If you want to understand your cat correctly, you should not try to humanize the animal. Although today’s domestic cat has adapted strongly to humans, many forms of expression still go back to the original behavior patterns of their wild ancestors. They can therefore often be misinterpreted.
Key Stimulus- what is it?
One speaks of key stimuli if the triggers of innate behaviors specific for an animal species are meant. With cats a typical example is the catching of prey. Animals do not have to learn the procedures that are part of a successful hunt. They are naturally present. The quiet movement sounds of a mouse immediately captures the attention. Automatically the cat locates, pursues and grabs its prey animal. Only the specific bite, with which an experienced cat kills its prey, the young cat must learn gradually by itself. From birth, the cat puppies initially even have a bite inhibition, which they must first overcome by their own strength. The strong competition among the siblings helps them, but also the pronounced food envy among themselves.
If something goes wrong during the prey hunt or the competition, it can quickly become dangerous. With the cat health insurance of the DFV your velvet paw is in the best way protected. DFV-TierkrankenSchutz provides up to 100% reimbursement of costs for illness and surgery.
Impersonation behavior of the cat
If a cat encounters a fellow cat or other intruders in its own territory, it will not always immediately go on the attack. Mostly it tries by its behavior to intimidate the opposite at first and to drive away on this way. The cat adopts a posture that makes it look bigger and stronger than it actually is. The famous cat hump is an example of impersonation behavior. From the frontal point of view the silhouette of the cat appears substantially larger and thus more threatening. The effect is further enhanced by their ruffled fur. Already four to five weeks old cats master the deterrent technique of the cat hump.
Why it is great to understand the cat?
The good news first: cats are able to adapt their speech to humans in such a way that the animal’s signals are easy for their owners to understand. The cat communicates with its conspecifics mainly by scent and body language. With the establishment of contact to humans it uses however preferentially sounds. It is more likely to get the attention of the person it is addressed to and can make its wishes and problems known more easily. The bad news is that cats develop very different idiosyncrasies in communication. So there is no universal cat language, which allows to understand every animal from the beginning. Even the cat sounds themselves can vary greatly in sound and volume from animal to animal. This also shows the wide range of character traits that can be found in cats.
If a cat has grown up in the immediate vicinity of humans, it often specifically seeks their proximity and support. The trusted person is greeted and contacted directly for all problems and wishes. For the cat owner it is therefore important to interpret the signals correctly. Hunger, fear, pain or possibly even a serious illness could be behind a "call for help" of the animal stuck. Here quick understanding is important for fast assistance. In case of doubt one should always go to the veterinary surgeon. Possible high costs of a veterinary treatment can be cushioned by a cat health insurance. Thus one can secure the comprehensive health care of its cat also financially. The intensive communication with their humans is crucial for the well-being and the balanced social life of the cat. Not infrequently it is perceived as a full member of the family.
Body language of the cat
Many forms of body language of a domestic cat are immediately understandable. If the fur is bristling and the back is bent into a hump, the cat is either afraid or wants to drive away an opponent who is perceived as a threat. Even people who do not have a cat know this. And when the cat yawns, it is immediately clear that it is tired. But here already begin the peculiarities in cat behavior. Yawning is often also a clear sign of well-being and an expression of deeply felt security. When the cat tries to nudge us with its nose, it means more than a simple tap to get attention. It is rather a sign of trust and friendship. The nose of the cat is very sensitive. She would never stretch out this vulnerable part of her body to a threatening creature.
The wagging of the tail of a cat is not the same as a happy wagging of the tail of a dog. It is rather not a good sign and indicates nervousness, inner excitement or indecision. A ruffled tail is even an attack signal. In the very different forms of expression, by the way, the true reason for the widespread enmity between cats and dogs is suspected. The fact that the two animal species do not get along well can therefore be taken quite literally and provides a plausible explanation. On the other hand, the cat, like the dog, is capable of learning. If they grow up together and can get to know their peculiarities extensively, the coexistence usually runs harmoniously. Cat and dog can become friends.
Characteristic of the body language of cats are also their highly developed motor skills and impressive body control. Climbing, balancing and jumping are not significant challenges for a healthy animal. However, if a domestic cat conspicuously avoids certain movements and often retreats to a quiet place, there may be a disease behind it. If the cat shows such behavior, an appointment should be made with the veterinarian. Some diseases are also directly readable by the outer appearance of the cat. If the coat looks shaggy and lackluster, this may be due to health reasons.
The body language of the head
Cats have their own facial expressions. The posture of the head and the facial expression are a signal to the environment and additionally give a reliable impression of its momentary condition. Confidential blinking with half-closed eyes and nestling of the head are clearly friendly gestures and a sign of the greatest sympathy. Continued staring can indicate great interest, but it can also be a warning: "Don’t come near me! not too close. As a threat is also usually the showing of the teeth meant. A long stretched neck is against it a sign of large curiosity, paired with careful respect.
What can the eyes of a cat betray?
If the cat stares at us with large pupils and wide open eyes, it speaks for its great interest and curiosity. If the pupils are constricted, however, staring is to be understood as an unmistakable threat. This is especially true if the cat is also hissing and its ears are flattened. Confidential blinking of the eyes, on the other hand, is a sign of friendly approach and the search for closeness.
Interpret the different positions of the cat ears correctly
The ears of a cat are versatile signal transmitters to the outside world. The cat has 32 muscles to turn the ears in all directions and to put them in different positions. If both ears point upright, everything is fine. The cat is relaxed. If only one ear is turned slightly to the side, this may indicate a certain degree of insecurity. If both ears are turned to the side, this is a sign of annoyance or anger. If the ears are also flattened, this is an indication of defensive readiness. If a cat is afraid, the same ear position is shown. If the ears are laid flat back, it threatens with immediate attack.
