Cat language decoded | Daily News


Cat language decoded

Cats speak their own language, not only using sounds, but also gestures and scents that humans don’t understand all that well. Sometimes they purr, sometimes they claw at the furniture. What does it all mean?

When your cat struts, holding its tail in a vertical position, approaching you with the tip of its tail bent while nuzzling against your legs, it’s a good sign, experts say.

“This means your cat is feeling friendly, wants to greet you and wants to lavish you with attention, ” says Daniela Schrudde, a veterinarian at the Berlin-based Welttierschutzgesellschaft animal welfare society. By rubbing its head against you, your cat is telling you it accepts you as one of its own, she says.

Cats have glands behind their ears that release smells when they want to mark their territory, and they like to do this whenever their owner comes home. But the message gets lost in translation – humans can’t pick up the scent.

Experts also advise you to stand still and talk to your cat, rather than wordlessly approach it.

“This feels less threatening to the cat than when the owner approaches it, ” says Schrudde.

If the cat comes closer, then you can give it a cuddle. Another common scenario is the cat lying on its back or side, blinking or with its eyes closed, cleaning itself. This means the cat is feeling content and relaxed. Cats also take little breaks from cleaning themselves when there is something new for them to discover. And in these moments, they welcome being stroked, says Schrudde.

While many cats love cuddles, there are of course some scenarios in which it is advisable to approach one’s feline with care, according to Schrudde.

Those wanting to pamper and stroke their cats should approach them cautiously.

“If the animal sits up, then it is better to pause and talk to the cat, so that it doesn’t feel threatened, ” she says.

“Not every cat wants to be stroked in the stomach, ” Schrudde adds. And if your cat sits down on your laptop or your newspaper, this means it is bored and would like to be occupied with something.

What does it mean when the tip of your cat’s tail swishes back and forth while the rest of its body remains still, spine hunched?

Your cat is feeling afraid or aggressive, and wants some peace and quiet. Schrudde advises that you exercise caution. Cats express their moodiness by wagging their tail, which is sometimes misunderstood by animal lovers who also have dogs.

“If the cat’s aggression is directed at a certain object, then it should be removed, ” she added. Otherwise, it is a good idea to wait until the animal’s ears have returned to their normal position.

According to Schrudde, when a cat claws at furniture, “they are telling you that the spot belongs to them”.

She suggests standing firm with your cat, even if it’s a difficult thing to do, and preventing it from scratching furniture from a young age by offering it alternatives.

“Your cat can sharpen its claws and expend excess energy on a scratching post, ” says Schrudde.

If a cat urinates outside the litter tray, this could mean a lot of things. “Your cat could be having kidney problems, causing it pain when it urinates, ” she says. Otherwise, it might also be cat flu.

But it could also be a psychological issue. “Cats are very sensitive, ” Schrudde says. Your cat could be protesting about some kind of change they are not happy with, which could be as small a deal as their new bowl being a different colour.

Schrudde recommends taking your cat to the vet to find out whether its issues are physiological or psychological.

Alongside expressing themselves using a variety of gestures and behaviours, cats also have a wide repertoire of noises.

The famous “meow” sound is mostly directed at humans, says Susanne Schoetz, a professor of phonetics based in Lund, Sweden.

Cats, being very smart, have noticed that people communicate with words, and have adapted accordingly. When a cat’s meow is high-pitched, it is usually feeling weak and wants attention, according to experts.

Meows turn to coos when your cat needs something quite urgently, like food or a toy.

A deep, long growl indicates that the cat is feeling aggressive or defensive. This is how your cat tells foes not to come any closer.

A deep and short growl, on the other hand, means “good” or “thank you”!

Purring can have all sorts of meanings. It can indicate contentment, hunger, fear or pain. To interpret your cat’s purrs, you should consider the circumstances, says Schoetz.

“If your cat is lying on your lap, then it is feeling content. But on a visit to the vet, it would probably be feeling anxious.”

According to Schoetz, those who really want to figure out what their cat is trying to tell them should focus more on the quality of the noises they make. For example, a gentle, calm sound indicates that your cat means you no harm.

To those still struggling to understand their feline friends, the best advice is to patiently listen and make note of behavioural changes, Schoetz adds.


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