What is Your Cat Saying to You?



As described by Wikipedia, a meow is a sound used by cats to signal a request to their mother or to a human.  This request might be much like a child – I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I’m bored, I want attention, I don’t feel well, I want to play…….Pay attention to me PLEASE!!!


Is a sound made by most feline species, this is a tonal buzzing that can characterize differently between cats. Domestic cants purr in a frequency of 25 to 150 vibrations per second.  Purring is often understood as a signal of happiness, however, cats sometimes purr when they are ill, tense, traumatized or in pain.

There is no unique anatomical feature that is responsible for the purring sound a feline makes.


Distinctive sounds when a feline is angry or feels cornered or threatened.  This serves as a warning to the offending party to “BACK OFF”.  If the warning is not headed, a more serious attack may follow.  Felines may engage in behavior such as batting with their paws, claws or they may lash out and pounce.  Cats sometimes make chirping or chattering noises when they are observing prey.

Cats are more likely to communicate through their body language.  For example, a cat laying on its back with stomach and chest exposed conveys trust and comfort; arching their backs is a sign of fear or aggression; flattened ears mean that a cat feels threatened and may attack; mouth open and no teeth exposed suggest he wants to play.


A cat’s tail is used as a signal quite often.  A tail held high is much like us standing tall and straight, it conveys happiness and confidence and means of greeting especially to their humans.  A half raised tail shows less pleasure and when they are unhappy it is indicated with a tail held low.  A cat’s tail may wag or move rapidly to express a state of conflict.  When a tail is held high and twitches, he is excited and this is often mistaken for anger. However, cats will twitch the tips of their tails when hunting or when irritated while larger twitching indicates total displeasure.  A puffed up tail indicates that your cat has recently been surprised or scared and the hair on their back may stand straight up.  A cat will then turn its body sideways to a threat in order to increase the appearance of their size.  What about the tailless variety you ask? Well Tailless cats, such as the Manx, which possess only a small stub of a tail as the result of breeding genetics, move the stub around as if they possess a full tail.


A friendly greeting from a cat is touching noses.  Some cats will rub their face along their humans cheek, hands, ankles, etc as a friendly greeting or a sign of affection.  Sometimes people refer to this as “marking their territory”.  Through rubbing, cats leave a scent from the scent glands located in the cat’s cheeks.  More commonly, a cat will do a “head bonk” by bumping someone with the front part of its head to express affection.  If your cat is anything like mine, this is powerful affection and a cat can create quite a bit of force to show his love for you…. I have the black and blue marks to prove it.


Most people associate licking as being a “dog thing”.  Yes they see cats clean themselves and sometimes other felines, but what they don’t realize is cats will lick their owners too.

Cats lick each other for grooming purposes. Cats that are very close to one another will groom each other.  Since cats see their human companions as just big cats, they will lick their humans as well as a means of grooming them in addition to showing care and affection.
Your cats tongue has numerous knobs called papillae on the surface which are located at the tongues center.  The papillae form backward-facing hooks containing large amounts of keratin – the same material found in human fingernails.  These hooks provide the abrasiveness a cat needs for self grooming.  The strength of these hooks also assist in helping a cat hold food and/or struggle with prey.

Although the cats tongue assists with cleaning itself and untangling hair, it is important for us to groom them regularly by brushing, cleaning and removing loose and dead hair.  Otherwise your feline friend ingests hair, hairballs form and cause vomiting which can impact their gastrointestinal tract.  So to avoid stepping on that wet hairball in the morning with your bare feet on the way to the bathroom, groom your cat regularly.  This will help both of you to be happy.


Just like your mom making bread dough and working the dough with her hands, a cat will do the same type of kneading motion.  Cats will use this action and purr at the same time to show contentment and affection for their companions.  This is also a method of comforting itself.  This is an instinctive motion that begins when they are young to stimulate the mother cat’s release of milk during nursing.

There are scent glands on the underside of a cats paws which release a small amount of scent onto the person or object they paw which is then marked as being “theirs” the same way as urinating may mark their territory for other animals to observe and respect.

Now if I could just train my cat to massage my shoulders after work every day….life would be good.

Hopefully the information provided here will provide you with a little bit of insight into your cat’s behavior.  Shower them with love and affection, care for them and you will have a long time companion.

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08 2015

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