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 Cat Body Language

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PostSubject: Cat Body Language   Fri May 28, 2010 11:18 am

Cat Body Language
By Batul Nafisa Baxamusa

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Have you ever tried to decipher the cat body language and tried to understand what your pet is trying to convey? The following article will cover some easy tips that will help you in reading cat body language.

When a cat speaks, it's because it has something to say, unlike humans who are the great refuse containers of speech. ~ V.L. Allineare

Well said by V.L. Allineare, cats do speak only because it has something to say. Hi, let met introduce myself, before I get along with my attempt to help the human race understand cat behavior. I am Peppers, a tom-cat who is tired for being misunderstood by 'my owner' ('My Owner', I say this only to please the human ego. It is I who own the humans, I choose to live with!). Coming back to the point, I know there are plenty of my kind who too want to be understood better by those living with them. This is why I chose to write this article and explain the cat body language to those who are high above the food chain. The following few paragraphs will help you in understanding cat body language and build a better relationship with your pet cat.

Reading Cat Body Language

Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this. ~ Anonymous

From the tip of our nose to the tip of our tail, we are continuously trying to communicate with our human comrades. There are only a few handful people, who we call as the 'cat whisperer', who understand our needs and act according to our commands. Many times, when humans fail to act according to our wishes and desires, they end up with scratch and bite marks all over their body. And to our surprise, they blame us for their misery without even understanding cat body language. We cats are a 'man' of few words, and it is up to those claiming to be our owners to decode the cat body language. The following cat body language chart will help you understand us felines a bit better.

Bodies with a Complex Language

Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you later. ~ Mary Bly

The most natural form of communication for us cats is our body language. You need to figure out cats and their eccentricities by understanding cat body language. The following tips will help you in understanding cat body language better.

Arched Back: If you find our backs arched with fur on end, then it means we want to play. This is the most common way for kittens to let their owners know its play time. However, older cats may use this cat body language to let the human know they want to be alone. If you see this body gesture along with a deep growl, constant eye contact and stiff movements in cat, better back off.

Cat Kneading: Cat kneading is a cat body language that develops in kittenhood. A kitten kneads on her mother while nursing to increase the milk flow. However, a cat kneading on your lap means its just a way to remember the good old days with mum. Or it may also be comforting for many of us.

Rubbing Legs: When we rub ourselves with your legs, it means we are marking you with our pheromones. We have glands in our face and rubbing your legs to get our scent on your body. This scent makes us feel comfortable as everyone in the house smells the same. Also, it helps us get your attention and love. Another important reason for this cat body language, it to let the world know that this human belongs to a particular cat!

Crouching Cat: When a cat has her tail wrapped around the body and crouching it means it is feeling defensive and fearful. When we are standing upright with a slight elevation, it is an offensive posture ready to attack.

Halloween Cat: The Halloween cat posture is the one with arched back with all hair turning into a bristle and tail forming an arch. This means that we are frightened and trying to impose a physically scary look to our opponent. It gives out a clear message, 'leave me alone'.

Aggressive Cat: I love this cat body language and you will find me often taking up this pose. When a cat is aggressive, you will find the pupils are narrowed down to form slits. This helps give us a better depth perception and clear view of our nemesis. The ears will stand up and face forward or may be folded down on the head. The rear end will be held high and tail will be help low. The aggressor will approach the defensive cat prancing sideways. This makes us look bigger to the other cat and back off before all fury is released.

Rolling Over: A cat that rolls over his back, exposing his belly means he is feeling safe and secure around you. Most cats do not attempt to roll over and expose their belly as it is the most vulnerable spot in our body. But, a sleeping cat that rolls over and even allows you to scratch the belly, means it trusts you with its life.

A Tale about A Tail

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. ~ Mark Twain

Hmmmm, a tail, the pride of a cat. Do not make the mistake of thinking that the cat body language is similar to the dogs. We do not wag our tails like the dopey dogs when happy. And more importantly, tail movement in cat language is not called 'wagging', but known as 'flicking', 'lashing', and 'thumping'. If you are reading cat body language, make sure you take the tail movement into consideration. Let me now explain, some of the cat body language about 'my precious', the tail.

Swishing: When you see the whole tail slowly and gently moving side to side, it means we are alert, curious and interested in whats happening around us.

Lashing: When you observe the whole tail moving in a fast and aggressive way from side to side, beware! This means the cat is agitated and annoyed and will soon take the aggressive posture. You may even see our tail hair stand making it look really bushy. Better leave us alone, or be ready to face the 'return of the claws'.

