Over the years I learned a lot about keeping Cats and Dogs. And one thing I have learned in my senior years is that cats are a completely different ball game to dogs. I know that sounds obvious but bear with me. Today we are going to learn about Cat language.
We all know that a cat can not be trained in the same way as a dog can. Have you ever tried to make a cat beg or rollover? Well, don’t even try.
What we can do though is learn how to interpret what they are telling us whether through the sounds they make or through the more and subtle differences in the body language e.g. the tail, eyes or ears.
What I have learned from understanding your cat is that you will dramatically improve the relationship you have and give you the self-satisfaction that you will achieve from that knowledge.
Understanding Cat Meows
A cat meow is a diverse form of communication and as cats rarely meow to each other they use the meow to tell us a lot of things such as a Hello, I am hungry, I want to pee and so on. The meow can alter in pitch and as you learn the subtle differences in the meow then consider this. If I wish to make a point then I may raise my voice to make the point or if I would like a cup of coffee then the tone sounds would be completely different. Its the same in a cat. The tone will alter depending on the different needs.
For example, below is a short video of our 15-year-old cat “Frosty” Because of her age she has become somewhat cantankerous in her ways but if you listen to the sounds she makes you will be able to work out what she is saying.
- The Short and Fast Meow: A form of greeting to you signifying a “hello“”
- Quick Multiple meows: When you have left your cat for the through work or another reason then this is the sound they make to let you know that they are pleased to see you and are happy you have returned home.
- A mid-pitched type meow: This type of meow is that they are trying to tell you something, for example, that they are hungry or need some playtime and attention.
- A long drawn out meow: Again this a plea for something like “I would like to lay with you and need petting””
- The low pitch meow sound: Your cat, as our “Frosty” does quite often is used to tell you that they are not pleased with you. Maybe the litter box needs a clean.
- A higher pitch of meow sound: Pay attention to this as they may be feeling unwell or have an injury.
Other Cat Sound Meanings
Cat Trill Sounds
A Cat Trill is best described as the rolling of the R. For example when I spent some time in Aberdeen, Scotland they would always roll the letter R in the conversation for example in the song Ruby it would come out as RRRRuby.
A cat uses a trill when she has a new litter and to keep the kittens all together and let them know that mum is there to protect them.
They may also trill to us humans as a form of greeting like we say Hi or Hello. It can also signify that they are happy and content and may trill when rubbing against you along with purring.
I remember when we went through the experience of one of our cats giving birth to her litter she would constantly trill throughout the night to her kittens.
In normal circumstances, it may become annoying after time, however, don’t ignore it as they are trying to tell you something and you will have to try to find out what they need.
If you can, after some practice learn how to trill you can actually have a conversation with your cat. Just remember to roll your RRRR’s.
Cat Growling and Hissing Sounds
I always find that when one of our cats displays a growling sound it makes us aware that something is wrong right away.
I personally find the growling sound somewhat intimidating and I always tend to back off a bit in case she decides to inflict a nasty scratch on you.
The growl is an obvious sound of anger and that they are not happy at all.
It may be that they do not want to be touched, or spoken to in any way. After all, we all have our moody days and it is the same in our cats.
A growl is usually accompanied by a hissing sound and our old cat Frosty will do this quite regularly, but we always forgive her and simply leave her alone until she gets over her mood.
You should, however, be aware that she may have an illness so bear that in mind.
They may also growl and hiss at other cats and dogs and they are showing a sign that they are the boss and top of the food chain. It is a warning and saying “Don’t mess with me”
Out cat will usually go upstairs and cool down for a while then reappear sometime later and we know that the mood has passed.
Below is a short video of Cat Growling & Hissing sounds.
Cat Chatter Sounds
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Cat chattering sounds go back in time before they were domesticated and would copy the sounds of their pray.
In modern times you will find your cat chattering when looking outside through a window at birds or small animals.
The natural wild instinct of hunting for food still remains in them and they will chatter before they make a kill.
All cat owners have experienced a cat brings to them a bird or mouse. This is a natural instinct and they are actually offering you the prey in the form of a present and seek your approval.
However, it can be hard to give approval for this action when you see a dead bird on your carpet.
It appears that the chattering is a primeval reaction to hunting and is embedded deep within and can not be stopped.
In the below video you will find the typical example of cats chattering.
Cat Trill Sounds
The Trill sound is primarily a way of a cat saying Hello to you. It may be in the morning or when you come home from work.
Either way, it is a feline form of a greeting.
You may find that they tend to trill when getting petted and is usually accompanied by purrs. (See next section) head butting and kneading on you with their paws.
It means that they are happy and content and gives us cat parents an enormous amount of satisfaction.
Trilling is different from a meow as the sound comes from your cat with the mouth closed but you need to be aware of the subtle differences.
The Cat Purr
What can I say about the Cat purr? After all, everyone understands and has heard a cat purring.
However, the purr is misunderstood and not just a sign of your cat is happy and content.
The purr can be used when your cat is in a stressful situation and can be used to actually calm themselves down. It can be used to manage illness pain as they just can’t go to the doctors.
A purr is also used when the female gives birth to a litter to soothe and offer security to the kittens as they are born blind.
The Mum cat will simultaneously purr and clean the kittens at the same time.
Cat Body Language
We have covered the vocal sounds that cats make and we are now going to have a look at Cat body language.
Cat Body Language Tail
A cat’s tail and the position of the tail can tell you an awful lot about what your cat is feeling and saying.
As I have already said you have to be aware of the subtle differences in the cattail language in order to improve your relationship.
A tail pointing upwards will signify that they are happy within their territory and also is a sign of warning to other cats to make them aware that this is my territory and I am the boss. A slight twitch within the tail means that they are content and happy within their area.
A tail with a curve
This tells you that they wish to play with you and are bored. Just grab some toys and keep them busy for a while.
A tail that is puffed up
This action is a sign of aggression. It may be accompanied by vocal warnings. They may have seen or sensed a form of danger to them and they are ready to pounce and fight if necessary.
This action may well be accompanied by the tail swishing back and forward that serves as a warning to other cats.
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My final thoughts.
I do hope that the information I have given to you today has helped you understand your cat in a far more positive way.
There is no greater feeling than being able to give your cat a truly happy life and have a fantastic relationship together.