How to Speak Cat Language. A Useful Guide

Foster Cat won't Stop Meowing

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The non-verbal signals and messages from a cat can be puzzling to us humans. For centuries, cats have been thought of as solitary, mysterious, and unpredictable creatures, pretty much because we can’t understand what they are saying to us. Therefore I am going to answer your question “How to Speak Cat Language”

As humans, we rely on speech to communicate, but cats communicate using a language that is silent to our ears. They adopt a complex combination of vocalization, scent cues, and sign language. 

Here, we teach you how to recognize the basics of cat language, figuring out the most common message combinations, ultimately to understand what your cat is saying. The aim of this article is to allow you to become an expert at cat language, to the extent that you could even answer them back.


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How to Speak Cat Language

7 Steps to Speaking Cat Language


STEP #1 – Vocalizing With Purrs and Meows

To express emotion, cats will make vocal sounds. This can include purring, meowing, growling, and hissing. Each has special meanings and are dependent on the context when they are used. 

Adult cats don’t usually meow at one another. meowing at humans is something domesticated cats have learned to do. Scientists believe that this is because cats view their owners as kittens. 

Why? This is because only mother cats usually meow at their kittens, and this is mainly how the two communicate between each other. 


STEP #2 Ear Talk

Using their ears, cats express their intent and emotion. To express interest, a cat will ensure that their ears are forward-facing. A cat will signal distress or arousal by swiveling their ears back and sideways. 

The more they swivel, the greater the distress or arousal. To show that they feel threatened or that they don’t like what you are doing, your cat will throw their ears back and swipe or hiss.


STEP #3 Eye Talk

Watch the way your cat opens or closes their eyes. Also, look out for when their irises (black part of the eye) dilate. Your cat could be experiencing sudden arousal from interest, fear, or another emotion. If this happens, sudden dilation of the iris will be observed. 

Narrowing the eyes to a slight slit can signal aggression or fear. Trust is indicated by wide-open eyes. Your cat is entirely relaxed when their eyes are sleepy-looking or droopy. If you find your cat staring at another cat without blinking, this is a sign of aggression or dominance.

If you want to try and communicate with your cat using your eyes, you could blink slowly at them. If he or she blinks back, this will indicate affection. 

STEP #4 Tail Talk

A cat can use their tail to signal affection, interest, and even arousal. The motion and the height of the tail are what you need to look at.

Cats want to be approached and welcome interaction or attention when they hold their tails up. A thumping or flailing tail usually indicates that you really need to keep away from your cat. When their tail starts swishing around, this can be a sign that they want to play. It could also mean that they are feeling frustrated.

When the fur on their tail bristles, it indicates that they are on the defensive. But if bristled and held high, they are ready to attack or fight. Should they tuck their tail between their legs, your cat is feeling scared and fearful.

STEP #5 Fur Talk

When a cat’s fur rests well and smooth against their body, it is usually a sign that they are calm and healthy. Being self-grooming creatures, cats will put a lot of effort into their fur when they are well. Conversely, if their fur is rough and unkempt, it might indicate that they are poorly, which should not be ignored. If this is accompanied by other symptoms, like vomiting or lethargy, see a vet. 

Aggression and fear are shown by a sudden fluffed coat with a “bottle brush” looking tail. Stay away from a cat exhibiting this aggressive response.

STEP #6 Scent or Smell

It is quite difficult for people to interpret or detect the smell cues cats emit to communicate. Scent cues cats employ include strong-smelling feces or strongly scented urine, bunting / body-rubbing behavior, and clawing. 

They also leave scented messages that other cats can read. Being selfish about their territory, cats leave behind a scent designed to indicate that “this territory is mine”. A cats’ sense of smell is so great that even kittens utilize scent before they can see.

STEP #7 Body Language

The body language from a cat can signal submission, fear, or even confidence. To translate the message, the body stance needs to be read in conjunction with the ears, eyes, fur, tail, and vocal sounds.

If your cat is happy, content and relaxed, their ears will point slightly forward, their eyes relax, and their whiskers point forward too. As you pay more attention to your cat, reading their signals will become easier.


How to Speak Cat Language


It would be great if cats could talk like humans, but since they can’t, we need to look at other signals and interpret what they mean. This is especially important if they are trying to tell you that they are not well. The earlier you can get your cat to the vet, the more likely you are to ensure your cat stays healthy.

It can take a little time, but by watching your cat a lot, you will soon learn what they are thinking and feeling. You will be able to react to them and make them more comfortable if needed. You will also be able to respond quickly if you or others are about to get attacked.

Watch everything from their tail movements, fur, eyelid positions, ears, iris size, and stance. But it doesn’t stop there. Look out for the smells they emit, which can indicate whether they are feeling territorial or not.

Use this guide and watch out for various body movements. Even the state of their fur can tell you what they are feeling. Soon, you will find yourself able to communicate back to them.

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