What Your Cat Is Trying To Tell You

Cats communicate through vocalization, body language and scented markings. Adult cats, living away from humans, have clear communication with one another through scent, facial expressions, complex body language and touch. Meowing is not part of the natural cat language. As cats became more domesticated, meowing developed to gain the attention of humans.

Different pitches, intensity and volume of your cat’s meowing reflect different emotional and physical requirements. In general, your feline friend expresses herself with three different sounds: murmurs, meows and howls. Here’s what your cat is trying to tell you:

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“Follow me” or “Show me attention”

A chirrup or trill is between a meow and a purr. It’s how cats greet each other or how mothers get kittens to follow her. Your cat may need a little TLC or is trying to lure you to where the food is.

“I want to hunt that”

When a cat sits at the window and chatters at a bird or squirrel, its sound is driven by a cat’s innate hunting instinct. Some scientists suggest the chattering replicates the killing bite that cats use to take down prey.

“I’m happy”

Cats purr when they are relaxed and comfortable. They may purr to soothe themselves when they’re sick or injured. Often, purring is accompanied with kneading a favorite blanket or human. This is a learned kitten behavior from when they kneaded their mother’s stomach to stimulate milk production.

“I’m not happy”

Yowling or long, repeated meows point to an unhappy kitty. They do this for various reasons. Excessive yowling, especially early in the morning, might be because of your cat’s internal hunting clock set at that time and the dissatisfaction of not having any prey to catch. It could also mean distress in older cats and signal that it’s time for a visit to the vet. If your cat isn’t spayed, she may be howling because she is in heat.

“I’m frustrated”

Unlike a dog whose wagging tail general means happiness, when your cat wags its tail, it means she is overstimulated or frustrated and wants to be left alone.

“I’m focusing”

When a cat moves her tail slowly from side to side, something has caught her attention and she is focused on it.

“I’m happy to see you”

A cat whose tail is held up high, with ears and head also held high and whiskers pointed forward is being friendly. Your cat could be signaling that she’s happy to hear your voice and wants some attention.

“I trust you”

When your cat exposes her belly, it may be very tempting to give her a belly rub, but it’s usually not a great idea unless you don’t mind lots of scratches on your hands – the bloody kind! When a cat shows her belly, it’s a sign of trust. In the wild, a cat would never show this type of vulnerability to another animal that is regarded as a threat. It’s hard to resist cute, fuzzy bellies, though, so go in if you must – just don’t stay too long!

Your cat may show other communication that only you share with him or her. In any event, your cat will not go unheard, so don’t ignore her!