Twitching: A twitching tail means 'I am interested in something I just saw'. And sometimes, a twitching tail is the first sign of an aggressive cat behavior. I twitch my tail, when the cat from the neighborhood, dares to enter my area. If he does not back off, then I begin to lash my tail.

Bolt Upright: A cat walking with his tail straight up pointing towards the sky means 'I am a happy and confident cat'. You will even observe content and confidence in the overall cat body language.

Tail Tuck: If the tail is half tucked between the legs, it means the cat is scared and feels threatened. The head will be down, ears pulled back and body will lie low towards the ground.

Quivering: If you find your cat quivering its tail, you are a lucky human. This is a sign of great affection for the human from a cat. Also, quivering is part of cat spraying behavior.

I Am All Ears

After scolding one's cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for reference. ~ Charlotte Gray

Cats can hear sounds that are up to an amazing 100,000 cycles per second. They can hear high frequency sounds that are about 30 Hertz to 60 Kilohertz. You humans cannot hear what we hear and can detect sounds. We can even differentiate between sounds coming from about three feet away whose sources are just about a three inches apart. Let me now help you in understanding cat body language related to the ear.

Turned Back Ears: When our ears are flattened towards the head and turned back, it means we are feeling threatened. Turning our ears back is just a way of protecting them.

Ears Pricked Up: Ears that are pricked up means we are interested to hear the sound we are listening to. Pricked up ears help you catch the sound without even having to move our heads.

Ear Position Against Head: If the cats ears are facing forward, it means we are happy, curious and alert. If we hold our ears flat against the head, we are in a defensive mode. And when our ears are flat against the head with the tips twisted towards the front, it means we are aggressive.

Eye of the Beholder

Cats always seem so very wise, when staring with their half-closed eyes. Can they be thinking, "I'll be nice, and maybe she will feed me twice?" ~ Bette Midler

Cats have excellent vision and can function at only 1/6th light level that is required for humans to see. We are also known for our beautiful eye colors and the females of the human species wear artificial cat eye contacts. Let me help you read our eyes.

Wide Eyes: You will see wide, staring eyes before and during a cat fight. If your cat stares at you with wide, staring eyes, back off or face painful consequences.

Narrow Eyes: A happy cat will have narrow, slowly blinking eyes. It means he is happy to be around you and other cat or animal in the room. It could also mean the cat is in a submissive mood or content cat.

Meow or Never

A meow massages the heart. ~ Stuart McMillan

Understanding cat body language also includes decrypting the meows. The different meows mean different things. I will help you understand our cat language of meows, purrs and yodels that will prove useful in reading cat body language.

Brief Meow: A meow is a way to help us tell you humans we are hungry or are seeking your attention. When you hear a brief meow that sounds like chirp, means we are feeling affectionate or it is a form of greeting when you return home.

Hissing: Hissing with our mouths open or growling indicates aggression. We may even shriek or spit if we become highly agitated or fearful. You should also look out for other cat body language signs like dilated pupils and tail positions to differentiate between aggression and fear. If our ears are pressed back or pointing sideways, better run to safety.

Caterwauling: Loud cat sounds or yodeling are usually reserved for mating purposes. Sometimes, they are a signal to the human that their cat is in distress or pain. And like some humans, few cats are just loud. Like my fellow cat specie, the Siamese cat loves to engage in loud conversations. You can just ignore the loud sounds or learn to live with it.

Chatter: This is a strange cat behavior accompanied by a strange sound that is accompanied with rapid jaw movements. This is a sign of excitement or frustration. I usually make this sound when I am looking at a bird out of the window and wanting to make it my next meal. (Yum!).

Purring: Purring is the most natural sound we cats develop as kittens. A purr may mean different things, it may be a sign of pain or indication of a content and relaxed cat. Many times a purr is a way to comfort ourselves and show care. I purr a lot as I live a happy and content life with my human.

Everyone knows cats are on a higher level of existence. These silly humans are just too big-headed to admit their inferiority.

Well, that statement is for all those humans who care less to understand the hidden meaning of cat body language. Many people think we cats are distant and uncommunicative creatures. We love only the company of ourselves and want our independence. But, these people have their eyes clouded by the undignified emotional display of dogs. We too, have our ways of saying, 'I love you', if you notice us blinking our eyes a few times in a row. Well, I guess all those reading this page, belong to the smarter bracket of the human race.

Take good cat care as a happy cat is equal to a happy and satisfied owner. I am sure you all agree with Ellen Perry when he says, 'As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat.' I hope this article has helped you understand your cats body language better. Remember, 'A person who manages to understand a cat is qualified to understand almost anything else.' I have to leave now, my human is getting hyper seeing, my paws and hair over her keyboard. 'Meooowwww'.
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