A Handy Guide to Understanding Your Cat’s Behavior And What It Means

Cat Behavior

As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat
―Ellen Perry Berkeley

If you are the owner of one such beautiful feline creature, then you probably know what I am talking about. For example being the “owner” (I am just trying to address a wounded ego) of one such beautiful tabby cat, I know that my cat is only as domestic as she would want to be. She is aloof one moment, loving the next, sometimes boring, and most of the time just downright eccentric. However, most of all, I think that it is an adventure being with a cat and trying to understand the strange cat behavior and what it means.

Understanding Cat Behavior

People have the impression that cats are aloof, big-headed, and completely independent. Well, I would like to tell all those people that they are absolutely right! However, instead of calling them aloof, I think a better word to describe cats is individualistic (Well, they are kind of snooty, I just don’t think they got over the fact that they were worshiped in ancient Egypt as Gods). The only way that you can gain an insight on this mystery of cats is by understanding their behavior and maybe (I said maybe) you might get “adopted” by a cat (Please try to understand it is never the other way round).

Purring Contentedly: This is the cat’s way of telling you it is now contended and at peace with its surrounding. Most cats purr when they are being petted, secure, content, and sleeping. Sometimes, cats may also purr when they are in extreme pain so as to calm themselves. However, it is mostly a sign of happiness and contentment.

Bolting Outside: This is one strange cat behavior which has caused much distress to me as the owner of a cat who is completely in love with the outdoors. So each time we opened the door, we could see an “orange streak” running out as fast as it could. Well, most cats love the sights and smells of the outdoors and just want to explore everything in the world. Cats which have not been neutered or spayed, run out to find a mate when they are in heat.

Scratching Furniture: I know how distressing the claw sharpening can be for a pet owner, but the actual reason why cats sharpen their claws is because they either want to clean their nails or mark the territory as theirs.

Kneading: A common domestic cat behavior is kneading. You may sometimes find your little kittens kneading your favorite sweater, comforter, pillow, your lap, or even your hair. This rhythmic motion of pushing the claws in and out while licking may actually be an inherited behavior formed in the kittens during nursing. The kneading motion helps promote the flow of milk. When a cat is satisfied and contended in your lap, it might knead to show its warmth and love for you.

Cat Speech: Meow is like aloha – it can mean anything – Hank Ketchum.

You would be surprised to find the different versions of the classic “meow”. In fact, cats make a variety of sounds to express a range of emotions from contentment to a call for help, from solicitation of food or companionship to a bloodcurdling howl of stark terror. Most of the time, the loud meows are just an indication that our cat needs to have food (It does not matter what you are doing of course, food should come first). While angry or frightened cats usually hiss, yowls are a clear warning that whoever or whatever is approaching should come no closer.

Similarly, you will often find a cat “calling” or yodeling in a mournful, spooky way. Although we might assume this normal vocalization for pain, confusion, or loneliness, yodeling in female cats is a signal their readiness to mate. There may also be times when you may find your cat making those weird chirping or chattering noise while looking out of the window. These noises are usually reserved for when they see birds outside the window.

Body Language: The lithe movements of a cat and every inch of its body from the nose to the tail speaks volumes about its state of mind. The ears are a good marker of a cat’s feelings. So the farther back the ears are laid, the more defensive and annoyed it is. Ears flattened to the sides may indicate a fearfulness or anxiety in a situation. You can find a curious or friendly cat with its ears pricked forward and erect.

Wide-open relaxed eyes reflect a neutral state of mind. While the relaxed, narrowed eyes usually mean the cat’s submission or just contended in your presence. Similarly, while dilated pupils indicate fear, pupils which are constricted might suggest aggression.

My cat speaks sign language with her tail – Robert A. Stern

A cat’s tail is an indicator of what it wants to say. An erect tail is usually part of a friendly greeting or a “follow-me” message which it tries to put forth to you so that it can lure you towards where the cat food is stored. A lashing tail might indicate excitement, anticipation, or agitation, especially just before pouncing in play or while hunting. A cat which is threatened and angry will display the classic bottle brush tail. This is surely an indication that you should now walk away.

Understanding cat behavior is essential for addressing its needs, solving the behavior problems, and building a harmonious relationship with the cat. And imagine how thankful the cat would be to know that it does not have to go through all that fuss to make you understand that all it wants is FOOD.

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Hi, I'm Jess and this is Nala.

I've loved cats since I was a child and over the years I became obsessed with them. I love all animals and pets, but I have studied cats with special passion. I’ve spent most of my life trying to understand them and why they are the best companions, if they ‘allow’ you to be their friend.

I put this blog together with the aim of sharing things about cats that interest me and that can help you to understand your own…

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you find something to interest you along the way.



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