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Nonverbal messages from cats are sometimes puzzling.
Not only because cats have been considered mysterious beings for centuries.
Perhaps it is also because it is not so easy for us humans to understand what they want to tell us with their cat language.
Cats communicate mainly in a silent language consisting of complex combinations and vowels.
Cats use a vocalization to express their emotions, such as meows, purrs, growls or fumes, and some other sounds that have special meaning.
Normally, cats do not meow very often, but domesticated cats have learned that they can communicate with humans by meowing. Scientists even assume that cats see their owners as kittens, as generally only mother cats and their kittens communicate with each other through meows.
In general, a meowing cat wants something from us – like attention or food or perhaps access to a room. It also often serves simply as a welcome.
Occasionally, a “meow” can also mean loneliness or signs of illness. Older cats tend to meow more because their senses fail or because they are afraid of not being as nimble as they were at a young age.
A long-drawn, complaining “Miauuuu” can indicate concern, anger, or objections to something. Usually this sound is often much louder to grab attention about something amiss.
If a cat is inexorably meowing, this may indicate an illness or injury. If you suspect this, then you should consider a visit to the vet.
Purring is probably the most pleasant and hypnotic cat noise. It is a quiet, rhythmic low-frequency, evenly vibrating sound that usually happens when your cat is in the best mood and enjoying its situation. Gentle strokes when she is sitting on your lap will most likely produce the purring.
One hypothesis is that purring has a strong healing effect for cats. Thus, it is assumed that by purring after activities, the feline heals itself from easier-to-heal conditions. The frequencies of the vibrations during purring range from 20 Hz to 150 Hz and it is still assumed that these frequencies promote bone growth and muscle formation.
Purring with a frequency of 25 to 100 Hz corresponds to established healing frequencies in human therapeutic treatment procedures. Bones react to frequencies of between 25 to 50 Hz, with skin and soft tissues to about 100 Hz, researchers have found out.
This also seems to be the reason that cats purr when dozing off, which is in fact a form of self-repair. Since cats have adapted to save energy through long periods of sleep and rest, purring may allow stimulation of bones and muscles via low-energy mechanism without expanding a lot of energy while resting.
And not only cats’ benefit from it, people can also benefit. Petting a cat has long been considered a stress relief. Also, the frequencies of purring are good for humans. For example, studies have shown that owning a cat can reduce the risk of stroke or heart disease by a third.
Sometimes it is obvious when your cat winds around your feet, looking at their food bowl and purring. She wants to show you that she wants something to eat.
Hissing in cats can have several reasons. Normally a cat hisses to show its contempt for anything or anyone, but there are other causes.
Behavioral changes always give cat owners a cause for concern, so you must include the hissing in any case when it comes to the health of the cat to be able to react quickly.
Normally, a cat does not mind if you pick it up or even hold it, but when it starts to hiss, it could be an indication that it is in pain.
Sudden behavioral changes in your cat are always a telltale sign of pain, discomfort, or disease. So, if an otherwise happy and satisfied cat suddenly starts to hiss, then that can be a warning sign that something is wrong with it. Diseases such as thyroid over-functioning or nervous system disorders could be the cause.
If this happens more often, you should take your cat to the vet and have it thoroughly examined to get to the bottom of the problem.
Aggression Leading to Hissing
Aggression in a cat can take many forms and lead to hissing. Here are some detailed examples of aggression:
- Fear-induced aggression: Your cat may feel threatened by new people, noises, or other changes in the household.
- Redirected aggression: For example, if you are disturbing your cat when it is in territorial mode and another cat is watching outside.
- Antisocial aggression: Cats that have not been properly socialized as kittens may be afraid of humans or other cats and therefore hiss.
- Petting-induced aggression: If a cat is cuddled and caressed too much, it can become too much and interrupts you with a hiss.
- Aggression between two cats: Often this is associated with uncastrated cats, wherein in reality every adult cat with another cat in the household can start fighting the other cat for territorial reasons.
You can of course help your cat if she starts to hiss and cannot suffer anything at all. We know that cats are inherently territorial beings, and if they do not like anything, it is an intrusion into their territory and their privacy.
So, you should always respect your cat's freedom and if she retires to a nap, you should not disturb her. Most cats do not like it when you wake them up from sleep. Hissing or scratching are usually a sign that you have crossed a border with the cat.
When a cat growls, it is usually a warning that goes with a certain posture and often with the hair snarled. The eyes are focused and the body goes tense.
Cats do this sometimes when they want to have their rest and want to warn their owner not to enter further in their personal space. Often the growling is preceded by a hiss or follows.
As with hissing, growling can also be a matter of anxiety to make itself bigger and more threatening.
If cats are very irritated, they usually start to growl. This can increase if they then also reveal their teeth and hiss several times.
For you, as a cat owner, it is best not to annoy your cat in such a state and leave it alone. They usually calm down quite quickly.
Cats also try to show their dominance through their growling, which is mainly due to their innate territorial sense.
However, it may also be that your cat is in physical pain. Like a long-drawn meow, which can indicate pain, a cat can also growl. Injuries or illnesses can cause the growl when someone tries to approach or touch the cat. If this is the case, you should have your cat checked with your veterinarian.
Signals and Signs
Licking of Other Cats or Humans
Cats not only care for themselves by licking their fur for hours, but also do so with other beings. When your cat licks you, it shows you an intimate affection and mixes its fragrance with yours. This makes your cat feel safe and relaxed and builds up the relationship.
We can often tell when we approach a cat that it is just sitting and closing its eyes slowly and just blinking at you. This is a sign that she trusts you that everything is good and feels good. Cat researchers compare this to a kiss that is reciprocated. You can try to blink at her as well, giving her the same feeling back.
A typical behavior of cats is rubbing the head against objects, humans, or other cats.
Cats have scented glands that excrete pheromones. They are located on the mouth, chin, cheeks, neck, and ears. Now, when a cat rubs its head against an object, it leaves a smell. Usually, the height of the object determines which part of the head the cat uses. Sometimes they are protruding corners, edges of a table, even objects such as a book or a box.
When they rub against something or someone, they store this scent which sticks. When a cat meows, the message lasts for a moment. But when it leaves pheromones, the scent continues to communicate, even when the cat leaves the room.
In a cat colony, the cats mark themselves as members of a group by rubbing their heads together. It is a form of communication and acceptance. When cats perform this transfer to humans, they mix their fragrances with ours and demand our acceptance. If a cat does not like a human being, it probably would not rub against him.
Tail Posture and Gestures
If your cat is quite quiet and peaceful, then the tail posture remains loose and the ears are placed quite naturally upwards.
If she is interested in something in her environment, the ears turn forward, the tail pointing upwards. This is also a sign if she wants something from you, e.g. wanting something to eat or you should follow her.
If the tail moves up and down quickly, it means that your cat may be irritated or anxious and could most likely develop an aggression.
When the tail moves slowly from one side to the other, they are usually focused on an object, such as a fly or a cat toy. Just before she starts to rush for something, you can usually observe these movements.
Cat Hump with Stowed Fur
When cats feel threatened, she makes a cat hump, probably to look bigger and increase its sense of security.