Humans and kitties speak very different languages. But that doesn’t mean the language barrier is impossible to overcome! In fact, if you pay attention, you can understand exactly what your kitty is trying to tell you. Let’s jump into this cat behavior and find out what your little furry friend is trying to say!
Paying attention to your cat’s eyes, ears, tails, and tone of voice can reveal their feelings and intentions. By learning these signs, you can get a good idea of what is on your cat’s mind!
Cat’s have may different tones when they talk to us. By understanding their differences, you’ll be able to tell when they’re asking you to get up from bed, when they’re feeling affectionate and when they’re in pain.
An all-purpose word. They could be saying “meow” as a greeting, as a command, an objection, or an announcement. While a “meow” is pretty open-ended on meaning, context is key to figuring out what they’re saying to you!
Chirps and Trills
This is how mother cats ask their kittens to follow them. When they’re speaking to you though, that just means they want you to follow them (probably to their food bowl).
Usually a sign of contentment. You’re probably very familiar with this sound if you give a kitty a scratch on the chin or behind the ears. But sometimes a cat purrs when they’re sick, anxious, or are using it to comfort themselves.
Growling, Hissing, or Spitting
This is a sign that the cat is annoyed, frightened, angry or aggressive. Best to leave this cat alone.
Yowl or Howl
This sounds like a loud, long drawn out meow. This means that the cat is in some type of distress like they’re stuck in a closet, they’re looking for you or they’re in pain. If your kitty is making this noise, go and find them. If your cat is unspayed or unneutered, these types of sounds are common mating behaviors (and can be very annoying).
Chattering or Twittering
This is the noise your cat makes when sitting in the window and sees a bird or squirrel outside. Some experts think this is an exaggeration of the “killing bite” which is a similar motion used when grabbing their prey by the neck.
Paying attention to how your cat’s ear, eyes, and tail are can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling. Here are a few clues to figure out what they’re telling you:
- Forward: Your kitty is alert, interested or happy.
- Swiveling: Their attentive and listening to every sound.
- Turned Back: The cat could feel irritated or over-stimulated. Best to leave them alone.
- Flat against their head: This cat is feeling scared, defensive, angry or irritated. Don’t mess with this kitty!
- Pupils constricted: Possibly tense or aggressive. This could also indicate how much light is in the room, so take that into consideration.
- Pupils dilated: They are surprised, scared, or stimulated and want to play!
- Slow blinking: This indicates that your kitty feels safe, comfortable, and trusts you.
- Up: Happy, cheerful, and approachable.
- Between legs/down: Indicates a cat who is fearful or anxious.
- Thrashing back and forth: Doesn’t mean quite the same thing as when a dog wags its tail. A slow-moving tail means they’re trying to decipher the situation. A fast-thumping tail usually means the cat is agitated and should be left alone.
- Fur standing on end: Angry or frightened.
What Are They Telling Me Now?
Sometimes, it goes beyond what your cat’s body language is saying. They’ll just do some rather odd things. So here are some common things cats will do that you can also decipher.
People often think that this means your kitty is just showing you some love. And we’re sure they do love you, but that’s not why they do it! What they’re doing is marking their territory. You’ve probably noticed them rubbing on chairs, walls, their toys. They’re letting everyone know that stuff is their’s, including you.
Also known as “making biscuits,” because the cat works their paws on a soft surface, like kneading bread dough. It’s something they carry over from kittenhood when they would do it to get milk from their mother. Your kitty does this now when they’re very happy!
The Flehmen Response
You might have noticed this when your cat is smelling something, your shoes for example. They’ll give them a sniff, pick their head up and open their mouth slightly. That doesn’t mean they’re passing judgment on how stinky your shoes are, they’re actually just getting more information!
A cat’s sense of smell is very important. So important that they have an extra olfactory organ that not many other creatures have. It’s known as the Jacobson’s organ, and it’s located on the roof of their mouth right behind their front teeth.
When your kitty smells something new and interesting, they’ll open their mouth to inhale more “information” about it. What they do with that information is a mystery we’ll probably never find out!
Hopefully, now you have a better sense of what your kitty is trying to tell you. If your cat has a particularly funny meow or adorably chirp, send us a video over on our Instagram! We’d love to see it.