Not everyone aspires to become Jackson Galaxy or Mieshelle Nagelschneider. If you do not know who they are, they are renowned cat behaviorists. You might not want to understand every cat’s behavior but knowing what your cat is trying to tell you is an essential aspect of pet parenthood. Every cat has a different and unique set of conduct, and they are most interested in communicating with their fellow cats or their owners. Therefore, every cat owner should make it the topmost priority to learn what their cat’s behavior and body language is trying to tell.

Understand Cat’s Behavior & Body Language

Cat vocalizations are wide and flexible in their parameters. Cats can produce very loud sounds such as the meow, but also very quiet ones such as the chirp. Vocalization can be combined, repeated or even produced at the same time to create phrases that vary in complexity. Each vocalization type is described below-

Understand Cat's Behavior & Body Language

Cat Sounds Your Cat Makes and What They Mean

All of us are aware of the barks of a dog, but it is essential to know even cats are noisy, too, primarily while they mate. A dog’s bark is not something pleasant to our ears, but when a cat makes ubiquitous sounds of ‘meow,’ we all like it. Other sounds that cats make are spine-raising ‘hiss’ and annoying ‘howl.’ But do you mean what these sounds mean?

  • Meow: This sound is one of the most common sounds cats are seen making, and since it is most common, it can mean a lot of things. Let us see how. If a cat is making the sound of a short and solid meow, then either it can mean that your cat is objecting to something, or it can mean that it is stating a fact. The other meaning of it is that your cat wants to serve it with something. That can either be some favorite food or a toy. If the sound of meow is much softer and prolonged, then your cat is trying to greet you just like you greet with ‘hello’ to your friends. And sometimes, a ‘meow’ has no particular reason. They make sounds of meow while they move from one room to another.
  • Purr: Many people know this sound, and it means a good sign, especially when they rub their bodies against your feet. A purring sound reflects a mood of contentment or happiness or a sense of fulfillment. Also, usually, this sound accompanies the bad health of your cat. When your cat gets anxious or sick, they tend to make this sound repetitively. They make this sound to comfort themselves just the way a kid sucks its thumb while under stress.
  • Chirps and Trills: A sound is mainly seen in mother cats that make such a sound of chirps and trill to tell its kittens to follow their mother. These sounds are high-pitched and are produced to direct others (in this case, other cats) to follow the one giving the command. 
  • Hiss, Growl, or Spit: Such sounds are made by a cat only when annoyed at something or someone or in an aggressive mood. Many times even a frightened cat growls. These sounds signal that you do not want to go anywhere near the cat, especially when their fur is standing high as a current passed through their bodies. Just stand as far as possible, best if you leave the area.
  • Yowl or Howl: When you see your cat howling or yowling, then it is trying to tell you that it is in pain. Mostly the cats that do not get spayed are seen making such sounds, which is considered an essential part of their mating behavior. Disorientation is another reason to howl in cats who are suffering from dementia. If you own a pet cat and your cat is nowhere near its cycle, make efforts to know why. When they howl, they are asking for help.

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What are the body postures telling you?

What are the body postures telling you?

Every creature has its way of moving and carrying their bodies. Even cats tell a lot by the way they move. Decode their bodily movements to understand what is going on with your cat.

  • Look at the tail: The tail of a cat is one body part that signals many things going on in their minds. When a cat is happy, approachable, and cheerful, then it has its tail standing high. On the other hand, if your cat has a lowered seat, it might feel scared or threatened. 

A wagging tail of a dog is much different than the wagging tail of a cat. When a dog is found wagging its tail, it means the dog asks you to play with it, whereas the cat wagging its tail means they are not in a mood to play. 

  • Look at the ears: The ears of the cat signal a lot. If they are placed forward, then it means your cat is in an excited mood and wants you with them for a good time. Ears set ahead shows that they are content and happy. If the ears are straight up open for the sky, then it is a clear signal that your cat is not feeling safe and is in a hyper-alert state. In such a state of ears, the cat is looking for all the signals from the environment. However, when the ears are in a backward position, they sign a high feeling of irritation in them. Along with irritation, backward placed ears mean that your cat feels nervous or anxious about its surroundings. 
  • See what their eyes say: The major hint of what your cat is up to comes through their eyes. It is rightly said that your cat’s eyes act like a dagger that is capable of piercing through your heart. We often see cats’ eyes as a beautiful body part, remaining completely unaware of what they mean. 

The pupils of your cat’s eyes are often found dilated when the cat is surprised scared or stimulated. It is a common and natural sign seen in many animals when they get surprised and have the sudden urge to gather as much information as possible. The wider are pupils, the more fear your cat is experiencing. It is the same as the pupillary reaction seen in humans. Whenever we humans get anxious about anything, our pupils also grow large. 

