

Written by PetCoach Editorial September 12, 2018
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