A lot of us feel like we communicate with our cats. But do we really understand what they are saying? Many of the unhappy cat scenarios seen on “My Cat From Hell” stem from the lack of understanding kitty. Holistic Cat Behaviorist Layla Morgan Wilde of CatWisdom101.com and the official cat behaviorist for Tara The Hero Cat gave us the following 10 clues to a cat’s mood and what they men, so you can start understanding kitty better.
#1 – Purring
The soothing low rumble of a cat’s purr often signals happiness, but not always. Cats purr to self-sooth from stress, illness or injury. Look for other clues. A happy, purring cat will have relaxed muscles and closed or half closed eyes.
#2 – Tail Lashing
Cats speak volumes with their tails. A common movement is the swishing back and forth tail. A happy cat may gently and slowly swish their tail from side to side. It may lovingly wrap itself around it’s person’s arm or leg. An angry or annoyed cat may swish or flick their tail in a faster more jerky fashion.
#3 – Rubbing
I like you. You belong to me. Now feed me, pet me or play with me. Any time a cat rubs up against a human from head bonks (bunting) to figure-8s around ankles, they want something. It may look like affection, but it’s often attention seeking and the scent-exchange is a way to scent-bond.
#4 – Paw Taps
A light tap on the face with a paw while sleeping is a wake-up call. A harder and repeated taps with scratching or full body plant is more urgent. Feed me now or if something is seriously wrong, they’ll add a loud, insistent meow. Many cat guardians know the gentle touching paw of compassion. Cats somehow know when we’re not feeling well.
#5 – Meows
Every meow or cat sound has a feeling and purpose. Adult cats rarely meow to each other; they usually only meow to humans. General meows alert us to needs like food or attention, a low warning growl, to a chirp of welcome or hello. A trill means hello, come over here. Cats make over 100 different sounds. There are loud demanding meows, yowls of pain or alarm, whisper quiet mews and all speak volumes.
#6 – Not Using the Litter Box
You may think your cat is “just being bad,” when he goes outside the litterbox. In reality, your cat could be telling you something. Wilde says it can be related to fear and anxiety. Or, the box may not be clean enough, not in the right place, have the right litter, etc. Whatever the reason, it’s a pretty loud communication would’t you say?
#7 – Scratching
Fear and anxiety can cause destructive behavior, such as inappropriate scratching. The cat may hide or slink close to the ground. Watch for dilated pupils, ears flattened to the sides of the head and the tail low or between the legs.
#8 – Tail Straight Up
The happy, confident cat walks tall with their tail straight up. If the tail is hooked forwards, they are happy to see whoever they’re greeting.
#9 – Bristled Fur
The angry aggressive cat is obvious. Their fur bristles into puffy points and they arch their back in the familiar “Halloween cat” pose. Their tail puffs out (this can also be a defensive posture from fear). Other signs are: snarling, spitting, hissing, growling, and extended claws.
#10 – Slow Blinking
The slow blink and eyes of trust. Often called the “I love you” blink, is actually more about trust. When a cat slow blinks in response to a human slow blinking at them, it signals to humans or another animal that they are not a threat. Additional signals are eyes half-closed, which is a sign of relaxation.