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Cats are good at letting you know when they want something, either vocally or with their bodies. But what exactly is your cat trying to say? Read on to learn more about your cat’s behaviour.
What are cats saying through meows?
As your kitten grows up, their little 'mews' will start to be replaced by more grown-up, distinctive 'meows'. Interestingly, cats have learnt, through domestication, to ‘speak’ to humans. Meows are virtually never directed at other cats, just at humans. So listen up, they’re talking to you!
Low-pitched meows usually mean your cat is uncomfortable or unhappy for some reason. High-pitched, chirpy meows mean they’re happier, and if they keep repeating them, they’re seeking your attention for some reason. Eventually, you'll get to know when your kitten's trying to say “feed me”, “love me” or “I’ve had enough of being stroked now!”
What does purring mean?
Purring is usually a sign of contentment, although this is not always the case. A cat that is ill or anxious will sometimes purr as a way to self soothe. However, most of the time when your kitten is purring loudly while rubbing against you, or sitting on your lap, it's a sign of affection or a request for something, such as food.
Why your cat hisses and growls
If you're hearing these noises, you have one frightened or angry little kitten. These noises are usually accompanied by postures and expressions such as puffing out their fur or pulling back their ears and they’re trying to sound as scary as possible to protect themselves. You'll usually hear them hiss and growl during tense encounters with other animals, however they may also use these sounds to communicate that they are unhappy about something that you are doing to them.
Why do cats rub their face on you?
When your cat rubs their face up against you, they’re depositing pheromones from their cheeks as a way to say “Mine!” Pheromones are chemical messages produced all over a cat’s body that can communicate different things, such as possession, alarm, or sexual status. Face rubbing is a good sign, because your kitten is showing that they like you and they’re comfortable in your company.
Cat tail body language
A cat's tail is an excellent indicator of their feelings. A happy kitten will hold their tail straight up, but if they’re frightened, they’ll tuck it between their legs or puff it out.. The broad swishing of an adult cat's tail shows annoyance or impatience. If they’re really agitated, their tail will move rapidly from side to side; this is clearly threatening behaviour. A twitching tail is a sure sign of your kitten's excitement and curiosity. If you’re stroking a cat and their tail starts twitching or flicking from side to side, it’s best to remove your hand as it’s often a sign they’ve had enough. Make sure your children know these signs too, because missing these subtle cat communications often ends up with children being scratched or bitten. Too often the cat gets the blame, when we just didn’t notice what they were trying to tell us.
Your kitten’s ears can also give you clues. Pricked ears are an indication of interest in what's going on around them. If the ears are held erect and inclined forward, they’re feeling relaxed and friendly. But when a cat flattens their ears down against their head, it's a sign of fear or aggression. Sideways ears can also be a sign of tension and alertness.
What it means when your kitten kneads/makes biscuits
It's common to see a cat kneading the space in which they’re about to settle down or when sitting on your lap or chest. This movement indicates contentment and is a throwback to the time when they were suckling from their mother, when they would knead the teat to increase the flow of milk.
Your cat's habits: curiouser and curiouser
There's no doubt that cats have some very curious habits. Have you ever spread a newspaper out on the table and tried to read it with your cat around? They’ll jump onto the table and settle down right in the middle of the paper, daring you to move them! You won't be allowed to substitute anything for that paper, and there will be no tempting them onto a cosy cushion or chair instead. Why? Because by being on that paper, they’ll have your full attention.