Friday, April 27, 2012

Cat Chat: Body Language

Last post I talked about the meaning behind your cat’s chirps and meows.  In this post I will examine how cats communicate a variety of different messages using body language.   My two cats get their whole body into the act when communicating.   

A cat that lies with its stomach and back exposed is conveying trust and comfort with you (of course if your kitty has put on a little extra weight around the middle, then this position tends to be more comfortable).  If she is lying on her back growling, then she is upset and ready to defend herself with all four sets of claws. 

Does your cat arch up its back to meet your hand when you pet her?  This is a sign that she is enjoying the contact.  Back arched and fur standing on end means she is frightened or angry.  A scared or surprised cat may puff up its fur and turn its body sideways to the apparent threat in order to appear larger. 

Touching noses or giving a “head bonk” is another friendly greeting.  Rubbing against you, the furniture, her toys, etc. is a way of marking her territory with her scent and claiming her stuff.  Kneading is something cats do when very happy.  Kittens massage their mother’s teats to make the milk flow.  Cats also paw to mark their territory.  There are scent glands on the underside of the paws which release small amount of scent onto the object being pawed. 
The tail is often used as a signaling mechanism.  An erect tail with fur flat means that the cat is alert, inquisitive and happy.  Straight up and quivering means excited and really happy.  When the tail is held low or tucked between the legs it indicates insecurity and anxiety.  Cats will twitch the tip of the tail when hunting or irritated.

Have you ever noticed times when your cat will open her mouth slightly, curl back her lips and squint her eyes while sniffing something?  This is called the Flehman response.  It is your cat’s way of gathering more information about the object she is sniffing.  The cat has an extra olfactory organ which is called the Jacobson’s organ.  It is located on the roof of the mouth, behind the front teeth and connects with the nasal cavity. By opening the mouth and inhaling, the odor is intensified allowing the cat to obtain more information about the object in question. 

1 comment:

  1. I know the some body language of dogs, but this is my first time to know that cats also has this body language. My two cats get their whole body into the act when communicating. Indeed, I want to learn the different body language of my pets and my new cats at home. Read more about: Free Pet Care