How Your Cat Communicates With you? – 5 Thing You Should know

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Janet Roper’s article on talking with your kitty generated a lot of comments. This time I’d like to focus on how your cat communicates with you!

How your Cat Communicates with you
How your Cat Communicates with you

Cats are quite predictable critters. They know we humans are in charge (or at least we like to think we are!), so in order to get us to do what they want, they have to train us, and they do this by communicating with us, in many different ways.

How Your Cat Communicates With You

Cats would rather communicate by using scent, facial expressions, body language, and touch. Humans, on the other hand, communicate verbally, by talking. It doesn’t take a cat long to figure out that humans are too dumb to understand the non-verbal stuff, so they vocalize, or make sounds, in an effort to “talk” to us.

Kitties are smart, and they learn quickly which sound gets a certain reaction from their person. In fact, research has shown that cats can and do develop hundreds of vocalizations so they can “tell” us what they want!

Every kitty develops its own “language” to communicate with you, but common vocalizations include:

  • Short meow – standard greeting
  • Multiple meows – excited greeting
  • Mid-pitch meow – asking for something
  • Drawn-out mrrroooow – demanding something
  • Low pitch MRRRooooowww – complaining
  • High-pitch RRRROWW! – anger or pain
  • Chatter (rapid teeth-chattering jaw movements) – excitement or frustration
  • Chirrup (Also called “chirring”, a cross between a meow and a purr with rising inflection) – a friendly greeting
  • Purr – invites close contact or attention
your cat care guide
How your Cat Communicates with you

Watch your cat see how they act and how cats communicate with you, and if they use a certain meow when they want something. You’ll soon learn to tell the difference between “feed me!” or “let me out!” or “I’m happy to see you.”

The Tail Of The Cat

Your kitty’s tail is one of the most important communication tools they have. Pay attention to what your cat is doing with their tail, and you’ll be able to figure out a lot about their frame of mind.

  • If your kitty comes running up to you with their tail straight up, they are happy to see you!
  • Slowly sweeping his tail back and forth indicates they are annoyed with something or feeling impatient.
  • Sweeping his tail back and forth quickly shows they are agitated.
  • If they lower the tail between the legs, they are showing submission to you.
  • They will raise his tail to show that they are feeling friendly and wants to play.
  • If the cat twitches his tail just a little while laying down near you, then they want to be close to you.
  • If his tail is puffed out and standing up straight while his back is curved, the cat is feeling threatened, either by another cat, a dog, or something else.
  • If the cat’s ears are laid back while they are crouching, and the cat’s tail is held stiffly extended, they getting ready to attack something. Back off, or it may be you!

If your kitty starts switching their tail and lays their ears back when you’re petting them, they are warning you that they have had enough. Some cats become overstimulated by too much petting. If you don’t pay attention to what your cat is telling you, then they may bat you with their paw. If you still don’t get it, the cat will probably bop you again, only this time with their claws out so as to draw blood, or they may even bite you. Respect what your cat is telling you, and you’ll both get along with each other better.

Feline Body Language

How your Cat Communicates with you
How your Cat Communicates with you

Your kitty has many other ways of communicating with you and you can understand this if you know how your cat communicates with you using their body language. If the cat’s ears are back and flattened, they may be alarmed. Some cats show shame or remorse by laying their ears back somewhat. They will prick their ears up when they are feeling playful or if they are intrigued by something. If the cat is stalking something, ears are sideways and turned down, and they will creep along, slowly and silently.

Your cat identifies you by your scent. When they come up to you and sniffs your face, they are making sure it’s really you. When the cat rubs their head on you, the cat is marking you with their scent and saying that you belong to him. Butting their head against you is a sign of friendliness and affection. And if they tap you with a wet nose, they are giving you a kiss!

How your Cat Communicates to you
How your Cat Communicates with you

Try not to stare at your furry friend. Cats don’t like to be stared at, as it makes them uncomfortable. They interpret staring as being assertive or even aggressive, so use this sparingly unless you’re trying to make a point about him not doing something.

Blinking your eyes slowly, however, is a show of affection for your buddy. It’s the feline equivalent of blowing them a kiss.

What your cat is doing with their legs says a lot, too. Laying around with their legs outstretched shows they are feeling happy and confident. If the cat is standing on tiptoe with their legs straight, back arched, and their tail all bushy, then they are more fearful than aggressive. They are trying to look big and scary to try to intimidate whatever it is that’s bothering them. However, if the legs are bent, the cat is ready to attack.

When your kitty kneads your tummy or leg with their paws, the cat is showing their affection for you, and also that they are contented when around you. It takes the cat back to when they were kitten nursing on their mama, and all those warm happy feelings they had then. It can get a little painful with those sharp claws, but your cat REALLY likes you if they do this!

