Understanding Cat Communication

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Cats are intelligent and independent creatures, but it can sometimes be difficult to interpret what they’re trying to tell us. That’s because cats use a complex system of body language, scent, touch, and sound to communicate their feelings.

But by paying close attention – and with a little practice – it’s possible to figure out what your cat is trying to say. Need some help decoding cat communication? Read on to learn about some of the most common ways cats make their feelings known.

Non-Verbal Communication

The Tail

Your cat’s tail is a great indicator of how she’s feeling in any given situation. A relaxed cat will hold her tail loosely behind her. If she’s happy she may hold her tail up. But it’s not always that simple – a raised tail with the fur standing on end can indicate a fearful kitty.

If your cat holds her tail low or between her legs it’s often a sign she’s feeling nervous or uncomfortable. If you spot this type of body language it’s best to give your cat some space. It’s also a good idea to watch how your cat’s tail moves; if her tail moves slowly it’s usually a sign that she’s curious about something. But if she moves her tail quickly from side to side, there’s a good chance she’s feeling agitated and overwhelmed.

The Body

Moving up from the tail, keeping an eye on your cat’s body can help you decipher her feelings. A calm cat will relax the muscles of her body and breathe slowly and evenly. If she arches her back it can mean that she’s in a friendly mood and wants you to pet her. Again, watch out for fur standing on end – if your cat has an arched back and raised fur she’s communicating fear or stress.

One more thing to be aware of when it comes to your cat’s body; if she lies on her back with her belly exposed she’s usually showing that she trusts you – obvious, right? But you may not know that this can also be a defensive position for cats. Look for signs of stress indicated by your cat’s eyes and ears (more on this in a moment).

The Eyes

Your cat’s eyes can show you a lot about how she’s feeling. A happy and content cat will have normal-sized pupils (not dilated or constricted). If she blinks slowly or has her eyes slightly closed she’s demonstrating that she’s comfortable and at ease.

If your cat is feeling afraid her eyes may dilate or constrict. If they remain fixed on one thing she could be ready for attack – if you’re a cat parent you’ll know the look your cat gets when she’s hunting!

If your cat avoids eye contact or her eyes dart around rapidly, it’s a sure sign that she feels threatened. Don’t be surprised if she bolts off and attempts to escape!

The Ears 

Another way to see how your cat is feeling is by watching her ears. Forward-facing ears indicate a cheerful and content cat. If they’re straight up, she’s interested or excited. Ears that pivot and move around are evidence your cat is on high alert. Has someone just opened a can of Solid Gold cat food?!

Watch out if your cat has her ears pinned back or down to the sides – she’s showing that she feels scared, defensive, or angry – so give her some breathing room.

Verbal Communication

Besides communicating through body language, cats will often vocalize their feelings. Of course, it’s easy to tell that a cat’s growl or hiss signals fear or anger, but a meow can have lots of different meanings.

A short meow is your cat’s way of greeting you. Multiple short meows can be interpreted as an excited greeting. A mid-pitched meow is most likely a plea for something – often cats will do this when they’re hungry and want some cat food!

If the meow is longer it signals that the plea has become a demand. Again, this could be because she’s hungry, or it may be because she wants to go outside. A low-pitched meow is usually a complaint – is the cat food bowl empty, or is there something else she wants? Finally, a high-pitched screech-like meow is a sign of pain or anger – this is the sound you’ll hear if you step on your cat’s tail by accident!

Giving Your Cat the Best

Cats are amazing animals – and if you’re a cat parent, we hope you’ll understand your feline friend a little better after reading this post.

Here at Solid Gold Pet, we’re huge fans of cats. And we’re dedicated to producing the very best cat food and supplements to keep them happy and healthy for years to come. Our grain and gluten free, high protein dry cat foods are complemented by a variety of wet food options and healthy supplements that are formulated to deliver optimum feline nutrition.