Let’s face it cats are nothing like dogs and when it comes to communicating with humans it can be frustrating. Most cats are less vocal than dogs and tend not to vocalize with other cats. The exception is the Oriental breeds who can be extremely vocal and have large cat vocabularies. However, communicating with your cat is not as hard as you might think. Cats do send signals and whether vocal or not they do use body language. Here are some examples of cat vocalizations and gestures that will help to understand what kitty is trying to say.
1. Short meow: How youuu doin’
2. Several meows: OMG, where were you? I’m sooo happy you’re here!
3. Mid volume meow: I’m hungry, or let me outside. (a general plea for something)
4. Long drawn out meeeeeoooowww: Hey, you! You forgot to feed me! (a demand for something)
5. Low pitch meeeeooooww: Hey dummy, how lame are you, the service here stinks! (or a complaint)
6. High pitched RRROOOWWW!: Hey, you stepped on my tail! Watch it buddy! OUCH!
7. Purr: General contentment. Can also be used for fear or in pain.
8. Hiss: Get away from me! I will claw you up!
9. Clicking Sound: A sound used by felines when stalking prey.
Body Language and Gestures
1. Tail straight up or straight up with a curl at the end: Happy
2. Tail twitching: Excited or anxious.
3. Tail vibrating: Very excited to see you
4. Tail fur sticks straight up while the tail curls in the shape of an N: Extreme aggression.
5. Tail fur sticks straight up but the tail is held low: Aggression or frightened.
6. Tail held low and tucked under the rear: Frightened.
7. Dilated pupils: Very playful or excited. It can also indicate aggression.
8. Slowly blinking eyes: Affection, the equivalent of blowing a kiss
9. Ears pinned back: Fear, anxiety, aggression
10. Tongue flicking: Worry, apprehension
11. Rubbing head, flank and tail against a person or animal: Greeting ritual, ownership claim
12. Head-butting: Friendliness, affection
13. Face sniffing: Confirming identity
14. Wet nose kiss: Affection
15. Licking: The penultimate sign of affection. Or an indication that you need to clean up after a sardine snack.
Try not to confuse your cat with mixed signals. Use one tone for commands like DOWN or No and another for good kitty and here’s a treat. Cat respond on your body language as well as tone of voice. Unlike dogs cats like the high pitched voice. A good time to use it is when it dinner time or offering treats. A waving hand gesture also works well at this time.
For corrective measures use a firm, loud authoritative voice. Cats love to invade humans personal space. So when kitty keeps walking on the keyboard while you’re trying to work use a firm NO and push the cat away. A loud hissing or spitting noise works well too.
We all think of cats as aloof or finicky. As the old saying goes “Dogs have owners, cats have staff.” In other words you are your dogs master, your cat is your master. True or not cats can be communicated with and will love you more for understanding what they are trying to say.
Here is a link to a very good article that goes into more detail. Enjoy