In cases where the pupils are narrower or smaller in diameter, then it means your cat is either in tension or facing aggression. The main reason behind the cats constricting their pupils is that it is trying to focus on a ‘target’ that is certainly important for them. You might have heard several times that it is good manners to maintain eye contact with the person you communicate with.

However, if you practice that with your cat, then you are indeed inviting some of the other trouble for yourself. Your cat feels uncomfortable when they are stared at and feel that they are given some challenge. Hence, make a note if you find your cat staring at you. Rest assured of the challenge they are posing. The question here arises is, can you accept the challenge?

  • Positions of the body: Along with noting the positions and movement of cats’ tails, ears, and eyes, you also need to make notes of the movement styles and body positions of your cat. When combined with the body positions, all these body parts signal a great deal about your cat’s behavior. An arched back along with a standing fur in the shape of porcupine quills of the cat can mean that they are either angry or frightened. However, if your cat’s back is arched, but the fur is lying flat, it signifies you for your tender touch, and some cuddles will be an excellent deal for them.

A cat lying on its back can give two signals, but it also depends on whether your cat is growling while lying on the back or is it purring while lying on the back. However, it is evident if your cat is growling, then it is feeling upset and can attack at any time, but if it is purring, it is feeling relaxed and wants to feel that way.

Decoding of common cat behaviors 

Varying positions accompanied by several vocalizations can help you decode your cat's behavior and moods. Here is a list prepared of different cat behaviors you need to learn in order to know how you should respond to them.
Varying positions accompanied by several vocalizations can help you decode your cat's behavior and moods. Here is a list prepared of different cat behaviors you need to learn in order to know how you should respond to them.

Varying positions accompanied by several vocalizations can help you decode your cat’s behavior and moods. Here is a list prepared of different cat behaviors you need to learn in order to know how you should respond to them.

  • Showing the belly area: There are two possibilities why your cat is showcasing their belly area. One reason is that they at their very calm, content, and relaxed state. If their eyes, ears, and tail also display something similar, then you can relax as they are relaxed too. Grab this perfect opportunity for you to cuddle your cat and spend some quality time with your furry pet. The other reason why your cat is showing its belly is that it is feeling trapped and cannot escape. In this scenario, you need to stay away as the sound they are making is not purring but is growling. Also, their teeth and claws are fully extended, signaling some severe danger. 
  • Halloween pose: Many people tend to mistake the Halloween pose for a frightened cat. In fact, this is a pose your cat might make when it is feeling threatened by something or someone in its surroundings. This pose helps them be prepared for the danger that they can face at any given time. The exact details of this pose are back in the shape of the arch, claws, and teeth that are fully extended, fur on the back looking like porcupine quills, and tail in the posture of a brush-like bottle. If you find your cat in such a position, it is not a good time to play with your cat.
  • Rubbing: When you find your cat rubbing itself against you or other objects in the house, then two assumptions are made. The first is that your cat shows you the affection, trust, and passion it has for you (the pet parent). This is when the cat is rubbing itself against you. The other indication of cat rubbing is marking its ‘property’ or ‘territory.’ This is when you find your cat rubbing itself either against you or some other objects in the house like its favorite toy, its favorite furniture, etc. By marking their territory, they give a clear warning that that particular object is ‘theirs.’
  • Making biscuits: If you are new to parenting a cat, then you might notice in the future that your cat keeps working on its paws to make them soft and cushiony surfaces. The look of it is the same as someone making dough. The experts on cat’s behavior say that this behavior of cats is taken forward from their kittenhood when they used to press their paws on the mother cat’s breasts to extract more milk out of them. If you see this behavior in a grown-up cat, you can stay relaxed as it only means that your cat is happy and has a feeling of contentment.
  • Flehmen response: Cats are blessed with an organ to gather olfactory information other than the nose. You can find this organ right at the top of the surface of the cat’s mouth. This organ is termed as Jacobson’s organ, and it is believed that this organ is connected to the olfactory bulbs of a cat in the nose. If you place anything with an exciting smell, you will notice that your cat will raise their head and open its mouth. This is done to grasp the whole fragrance and integrate the scent of a given item to the olfactory information in the cat’s nose. 

Conclusion

It is rightly said that cats say a lot with their vocalizations and body postures. You need to look and hear them closely to understand what is going on inside the head of your fur baby. A cat parent must learn some of the most apparent signs these cats are giving you to know your pet cat and its unique personality. We wish you all the patience while you learn to understand your cat. Happy Pet parenting!