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How Can Cats Communicate?
Cats communicate in many ways. They vocalize, use body language, act and release scents.
1. The Vocal Cat
Cats make three types of sounds.
– which includes purring, trilling and chirping
– which includes the basic “meow”, meows and calls
C. Aggressive sounds
– which includes grunting, growling, hissing, howling, screaming and spitting.
Purring is a continuous, gentle vibrating sound that indicates a cat’s positive state. However, cats are also known to purr in stressful situations, such as when they are seriously injured, in pain, sick or tense. It is believed that cats purr when they are happy, need a friend, or thank you for being cared for, for example when a vet treats an injured or sick cat and gets a purr from it.
Kittens learn trilling from their mothers when she uses it to tell her babies to follow her. Adult cats usually greet other cats. A trill sounds like a short purr and a meow combined.
Chirrups are meows that roll off the tongue. Mother cats call their young from the nest with chirps. It is also used by friendly felines when approaching a human or another cat. Cats beep excitedly when watching or stalking prey.
Cats’ most famous sound is “meow”. Kittens mostly meow at people and can be plaintive, assertive, welcoming, bold, friendly, attention-seeking, complaining, or demanding. Sometimes the meow is silent when the cat opens its mouth, but nothing comes out.
Mews are soft, early sounds kittens make and are used to get mom’s attention.
Females make calls when in heat, called “caterwauling”. Males also call during fights, especially over females during mating.
Growling, hissing, growling, and spitting are the loud sounds cats make when they are in either a defensive or attacking mode. These danger sounds are often combined with body posture to convey a threat, for example when a cat fluffs its fur and hisses at a dog that gets too close. Muriseessaan pillu antaa varoituksen “perääntykää ennen kuin saat kynnet”.
Cats hiss when they are angry, startled, scared or hurt. A cat that invades another’s territory will get hissed and growled, and if he doesn’t leave, he may be attacked.
2. Body language
Cats use body language to express a wide range of emotions. As a sign of fear or aggression, the cat arches its back, puffs up its fur and uses a sideways position. And a sign of relaxation, the cat’s eyes blink slowly or are half open.
This body language is communicated through the cat’s facial expressions, tail, body and coat position.
When cats become aggressive, their hindquarters rise up, their hind legs stiffen, their tail fur is fluffy, their nose points forward, and their ears flatten. Such a position indicates danger, and the cat will attack. This form of cat communication is meant to scare off the attacker and prevent the attack. It’s a warning.
A frightened, defensive cat shrinks itself and lowers its body to the ground and arches its back and leans away from the threat.
Cats can show comfort or confidence by lying on their backs and exposing their bellies. However, this can also mean that the cat is defending itself with sharp claws and teeth.
Playfulness is expressed by an open mouth without teeth.
A cat’s ears can reveal different moods. When the ears are erect, the cat is focused and alert. Relaxed ears show that the cat is calm. Flat ears happen when a cat is very aggressive or defensive.
Staring signals a threat or challenge and is a display of hierarchy with lower-level cats retreating from the gaze of a higher-level feline. This staring is often used for territorial or predation reasons.
A cat’s tail is a great communicator. For example, a tail swinging from side to side in a slow and lazy fashion show shows that the cat is relaxed. Tail twitching occurs when hunting or when the cat is irritated or displeased, and may occur before an attack, playfully or otherwise.
When playing, Kittens and younger cats raise the base of their tails high and stiffen their tails except for an upside-down U shape, indicating excitement and even hyperactivity. This tail position is also seen when chasing other cats or running alone.
A startled or frightened cat may raise the fur on its tail and back.
Grooming and other forms of affection
Cats show affection to other cats and some people by grooming, licking and kneading. When a cat purrs and sweats at the same time, it conveys affection and contentment.
A friendly greeting between cats occurs when they touch noses and sniff each other. Head butting and cheek rubbing between cats shows dominance over the subordinate cat.
A friendly greeting with a person can be seen by rubbing the face. The cat pushes its face towards the affection. “Decision” is another way cats reveal positive emotions to humans. Foot rubbing is another form of affection.
When cats rub and rub against another cat or human, they spread their scent, which is a form of territory marking.
Violent biting accompanied by growling, hissing or posing indicates aggression. Light bites show playfulness and affection, especially when combined with purring and kneading.
Another way cats use biting to communicate is mating. The male bites the female’s neck, and she lordosises, revealing that she is ready to mate.
4. It smells
Cats use their own scent to communicate with other cats. Cats spread scent glands on their face, tail, paws and lower back by rubbing and patting their heads. In addition, they use feces, urine and sprays to leave a message to other cats.
The spray marks the cat’s territory both indoors and outdoors. Leaving urine and feces is also used to mark a cat’s territory. Additionally, rubbing their scent on objects such as a fence post marks a territory.
Injecting males do the most common marking of territory. Tomcats spray not only to mark their territory, but also to let other tomcats know that nearby females are there for him to mate with.
Tomcat spray is a strongly scented marker. Sometimes females also spray.
And this is how cats communicate.
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