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  • Writer's pictureShannon McKinzie

A Cat's Behavior

The allure of cats is their mystery and aloofness. Their sweet purrs when they find themselves in the mood to snuggle up with their owner, or the excitement of little paws swatting a jingle ball all about the floor. Even more fascinating is how much our feline companions try to communicate with their humans and other cats. We humans, however, have had a bit of a learning curve. However, more and more studies have helped us better understand a cat's behavior. For instance, did you know that the closing of one's eyes is the ultimate sign of trust in the feline world? Let's look at some other forms of body communication of cats.

Audio Communication

We believe that cats have adapted their meows to get their needs met. Cat's rarely use this form of communication with other cats. It's used more to get our attention, express greetings and approval, or demands for food. Below are some guidelines to help understand what your cat is trying to tell you audibly.

· Purring most commonly shows contentment and may also be a comfort-seeking behavior when the cat is recovering from illness or close to death.

· High-pitched gurgling or chatting shows friendliness.

· Growling, hissing, or spitting are emphatic warnings to stay away until the cat has calmed down.

· Caterwauling is a loud, guttural sound like no other. It is a mix between a whine and all out yowl that cats (especially males not neutered) make when threatened by other cats, a signal to breed, they are in pain, an alert signal or an extreme feeling of insecurity, vulnerability and stress.

Tummy Exposure

Feline and Canine body language is very different. When a dog shows his tummy, he is submissively looking for a good belly rub. Contrarily, a cat's behavior can be flirtatious then roll over to expose her belly and they meet you with overt aggression when you try to stroke it. At first, there were feelings of relaxation and contempt, however, when she felt cornered and unable to escape, claws extend and sharp teeth defensively are ready to fight. It is important to learn what your cat prefers in your human-cat interactions.

The Eyes

My favorite is the fluttering blink which communicates affection. They are slow, languid blinks that show you are aware of each other's presence, yet pose no threat. Have fun with this one and the next time your cat is fluttering her eyes at you, give her some slow blinks in return!

The Tail

One of the most accurate barometers of a cat's mood is his tail.

· Held high shows confidence

· Curled around your legs shows friendliness

· Tucked below or underneath his body shows insecurity or anxiousness

· Held upright is a distinct show of feeling threatened (when combined with an arched back, upright hair along spine and unsheathed claws, this is a stance that says to back off immediately)

Keep in mind that even the most mild-mannered cats may retaliate if feeling threatened or aroused by too much play or petting. Cats are stimulus driven predators by nature. When they see something move, a toy or a hand, they are hard-wired to pursue it. If it is your hand, be sure to freeze, and this will throw off his inbred stalking pattern.

A cat's behavior is mysterious, however, we are learning more about their cues and communication. Pay attention to your cat's body language and audio cues to help secure a mutual respect and loving human-cat relationship.

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