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Are you fluent in feline? Know your yowl from your meow!

It's the fourth and final week of #CLAWGUST and this week is dedicated to cat communication!

Cats make wonderful family pets, and are full of personality. Cats all have their own individual traits, some may like their belly being tickled, and a lot won’t!

Getting to know your cat, and the way they communicate can help you understand your pet and how they are feeling and below we have a few hints and tips to help you become fluent in feline.

Tail

A cat’s tail can tell you a lot about how your cat is feeling. When it is upright in the air, it’s like a wave to say “hello, I’m here, fuss me please!” If the cats tail has a question mark at the end, it’s more of a tentative greeting, where the cat is slightly unsure, but still wants to say hello. A twitching tail is the cat’s way or warning they have had enough, and a tail with all the hair standing on end is the cat’s way of showing they’re scared. When a cat is in hunting/stalking mode, their tail is normally straight out behind them, sometimes with the ends twitching, almost as if in excitement.

Ears

The external part of a cat’s ears can rotate to improve hearing, and they can give a clear visual indicator as to how a cat is feeling. Flattened ears, against the side or the back of their head are a sign of an aggressive or fearful cat. A relaxed cat will have their ears facing forward in the normal position.

Eyes

Your cat’s eyes might be dilated because they are being playful, fearful, aggressive or agitated. A slow blink is a sign that your cat is feeling relaxed. Have you ever tried slow blinking back?

Meowing

Cats communicate with each other through a variety of ways; yowling, howling, hissing and other vocalisation. However, did you know meowing is reserved just for us humans? Kittens meow to their mothers, but naturally, cats do not meow into adulthood. Cats have learnt that meowing gets a reaction from us, which is why they continue to do it. You may even be able to tell the difference between your cat’s meows. Have you noticed different meows for food or when a cat is asking for attention? Some cats are more vocal than others are, and the better you get to know your pet, the more likely you are to be able to tell the difference.

Biting

Cats can bite to show when they have had enough of something. Naturally, cats prefer short, frequent periods of interaction, so they may show aggression after some fuss and attention, to show you they have had enough, and then come back a short while later for more! Getting to know your cat will help you understand when they are ready for a break. Cats may bite and show aggression through fear, or for territorial reasons. If your cat has suddenly started to show aggression which is against their normal character you should consult with your vet.

Exposing their belly

Cats will expose their belly as a sign of trust. Sometimes, you may find your cat exposes their belly when you enter a room, or are having cuddles on the sofa. Your cat is showing you they trust you and feel relaxed in your presence, they are not normally asking for their tummy to be tickled. Your cat is likely to be more grateful of a tickle behind their ear rather than a tickle to their tummy.

Leaving scents

Scent is a big part of how cats communicate with each other. Spraying is one way cats leave their scent. Often, cats will spray at the edge of their territory, especially when they are feeling stressed. Stress could be due to a change in the home routine, or a new cat in the area. If you are unsure why your cat is urinating indoors, make an appointment with your vet to rule out any medical problems and then consult a qualified and experienced cat behaviourist.

Cats also leave their scent around by rubbing up against items. Your feline friend might rub up against you more when you have been out, not only as a greeting, but also to leave their scent on you. Have you ever noticed your cat rubbing around your ankles more if you have visited another home with cats?

Purring

Who doesn’t love the sound of their own cat purring? We often consider cats purring to be a sign of contentment, and that is normally the case. The cats purr is a comforting noise to them (and us!), and mother cats will often purr to their kittens to offer comfort. A cat will also purr when they are unwell, or stressed, to try and provide comfort to themselves.

Kneading

Kneading is when a cat paws you, or its surroundings, as though kneading dough. Cats knead their mother’s nipples to help stimulate milk, so this action is a remembered presence of the feeling of contentment, warmth and security.

There are many theories as to why cats still show this behaviour into adulthood, they could be kneading as a way to mark territory, through the scent glands on their feet, or making an area soft to rest.

A cat kneading is a natural behaviour, and a cat kneading on you is a sign of contentment. Some cats sheath their claws when they knead, but if yours does not, you can just keep a thick towel or pillow to hand to place over your clothes to help protect them.

We have many cats in our centres who are full of personality and looking forward to relaxing in a home of their own. You can treat one of the animals whilst they are waiting for their forever home by visiting our Amazon Wishlists, and sending them something special.

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