July 19, 2017

Cat Chatter – Decoding Cat Language

This is the first post of a new series, Cat Chatter! The series will be about everything and anything cat-related.

Cats are interesting creatures. Some people even joke that they’re alien spies sent from outer space.

All my life, I’ve grown up around dogs. I’m a long-time dog person. I learned to read dogs, to understand them. So naturally, when I adopted Bentley – I was lost in translation.

If you’ve just brought home a new feline friend for the first time, or you’re thinking of wanting one – I hope this will help you to understand a little bit about them. After all, cats will be cats – I’ll never fully understand them. 😛

Cats are like little people

Dogs are so hilarious in the sense that they are like furry people – each one has its own personality. The same goes for cats – fluffy little people! Bentley is a very social cat for the most part. He’s a very confident cat, a mojito cat*.  Of course he becomes shy when he meets people and other pets for the first time, but once he warms up to you – he’s the life of the party! Also, I’ve never met a cat who has such human-like facial expressions. Here’s Exhibit A.

A cat will speak with their body

It took me a long time to get used to the fact that cats definitely don’t communicate like dogs do. While dogs already communicate with their bodies, a cat will take it even further. And often the body language signals that a dog will give, means something totally different in cat language.

Example: Wagging tail

Dog language: Happy doggo! Do him a pat.

Cat language: Very angry kitty. Will give you the real big frighten.

Cats are moody creatures

Wondering if your cat is happy, meditating or having a bad day? Here are few pointers:

Cool as a cucumber: Sitting or lying down, eyes relaxed, tail still (mostly), ears forward and upright, and purring. If kitty is really happy, he will start kneading with his paws.

Playful: Ears forward and upright, tail up, whiskers forward and pupils sort-of dilated—it’s play time!

Kitty may stalk his prey (usually a toy), then crouch with his butt raised a little bit. Butt wiggles, then…BOOM! He crash-tackles his prey, bite it, and kick it. Toy is now dead.

Agitated or over-stimulated: Pupils dilated, ears flat and tail swishing from side to side (your cat may even growl or put their teeth on you as a warning to back off). Sometimes when playing, cats can become overstimulated, causing them to scratch and bite. If kitty starts to do this – it’s time to take a break from playing.

Nervous or anxious: Ears sideways or flat, pupils dilated and tail low or tucked between legs. When walking through the house, kitty will stay low to the ground and slink about.

Scared or startled: Ears flat against their head, whiskers back, back arched, fur standing on end and tail low. Usually followed by yowling, growling, hissing and spitting. Leave cat alone!

Defence mode: Crouched, ears flattened, whiskers back, tail between their legs or wrapped around their body, and pupils dilated. Kitty may also yowl or growl.

Angry, aggressive: Ears back, pupils very constricted, and their tail may be up or down with the fur standing on end.

An aggressive cat will sometimes stare down another cat that’s in the immediate area and growl or yowl until intruder cat moves or surrenders. Believe it or not, cats don’t really want to fight (they prefer a good ol’ Mexican Standoff). But beware – this can quickly escalate to a fight if one of the cats won’t surrender.

*Reference to Jackson Galaxy’s video on cat personalities. Watch here!

Can you understand your cat?