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Read Your Cat's Body Language For A Clue As To What's On His Mind
How To Watch Them "Speak"
If you're a cat owner, you've certainly noticed how your cat's eyes change, not only according to the amount of light there is, but also according to the cat's state of mind at that particular moment.
You've also undoubtedly noticed how your cat's ears and tail changes, not only according to the audio signals it is receiving, but also according to the cat's state of mind at that particular moment.
If you've had your cat for some time, you've probably got scratches, perhaps even scars, that you've picked up along the way as you discovered, sometimes painfully, what your cat's eyes, ears and tails are revealing.
Also by Bob Bamberg
- How Cats And Dogs See The World
Our dogs and cats may not have the optic super powers we think they do. But some aspects of the visual abilities of animals are pretty impressive, as you'll learn from this article.
- Tails Have An Interesting Tale To Tell
It's a rudder, it's a signal flag, and it can help maintain body temperature. The under-appreciated tale is herein celebrated and given the respect it deserves.
- Why Your Cat Is Sometimes A Sourpuss
This scientific revelation busts the myth that cats are attracted to the "sweetness" of anti-freeze. Learn about your cat's sense of taste.
Cat's communicate with each other through visual signals, mostly involving the eyes, ears and tails. And even though you're an entirely different species, with a language all your own, you can clue in to your cat's state of mind and intentions by interpreting his body language.
They say English is the most difficult language to learn because of words like "there," "their," and "they're," and because we "park in driveways" and "drive on parkways." Well, cat's do something similar to us with their language.
For instance, when you present food to a hungry cat, its pupils will dilate, as they will when the cat has had quite enough of your malarkey, thank you. So, when a cat is aroused, it behooves one to determine what has aroused it.
If it's a food response, you're good to go. If it's in response to your trying to hold the cat down to give it medicine, for example, the dilated pupils are telling you that you still have a little time before the bite happens. There may be some pre-chomp hissing, as well.
So, just as a very happy cat or a very threatened cat will display greatly dilated pupils, pupils that are reduced to slits can also be a danger signal. Unless responding to light, contracted pupils usually indicate the cat is feeling dominant or aggressive.
As with dogs, prolonged eye contact is a threat gesture to cats. So, if you're like me and enjoy staring at the cat (like watching its ears respond to sounds you can't even hear), just be sure the cat isn't staring back. You'll unwittingly intimidate it.
A cat's ears always seem to be in motion, orienting on sounds that we may not even notice. This happens even during periods of all but the deepest sleep. When the cat is awake, though, those ears let the world know where the cat's coming from.
In a relaxed cat, the points of the ears will be slightly forward and outward. When the cat is on alert, the ears will be erect and the cat will be staring. If someone in the next room drops the salt shaker, one ear may rotate to that sound, but the stare won't vary.
A cat that's on the defensive will fold its ears flat back against its head. Behaviorists believe that's a way protect the ears, which often get tattered and torn during fights. But the most threatening ear posture is somewhere between erect and flat back.
When a cat is feeling very aggressive, the backs of the ears become visible to someone in front of the animal. They're not fully flattened, and they're rotated outwardly. You'll know it when you see it. Don't mess with a cat whose ears are semi-flattened and rotated.
And finally, the tail. What a chatterbox that is. A cat that is mildly irritated will flick the tip of its tail, but when the entire tail whips back and forth, watch out, an attack is imminent.
If the cat is feeling defensive, it will arch its back and bristle its tail to make it look larger and more intimidating. But, if the tail is erect with the tip softly curved, the cat is relaxed. If the tail is lowered, with the tip curved slightly, it's interested in something.
But if the tail is fully lowered, and especially if it's tucked between its hind legs, this is a defeated cat that's acting submissively.
Body language is a major factor in how animals communicate, either with each other, or with other species. A coyote knows not to mess with a skunk that has its tail raised. Too bad your dog doesn't get that.