Monday, November 25, 2013

What Is My Cat Trying to Tell Me?

If you’re a cat owner; you know all the different sounds and body language your cat uses to communicate with you. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to decipher just what you’re cat is trying to say.

The first thing you want to do when trying to figure out what your cat is feeling is to take a look at his face and eyes. Just like people, cats communicate with their eyes. As the old English proverb says, “The eyes are windows to the soul.” This goes for cats too. I hope that all these signs of communication will help you understand a little better what your cat is trying to tell you.
Two cats content in each other's company.

Size of the Pupils

If your cat is in bright light, it may be difficult to tell what she is feeling because her pupils will be narrow. When your cat is content and feeling calm, her eyes will be narrow, as well.

When your cat has dilated pupils, either she is in a darkened room or she is ready to fight. If your cat’s pupils are dilated, this is not a good time to start playing with her. Her eyes tell you that she feels threatened and you might end up with a painful scratch if you start rubbing her head or belly. You can try to calm your cat down by talking softly but don’t make any sudden movements.

Whiskers Tell the Tale

Your cat moves his whiskers around in certain ways to communicate with you. He also uses his whiskers to determine how close he is to objects and for navigating around in the dark. When you look at your cat, check to see which way his whiskers are pointing.

If the cat’s whiskers are facing forward, this means he does not feel threatened and is happy. Now is your chance to play with him.

When your cat holds his whiskers straight out to the side of his face, this means he is excited and anxious. Your cat holds his whiskers straight out, trying to collect information from the environment. Don’t approach your cat when he is tense but let him decide when he wants to come to you.

If the cat’s whiskers are flat against his face, then he is most likely afraid of something or feeling shy. The best thing to do is to leave your cat alone until he feels more comfortable. Many times, if other cats are nearby, your cat will tense up and hold his whiskers close to his face. You can help by shooing any other cat away.

Ear Positioning

Your cat can hear noises that you cannot, which is why she can become tense when you don’t notice anything is a threat. She also needs her ears for balance and to land on all four feet when jumping from high places.

Ear movement in your cat is a huge sign of communication. If your cat’s ears are pointed forward, it means she is curious about something. She will be focused and alert, checking out her surroundings.

Ears that stand straight up but point slightly backward means that your cat is worried about something and hesitant about what to do. When your cat is frightened, her ears will be flat against her head and you should definitely give your cat space until she calms down.

Telltale Tail

A cat’s tail seems to have a life of its own but your cat knows exactly what his tail is doing at all times. I’m sure you've noticed that sometimes your cat holds his tail straight up in the air and the tip moves back and forth. When he does this, it means he is not afraid but excited about something.

I know when I pat my cat too much, her tail starts wagging back and forth quickly, showing she is getting annoyed with me. If I continue, she grabs my hand with both paws and bites. So, if your cat is waving his tail around, be aware that he is becoming agitated.

What you really should look for is when your cat holds his tail straight out behind him. This tail position is telling you that he is aggressive and wants to be left alone. Sometimes it helps to let your cat hide under a blanket or inside a paper bag to calm down.

Raising the Fur

If you notice the fur on your cat’s back is raised along her spine, it indicates that she is alarmed and feels threatened by a predator of some kind. If you approach your cat while she is like this, you will probably be scratched or bitten. Your cat may also flatten her ears and hold her fur close to her body to make herself seem small, usually backing into a corner. If this is the case, she will definitely attack to defend herself if anything or anyone approaches her. Try not to make eye contact and just let your cat calm down.

Body Language

Crouching down with the front legs indicates that your cat is defensive, especially if her ears are flat. Another sign of aggression happens when your cat arches his back and holds his legs further apart than usual. If your cat gets into this position, he will probably be growling or hissing, as well.

Affectionate Signals

Purring is the most common sign of affection and contentment for your cat but there are other ways to tell that your cat wants your attention. When your cat rubs against your legs, she is saying that you belong to her.

Blinking is another sign of affection, showing that your cat is calm and happy. When your cat licks you, she is affectionately grooming you. Other signs of affection from your cat include bumping her nose or head against you.

Cat Fancy: Learn to Read Your Cat's Body Language: June, 2012

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