The Language of Cats

Many people love their feline friends, but how much do they actually know about the language of cats?

Rebecca Harris, Columnist

As Joseph Wood Krutch, an American writer, once said, “cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.” Cats are very social animals, and will make noise just to hear themselves talk. But cats have their own interesting ways of communicating with humans. Here are a few ways cats might be communicating with you.

Vocal Patterns

Different cats have different vocal patterns. Some like to constantly vocalize, while others are silent, except for a rare meow. But what many people don’t know is that a cat’s primary form of communication with other cats is not a meow. According to WebMd,  “…once cats get older, they use other vocalizations — such as yowling, hissing, and growling — to communicate with each other. Meowing is reserved for their communications with people.” Cats might meow for a variety of reasons, whether it’s because they’re hungry, or because they want attention, or just to say hello.

Face Communication

Many people say that cats are unemotional or don’t have facial expressions, which isn’t entirely true. “However, compared to wolves and dogs, cats have relatively immobile and flat faces which somewhat limits facial expressions,” states International Cat Care. So humans have to look to the small details, such as eyes. For example, when cats slowly blink, they are trying to portray affection. This is due to the fact that closing one’s eyes is the utmost show of trust. On the other hand, however, direct eye contact is seen as threatening.

Tail Position 

As with everything, tail position will vary from cat to cat. Generally, when the tail is curled around human legs, or another cat’s tail, it translates to friendliness. Should a cat have their tail tucked between their legs, it usually shows nervousness. If the tail is swinging or thumping, it normally means to stay away. 

These are just some of the telltale signs of what a cat might be trying to tell you. Keep in mind that every cat is different. However, next time you play with a cat listen to what they’re trying to tell you. You never know the wondrous things a cat could be waiting to share with you (Related: the life of an outdoor cat isn’t just peculiar, but dangerous).