For International Cat Day we want to talk about learning about your cat. We all know that cats dance to the beat of their own drum. They are independent and don’t need human interaction with the exception of food and a 15 second head scratch. Anything more than 15 seconds and you’ll get bit! Kidding aside, we're going to cover:
- Body Language
Learning these elements will strengthen the bond of your furry one so let’s get started:
- Learn your cat’s body language - Look at the entire cat. Although we rely on certain key body parts when assessing posture, such as ear and tail position, the posture of these specific body parts must be taken into context with the entire posture of the cat.
Body postures can be subtle. For example, your cat may put her ears back a little, which may be hard for us to see.
Breed variations. Manx cats have a shortened tail or are missing the tail altogether, which may make it more difficult to communicate with us.
Body postures may change over time. Your cat may start out with fearful body postures, but as they learn that their behavior is effective, (i.e. their aggression works to drive scary people away) they may start to look more confident, even though her underlying motivation is fear.
Most cats with behavior problems tend to be fearful and stressed rather than confident. Panting, ears laid back, flattened against the head, refusing food, tail tucked under the body, legs tucked under the body, leaning away, crouched body are all signs of a fearful and stressed cat.
Learn your cat’s personality - You'll learn a lot when you can interpret your cat's wide vocabulary of meows. They'll tell you when it's time to get up (when your cat wants you too!), when they are feeling affectionate and if they're feeling threatened or in pain.
"Meow" is an all-purpose word. Your cat may be saying "meow" as a greeting ("what’s going on?"), a command ("Give me food, stop petting me"), an objection ("Touch me at your own risk") or an announcement ("Here's your mouse"). Some people have watched their cats walking around the house meowing to themselves.
Purring is a sign of happiness (mostly). Cats purr whenever they're happy, even while they’re eating. Sometimes, however, a cat may purr when they are anxious or sick, using a purr to comfort themselves, like a child sucking his thumb.
Growling, hissing or spitting indicate a cat who is annoyed, frightened, angry or aggressive. Leave this cat alone.
A howl (they sound like loud, drawn-out meows) tells you your cat is in some kind of distress—stuck in a closet, looking for you or in pain. Find your cat if they are making this noise. However, in unneutered and unspayed cats, these sounds are part of mating behavior (and very annoying). And if your cat is elderly, they may be suffering from a cognitive disorder (dementia) and may howl because he's disoriented.