We all love our cats. However, sometimes understanding them can be a challenge because they are not as open and willingly communicative as dogs tend to be. Though cats may not be as loud or obvious as dogs, they still communicate their needs and desires. Cats primarily speak to their owners through three (3) primary means: 1) their tail 2) their ears and 3) their "verbal" noises.
In general, the most popular indicator of a cat's communication is through their tail. For example, if your cat's tail is arched, bristled, or "poofy," that usually means they are frightened or surprised. When their tail bristles, it is a defense mechanism that makes them appear larger than they truly are so they can intimidate their enemies. If you see your cat's tail flicking and swaying, this usually means that they have spotted something very intriguing and they are either studying it or preparing to pounce. This can either be a playful motion or an aggressive one, depending on the cat and situation. Either way, if you see your cat acting this way, you may want to make sure you are clear of their line of pouncing... you don't want your kitty clawing your leg or shoe!
A cat's ears are also very telling about their thoughts or intentions. If your cat's ears are pricked way back, flat on their head, this usually means they are stressed in some way or another, or that they are afraid. For example, if you are clipping your cat's claws, their ears will most likely be pulled back to show their extreme dislike of the situation. If their ears are pricked straight upward and twitching, they are alert and listening to something. Though their listening is not as good a dog's, they are still conscious of their surroundings and enjoy listening to new and interesting sounds. Finally, if your cat's ears are pointed slightly forward and upward, this simply means that they are relaxed, happy and content.
Lastly, some cats can be surprisingly "verbal" in their communication. That is, they purr, meow and hiss. When a cat purrs, it either means that they are completely content, happy, and relaxed, or it can also mean that they are stressed and afraid. When your cat purrs, you will be able to gauge whether it is happy purring or not. The longer you have had your cat and the more you talk to your cat, your cat will talk back to you. Cats have a large variety of meows, gurgles, 'eeps' and many other vocalizations. As you get to know you're cat, you will gradually be able to understand when you cats wants food, water, or wants to go outside or be played with.
The more you study and watch you cat, the more you will be able to understand what they are telling you through their body language and vocalizations. Cats are interesting creatures, and they are a joy to get to know. Taking the time to study your cat's particular communication habits is well worth it. Enjoy getting to know your kitty!
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