Understanding cat body language – how to get to know your pet better

Communication with your own pet is of great importance for all animal lovers and, of course, for cat owners as well. But wouldn’t it be advantageous not to rely only on your intuition?? We reveal what makes the body language of cats and how you can learn to understand your pet better. Because the better you understand your cat, the easier it will be to find a cat that really suits you.

Cat crouched

Body language cat: Communication with the eyes

For the understanding of cats the mimic of the cat plays a crucial role. Cats communicate intensively with their eyes, even small changes in facial expressions can have an important meaning. Half closed and wide open eyes are used by the cat for clear communication as well as staring and blinking.

If the cat blinks his eyes a bit, this is usually the best sign. The half-closed eyes mean that the cat is comfortable in its current environment and does not suspect any danger nearby. If the cat blinks or winks at you, you are welcome to blink back, giving him an additional sense of security. Actually cats do not like direct eye contact, because they always feel a little pressured by it. But blinking works differently, here direct eye contact is definitely desired. A blinking cat signals that it has confidence in its human being. By the way, the blinking happens very slowly in cats and the slower the cat blinks, the safer it feels. This game with the eyes can be interpreted in such a way that the cat in his currently safe position does not have to be on guard at all times and may well keep his eyes closed once in a while. The cat now relies mainly on his ears, which seems to be quite sufficient. Blink back slowly to encourage the cat in its feeling.

It looks quite different when the cat keeps the eyes half closed with a skeptical look. Now, conversely, it assumes that it cannot have confidence in its surroundings and that there may be dangers lurking around it. The cat is in a certain aggressive mood. Of course, this does not apply if the cat has just slept and now needs to wake up first. When the cat stares, it is necessary to differentiate. Staring can mean that the cat is looking at an enemy from a superior stance, or that it is simply interested in something. But how can you tell the difference? Here you should pay attention to the pupils. If the pupils show slits, the cat is taking aim at an enemy or prey. On the other hand, if the pupils are dilated, the cat is simply particularly curious. However, dilated pupils can also express fear in some cases. With slit pupils the cat also usually pulls the ears back, with curiosity the ears are erect. If the cat keeps its eyes wide open with narrow pupils, it feels comfortable and relaxed. During the day the cat will mostly show himself with such wide open eyes. This look and a calm behavior belong together – the cat has basic trust in the environment. Maybe now is the right time to play with the cat a little bit and show off its new toy.

Cats use their heads in many ways

Not only with the eyes, but with the whole head the cat communicates in many ways. What does it mean, for example, when the cat bumps you with his head? This is simply a friendly "hello", a greeting in cat language. For example, when you come home from work and the cat greets you like this, it is a positive, friendly gesture. The cat is finally happy to see you again. Here, by the way, applies: The more strongly the cat hits, the friendlier it is to you. Even if you feel the cat is exaggerating a bit, the gesture is especially positive just then. If the cat nudges you with his head, it is definitely the right time for petting or you grab a cat brush and assist your cat a little in grooming his fur.

Cat makes itself round

It is to be interpreted differently if the cat makes rubbing movements with its head. In the technical language this gesture is also called heading and is used by the cat when it wants to establish a closer connection to its counterpart. Heading is used both in communication with each other and in communication with humans. By the way, the cat also gives off its scent when it heads and in return picks up the scent of its counterpart. Friendship relations are thus strengthened. Often the cat has the mouth slightly open, the rubbing can also be done with the whole body. How you should behave here as a human being? Stroke the cat and scratch it, so you can return its friendly gesture. In addition to this rather general communication, cats can also use heading in a more targeted way. Heading and a tail stretched upwards mean that the cat wants to point something out to you. If the cat rubs its head against your head, it wants to be brushed by you. The cat means here above all those places, to which it comes itself only with difficulty as for instance the neck. So grab a fur brush and start right away.

Also important is the chattering or also the bleating. Cats always show this behavior when they have a prey in their sights, but can’t get to it. Often cats react this way when meeting birds. It is not quite clear whether this is a training behavior, where the cat anticipates biting or whether the cat is simply frustrated. It is different when the cat nibbles on your arm. This is again an expression of affection, the cat is pleased with your presence. This behavior is to be distinguished however from the clawing with the hind legs. The latter means that the cat wants to play now. So do not take too long.

Cattail

The tail as an indispensable means of communication

Hardly any other part of the body the cat uses for communication as intensively as the tail. The whipping with the tail, for example, should be familiar to every cat owner. The cat is now excited and shows aggressive behavior, a whipping cat you best just leave alone. Do not confuse the gesture with that of dogs, which express joy with the wagging tail. The excitement also does not mean that the cat wants to play. The more the tail moves, the more aggressive the cat is also.

On the other hand, how do you understand it when the cat raises its tail steeply?? The raised tail is a sign of joy and greeting, often the cat is seen like this when you return home after a certain period of time. If the tail is bushy in the upright state, however, the cat is afraid. This is often seen when cats fight with each other. Another variant is the erect tail with bent tip. In any case, this means that the cat is currently in a joyful mood. Sometimes it also happens that the cat wags its tail slightly back and forth. The cat is here anything but aggressive, on the contrary, it is now in a rather calm and relaxed mood. The cat now also usually has a high attention level. Maybe she’s watching you do her Litter box clean.

What do purring, hissing and mewing mean?? Important cat sounds

The purring of the cat is easy to interpret: Your cat is simply feeling well and probably wants to be petted. But be careful: cats purr even when they are sick to soothe themselves. If the cat already shows deviant behavior elsewhere, the purring should be understood as a warning signal. In science it is suspected that cats can accelerate healing processes in the body by purring. This is how animals presumably use purring in the case of broken bones. If the cat growls and hisses, something is wrong and the cat becomes angry. This is mainly a behavior for defense: The cat thus wants to put attackers to flight. However, you can certainly stroke your cat at such a moment to calm it down or to support it. By the way: the growling in cats is much more dramatic than the mere hissing. If a cat starts to growl, it really feels threatened.

The mewing is to be interpreted completely differently. The mewing means that the cat wants to entertain itself. This is the way cats chat. Cats do this a lot and like to do it – don’t hesitate to answer them. Less common but also very interesting is the cat song. Why does a cat start to sing? This behavior has definitely less to do with joy or a friendly greeting, but is directed at rivals to keep away from the partner. So the song should be understood as a threat and not as a "love song".

Cat licks paw

Interpret the baaing correctly

Cats often resort to a remedy known as flehmen. In practice, it is sometimes not easy to recognize, the cat looks somehow slightly strange. What are the special signs here? When the cat pleads, it opens its mouth slightly, stares with its eyes and wrinkles its nose. Their behavior is overall rather rigid. Cats plead when you perceive an interesting smell or sexual attractants. The cat now falls back on its Jacobson organ, with which it can analyze smells particularly intensively. If a cat encounters a smell for the first time, it uses this organ, which is located as a small papilla hindern the incisors.

With the help of our guide, anyone can understand the body language of cats. You are still looking for the right cat litter box or a scratching post? In our online assortment you will discover many interesting cat products.

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