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

9/17/2013 4:21:53 AM


Janet    Bethlehem, PA

5/27/2012 11:45:35 AM

good article, thank you

Richard    Lost Wages NV., NV

5/17/2012 9:44:50 PM

I reciently recieved a domesticated ferrel cat and her four kitens of about 5 weeks of age. in part of getting them used to human touch, when I went into the room I put them in the loudest one got my attention first. and one by one they all got petted. Even the mom. Now with only one kitten and the mom. the kitten can get very vocal. Gets quiet when held or given some milk at night befor bed. I think I have created a very spoiled brat monster.

janet    bethlehem, PA

3/11/2011 4:23:40 AM

Kitties are the best! They let you know exactly how they feel!

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