Cat Communication Tidbits
Cats are Cats are Cats
When you stop to watch how cats interact, and I mean stop and really take some time to witness their movements and vocalizations, you are let in to the world of felines that extends back to their wild counterparts. Domestication has obviously altered some of their feline motives, but overall, they retain the intuitiveness and methods of communication from days of old.
Cats certainly have an independance of mind and body. A dog is such a pleasure to have around because of their constant devotion to any owner that merits it; where, a cat can have that devotion, but will display it on it's own terms and when it feels it has the time.
The personality differences are as varied as the many breeds that have developed over time; and this, in addition to their feline ways, make them a special member of the family that should be treasured and apprectiated.
It is interesting that people use the word "meow" often when talking about cats, and in fact, cats don't even meow to each other - this is reserved for their human buddies. Now, a kitten will meow to it's mother when requesting food or attention, but adult cats do not meow to each other. It may be that they use this vocalization with humans as an extension of such requests for food and attention to their caretaker, and slight variations in the tone or punctuation can change the meaning of the request.
Adult cats mainly communicate with each other through body language, but will occasionally use vocalizations such as purrs, growls and the screams that will send chills up anyone's spine. When you hear a "caterwaul", you definitely know there is a cat in heat nearby.
A cat will emit a purr mainly when it is content but, it may also purr when tense or having a traumatic moment. Purring is acturally quite a mystery, as they have no physical means of producing such a noise.
Other sounds that our feline friends make are chattering or chirping when approaching prey, thought to be expressions of aggression or excitement; a soft humming sound when sleeping; a chirrup when greeting; and a grunt or snort when wanting attention or frustrated.
It has been noted that cats in the wild don't make near the number of vocalizations as our domestic kitties, possibly because we humans reinforce the behavior.
What Cat Tails Tell and Noses Know
Tail held high - A sign of happiness, or greeting
Tail tip twitching - hunting, angry
Tail twitching - playing, or not happy at all
Tail half raised - not too pleased
Tail held low - not happy
Tail puffed up - scared, surprised or feeling threatened. A cat will raise it's back, stand it's hair on end, and turn sideways to make itself look bigger and more intimidating.
Touching noses with other cats - a friendly greeting
Lowered head - submission
Rubbing face on owner - most likely marking territory, as they have scent glands in their cheeks. Can also be a sign of affection.
Head bump - affection
Licking - each other and owner to groom and bond
Kneading or padding - Originally used to stimulate milk production from mother while nursing, it is done as an adult when feeling contentment and affection. It can also be seen when in pain to comfort itself. Cats have scent glands on the under side of their paws and this could also be the reason for kneading so they can mark their territory, or owner.