If your cat licks you, they are not tasting you to see if you’re good to eat. What the cat is doing is showing you that you’re part of their family. This is THE sign of affection. Again, this goes back to mama cat licking her kittens, and the feelings of security and safety the cat had then. So don’t push your kitty away if they lick you, because you’ll hurt their feelings!

Here is some interactive toys recommendation to keep your kitty happy and engaged:

Should You Talk to Your Cat?

By all means. Your kitty will learn to associate certain words with certain things. If you say, “bedtime” when you go to bed, or “shower” when you go to take one, they will learn what the word means, and the cat may even beat you to the bedroom or bathroom after a while.

Use a higher pitch in your voice to show friendliness, and lower it to show you’re unhappy about something. Use a “command” tone when telling your cat “NO!” when they are digging in the plants. The cat will learn to associate that tone in your voice with the idea that they shouldn’t be doing.

How your Cat Communicates to you
How your Cat Communicates with you

Another good “no” command is to do what cats do to say no: make a fast sharp hissing or spitting sound. ALL cats understand this one!

It’s important to be consistent. Sometimes you’re doing something that you really don’t want your cat helping with, whether it’s sewing or working on the computer. Cats will usually ask before they invade your space.

If you pet your cat while saying “no,” you’ll only confuse your cat. Say “no” very quickly while gently but firmly pushing them away. They may try again, in a different direction. Keep doing this, and they will get the idea that their presence is not wanted right now. The next time, they will understand sooner.

Can You Train A Cat?

Many people think it’s not possible to train a cat. It does take more time and patience, but it’s certainly doable. If you treat your feline companion with love and respect, they will become a good friend and companion for life!  In fact, you may become known as the “Cat Whisperer!”

How your Cat Communicates with you

My Personal Experience

Many years ago I had a kitty named Morris who liked to roam around out in the woods around our house. I got worried about him one day because he’d been gone a long time. I was thinking about how I wished he’d come back.

Within ten minutes, he showed up on the back porch, meowing at the door for me to let him in! I was pretty surprised, but I thought it was a coincidence until I tried it again the next day…There he was again, within ten minutes. I called him home by thinking about him nearly every day after that.

your cat care guide
How your Cat Communicates with you

It’s funny, but this never worked with any of the other cats who have lived with me over the years. For some reason, Morris and I had this special way of communicating with each other.

Recently I was having lunch with a friend and we were talking about a favorite subject: cats. My friend mentioned a cat she once had who would sit on the floor staring intently and directly at her. She always felt the cat could understand what she was saying, and that the cat had words of wisdom to tell her. If only she could talk, my friend lamented.

Animals do talk, and they are very happy that we are beginning to not only listen but to talk to them!

How many times have you thought that your cat was trying to tell you something, and then dismissed that thought because of the preconceived notion that cats can’t/don’t talk?

For those of you who are interested in communicating with their cat or want to know how your cat communicates with you, here are some basic steps you can take to participate in the already open lines of communication. In the beginning, you may find it easier to have your cat with you.

your cat care guide
  • Go to a place where you will be undisturbed and where you feel safe to release anything that will stand between you and communicating with your animal. I find an easy way to release any ‘baggage’ is to imagine a box where I dump any distractions, worries, etc. Once I’ve finished, I am free to pick up those worries again – if I want!
  • Ask permission to speak with your cat. If you receive a hunch this is not a good time to talk, honor that and try again later.
  • When you get the ‘go-ahead’, begin conversing. Treat kitty with respect and honor during the conversation, just as you like to be treated when you’re conversing with a friend.
  • TRUST, TRUST, TRUST what you receive! Trust that what you receive is correct, and the information is what the cat needs to say and what needs to be heard at this time. If you find yourself doubting what you receive, ask this: Out of all the millions and billions of thoughts, why did that particular thought come to me at this particular time?
  • At the end of the conversation, thank your kitty companion for conversing with you.
  • Information can come through in various ways: thoughts, pictures, sounds, feelings, emotions, etc. You may receive information in more than one way. As you become more experienced, you may find you have a primary way to receive information.
  • Next time you have the feeling your cat is talking to you, I invite you to accept that feeling as actuality and respond to your cat’s conversation. You’ll be surprised at how this can deepen and strengthen your relationship with your cat!”

Would YOU like to have your cat care article featured here? Email us with your article ideas. We would love to hear from you!

Does your kitty have a special way of communicating with you? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

You can also read:

Healthy Hair of Your Pet: 7 Important Facts

Home Remedies for Lice in Dogs: Everything a Pet Owner Should know

Living with Older Dogs? Here are 5 Key Tips

Urinary Tract Infections In Cats – 4 Thing You Should Know

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