The body language of the tail
The cat uses its tail to keep its balance better during demanding movements and to be able to counteract when jumping. But the cat’s tail is also a highly developed tool for signal transmission and a reliable indicator of moods of all kinds: A vertically raised tail is to be understood as a friendly greeting. The cat seeks closeness and usually immediately nestles against the legs of the person. If the raised tail trembles perceptibly, then it signals joyful excitement. If the tip of the tail points upwards and the tail hangs downwards, the cat is relaxed and content. If the tail is slightly raised and takes the form of a question mark, the mood is good and the cat is full of energy. If the tail follows a continuous circular shape, this shows curiosity and attention. A horizontally held tail means: "Please do not disturb." If the cat has its tail sideways, this speaks for embarrassment. With a female animal it could be however also a sign for the fact that the cat is in heat. A lowered and ruffled tail represents fear and readiness to attack. If the tail twitches left and right, the cat is very excited or completely unsettled. If the cat clamps its tail between its hind legs, this indicates that it has been badly treated or oppressed by its fellow cats. But also pain or diseases lead to this pitiful posture. A high raised tail with pushed through tail tip, on the other hand, is a sign of anger.
Other signals that cats give through their body
Scientists have calculated that a domestic cat has a repertoire of up to 75 different postures with which it can express moods or send signals. These messages are not always immediately understandable to us. If the cat presents its belly, this is not a gesture of humility or a sign of submission, as in a dog. On the contrary, in this position the cat takes an extremely effective defensive position. All four paws are ready to strike with extended claws. Intuitively correct, as a gesture of trust, is understood by most people when the cat approaches with its head down and rubs its little head devotedly against the human being. The scent glands on the sides of the head, contribute to the fact that the cherished person so takes the smell of the cat. The familiar scent additionally strengthens the feeling of close bond. The same function has the cleaning of her people with tongue and paw. This is not so much about grooming, but about intensifying and strengthening the bond with the caregiver.
Cats hardly communicate with each other by sounds, but almost exclusively by body language and scents. One of the few exceptions is the communication between the mother cat and her kittens. This may have its cause, however, in the fact that cat babies are initially blind after birth. The cat prefers to use sounds in order to communicate with humans. In the millennia of the domestication a variant-rich cat language developed thereby. We hear the familiar meowing because the cat has learned that we are particularly attentive to this sound. Actually, this sound belongs only to the behavior of kittens and disappears with adulthood.
Meowing, purring, yowling
Domestic cats use sounds almost exclusively to communicate with humans. When the cat purrs, you are glad that it is well. In rare cases cats purr even when they are sick, injured or stressed. Then the purring does not turn however to humans, but serves rather the self-calming and the stress dismantling. The message is clear, however, when your cat hisses or growls. This signal is immediately understood not only by humans, but also by other animal species and their own conspecifics. The meowing of the cat means in principle: "Man, I want something from you." The cat varies the sound to quite different messages. A short sound stands for a friendly greeting. A long meow is rather a sign of great distress, for example strong hunger or the urgent wish to get a closed door opened. Also the invitation to play is announced over an encouraging Miau. Does your cat stress the first syllable of the "meow"?, this indicates that she is frightened and intimidated. Chattering and yelping goes back to the hunting behavior and is to be interpreted that the cat is extremely concentrated. The so called "batting" is a screech that increases towards the end, which the cat emits when attacking. Cooing is a throaty sound that your cat uses for friendly contact. Chirping and chirping are calls, which the cat uses primarily to call its own offspring to come. The yowling, reminiscent of baby cries, is not directed at humans, but during the mating season at possible sexual partners in the vicinity.
The scent language
Cats can smell what is going on in their fellow cats. They therefore also use scents specifically for communication. Not only to mark out territorial boundaries. The markings themselves tell the other house cats much about the state of mind of the originators. For example, whether they are dominant, frightened, ready to conceive or pregnant. Also by sniffing each other cats learn a lot about their conspecifics. Scent glands on the head, back and base of the tail give important messages to other cats. Sensitive receptors behind the incisors, on the tongue and in the nose allow to read the different scents. Humans are naturally left with this information closed. However, the cat includes him in its scent language. By rubbing their head against their loved one, they are provided with the familiar scent from the glands at their temples. Thus, the cat strengthens its sense of belonging and appropriates the human as a family member.
Can cats understand humans?
Cats are intelligent animals. They observe humans very closely and learn, for example, how they react to their own vocalizations. After that they optimize their cat language more and more, until any obstacles in the communication are eliminated. Because cats act very success-oriented and are strongly fixed on humans. Even if this may not seem so to many cat owners in every situation. A smooth communication with the human being is an elementary component of their existential care. The cat learns from its experiences and can even modify its innate behavior to the necessities of contact with humans. In this respect it concerns the cats less to understand humans. Their goal is rather to meet the human being according to to control their own needs.
How to communicate properly with my cat?
To a species-appropriate attitude of the cat belongs a profound knowledge of the natural needs and demands of the pet. The cat appears to many people as a loner, but in the domestic environment, it is a very social being. Their strong bond with humans is sometimes underestimated. Without his attention, the cat suffers greatly and can become behaviorally abnormal in the long run. It needs the intensive occupation with the human being also, because it would be otherwise underchallenged and bored as an intelligent animal.
A cat is strongly fixated on its own territory. Change of location to a foreign environment unsettles the animal. For example, many cat owners are surprised when their cat constantly wants them to open the doors, only to return to the previous room. Here, however, she is just following her natural instinct, all areas "their" To hold precinct constantly under exact control. Cats have a distinct character. Nevertheless, they can also be guided and educated to a certain extent. The principle of positive reinforcement of a desired behavior brings good results. A small treat at the right time leads faster to the goal than any punishment.
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