How to Understand "Cat"

Knowledge of the feline language can strengthen the cat/owner bond. Learn to recognize the meaning in your pet's meows and actions.

By Marty Becker, DVM | Posted: Thu Jul 1 00:00:00 PDT 2004

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Body Language Ballet
As feline aficionados know, cat communication isn't limited to the voice box; cats also use a ballet of body language.

Sometimes it's easier to understand a cat's body language than it is to figure out sounds: the widening pupils, flattened ears, a swishing tail, an arched back and the rubbing against your leg. It is likely that with cats, body language is the dominant communication method.

A great deal of cat communication, however, is psychological. Cat owners often wonder why their cat that was just winding itself around their legs a few minutes ago, is suddenly nowhere to be found once the carrier comes out.

Consider this experiment: Get up from your chair with a picture in your mind of something in the refrigerator or treat cupboard that your cat would crave. It is almost guaranteed that your cat will meet you there before you can get the door open. Certainly, cats are better at reading our body language than we are at reading theirs.

Most cats develop a litany of verbal and physical signals they believe people can master. If the human family is alert and willing to learn, they will soon learn to distinguish between the call that says, "dinner is due" and the one that announces, "that nasty neighbor cat is back!"

Or, when a human family member is sad, cats may not send a Hallmark card, but they might snuggle close and offer a furry, warm head and purrs.

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Reader Comments

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

11/28/2011 4:53:05 AM

good article, thanks

Ronald    Lorain, OH

12/17/2010 6:00:04 AM

We are snow birds, Ohio in the Summer and Fl. in the winter, we start packing a couple of days before we take the two day trip. We don't get out the pet carrier until we are about to leave but for two days Tiger is no where to be found, he knows the long trip is coming soon.

Amanda    Greenville, SC

12/24/2009 8:10:02 AM

Glad i found this while the kittens are still little; we can learn now and hopefully do well as the get bigger :)

me    a place, NY

3/4/2009 11:50:39 AM

I love this article! My cat is so furry.

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