• By Beth Oleson, Marketing Director


Alright, fellow cat people: we all know we talk to our cats. If you’ve ever wished your cat would talk back, this one’s for you! The many ways cats communicate with their human friends are fascinating, and important to understand if you’re going to harmoniously cohabitate with a cat. Body language, vocalization and behavior are all ways of speaking, if you know how to listen! As with most animals, cats do a lot of their communicating through body language. Tails, faces and posture all tell their own stories. A happy cat typically has a tail straight up, sometimes quivering (“I’m excited!”) or curled over at the tip (“I’m relaxed”). A tail that’s swishing or twitching back and forth means your cat is feeling annoyed or agitated. A poofy tail with a crouched posture (“I’m scared”) or an arched back (“Ok, now I’m angry”) are signs it’s time to leave that cat alone. The eyes can also tell you a lot - a relaxed cat’s eyes are slightly squinting with long, slow blinks (“I love you and I trust you”), while a cat who’s excited and on the hunt will have wide open eyes and whiskers on full alert. Next time you play with your cat, look for the telltale dilation of the pupils that happens right before a big pounce! Cat vocalizations are way more complex than just a simple meow; in fact, cats in the wild don’t meow at all. It’s a behavior they’ve learned specifically for communicating with humans! All cats, however, make tons of different sounds: chirps, purrs, growls, yowls, chatters, hisses and more. A classic meow is your cat’s way of asking for (demanding?) attention; chirps and chirrs are a way to say hello. Purrs usually indicate happiness and contentment, but cats also purr when they’re in pain, including mothers giving birth – the frequency a cat’s purr vibrates at actually helps the body heal. Growls and hisses are, of course, a warning to keep away. And chatters are most often made by an excited cat who’s stalking prey. Common cat behaviors have a lot to communicate, too. Some cats love to touch noses and bump heads as a greeting. If your cat does this, he’s greeting you exactly how he would a friendly cat, so you’re officially part of the fam! When your cat rubs his cheek and face against you, he’s actually saying “I love you, you’re my person.” Cats have scent glands in their cheeks that they use to claim territory, people included. And although we tend to view it more with exasperation than taking it as the compliment that it is, the places cats choose to scratch mean the same thing. Part of why cats scratch is to claim their favorite places, and if you pay attention, you’ll likely notice that those are the places they spend the most time hanging out with you. Those are also the best places to put a scratching post… no coincidence there! Still not sure what your cat is telling you? Maybe we can help decipher the riddle! Get in touch with us at manager@woodfordhumane.org or 859-873-5491.


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