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Cat behavior – Read his tail movements, whispers, odors and more

When deciding to get a cat, whether it´s buying or adopting one, you should previously inform yourself about cat behavior, knowing the meaning of the different signals of body language, learning to identify their emotions and what they want to communicate. This will be very important in order to have a good relationship with your pet. I invite you to read the following article which will help in clarifying these concepts, in addition to getting you started in the exciting world of the cat.

The fact that animals don´t possess a language similar to the human being´s doesn´t mean they can´t communicate their feelings and needs. It´s a mistake to believe that animals don´t feel and that this is some exclusive privilege of the human race. This has led to many situations of abuse and injustice because they are perceived as objects without feelings and worthless. The cat has the same basic emotions as humans: fear, anger, happiness, well-being, depression, and affection.

Next, we´re going to analyze the three basic types of languages used by the cat: sonorous, corporal, and via smell.

Sonorous language

– Whispers: among them are the purr and the guttural (relative to the throat) noise they use to greet us. These sounds usually express comfort and are issued with their mouths closed. Kittens start to purr a few days old and the mother does that too while lactating, possibly as a form of reassurance. Purring also occurs during courtship and mating, when they are happy, and also in stressful situations. It´s a voluntary response by the cat to express his emotions.

– Forced sounds: these occur when the cat is facing an emotionally charged situation. They are issued with an open mouth and among them are the hiss, the snort and the growl.

  • Hissing in cats is characterized by abrupt air expelling through the mouth accompanied by a sound. Generally they do this when they`re angry or defensive, communicating that they just want to be alone.
  • The snort means the cat feels threatened, and therefore should be considered as a warning signal. The cat strongly expels air, much like the hiss, but the sound is sharper and more explosive.

  • The growl is also an expression of dissatisfaction and warns us that we may get assaulted. This growl is similar to the ones dog do.

As you can see, all these three sounds express negative emotions.

cat behavior - sonorous behavior

Vocal sounds

The most characteristic sound is the meow, which is made opening and closing the mouth, letting air in and out. When we hear a cat meowing he may be communicating that he needs something, like food or water. When the meow is short, this may be a symptom of pain in the body.

Language by odor

Odors emitted by the cat have a very clear purpose: putting boundaries in relationships. The cat may keep away other cats by his odor, although he may also suggest an approach (rut). When the cat sharpens his claws and scratches armchairs he´s marking his territory with the odor secreted by the glands located between his fingers.

Apart from these messages of sebaceous glands, other very effective markings are done with feces and urine. This type of message is used mainly to delimit his territory.

Body language

Positions used by cats are intended to express their mood. Also involved are some positions of his ears and head. Here´s two of them:

  • Pricked ears indicate he´s attentive and alert. When frightened, he will stick its ears to the head (in backward shape). But ears angled forward are a sign of discomfort.

  • When feeling threatened, his hair will bristle, the body will arch and he´ll issue a meow.



The tail

But definitely, the most significant code in communicating their emotions is the tail:

  • A lifted tail is a sign of a friendly cat, with attentive ears and relaxed mustaches. Other signals of friendliness are purring, rubbing himself and brushing his head against the body of a person.

cat with lifted tail

  • An erect tail with rhythmic undulations expresses pleasure.

erect tail

  • When lifted with curved movements means that something attracted his attention.
  • lifted tail

     When adopting a curved shape is indicative of great anger.

  • adopting a curved shape

  • A bristled tail means he´s scared, and between his legs shows submission.

bristled tail