Understanding Your Cat 101: Body Language, Vocalization

You hear your cat yawning and spinning, you see it stroking your legs and walking with its tail high.

The cat has a variety of ways to communicate – through sound, body language and facial expressions, it tries to convey its message.

Do you know what the cat wants to tell you?

Why is the cat moaning?

The cat’s most familiar sound is “meow”, but it can mean a lot depending on how the cat moans. Cats moan mainly in their communication with humans. Cats communicate with each other with scents and body language. So when the cat moans, it often means: “See me – give me attention” and then the moaning may sound different depending on what the cat wants you to do.

  • When the cat moans at the door, it often means “let me out”.
  • A cat that walks around the kitchen and moans all the time probably says “the food is late!”
  • A praying yawn can mean: “you have not forgotten that I will have food” or “shall we not go to bed soon?”
  • If the cat moans anxiously, it may mean that they want help, for example if you sit on a branch and do not dare to climb down.

If you know your cat well, you will soon learn to understand what the cat’s different howls mean. With several cats in the family, you soon learn to distinguish the voices of the different cats from each other. Some cats communicate through small-minded, barely audible howls. Others can express the same things by yelling loudly and a lot. They also quickly learn what works for us humans to react the way they want.

Why does the cat spin?

When your cat spins, it shows a sense of security and well-being, it is the cat’s clearest way of saying that it is feeling well.

If the cat is sick or stressed, spinning can also mean that it wants to be at peace. When the cat directs its spinning towards another cat that is dominant, it is a signal that it wants to be together.

A lone cat does not spin but it is always a way to communicate. You may have noticed how a cat lying alone and sleeping in a room is completely silent (if it does not snore). When the cat realizes that you have entered the room and it has company, it starts spinning.

What signs does the cat’s tail give?

Cats have lots of sounds they use, in addition to howling and spinning, they can coo, growl, hiss or even scream. In addition to all the sounds, they communicate a lot with body language. The cat’s tail gives us many signals about what the cat wants to say.

  • The cat that walks with a high tail says: “Hey, here I come!” The higher the cat carries its tail, the more interested the cat is in you.
  • The cat’s tail hangs, slightly bent: Then it feels safe and relaxed.
  • The cat keeps its tail straight out and it is bubbly: Then the cat is ready to attack.
  • When the tail strikes back and forth, it is often a sign that the cat can not decide – should I stay or run away, should I go for a seizure or not? A cat waving a raised tail is probably thinking of attacking.

How do I learn what the cat wants?

The cat also communicates with its eyes, ears and facial expressions.

When you spend time with your cat and are attentive, you pretty soon learn exactly what it wants to say.

Some people say that cats can be insidious because they change their moods so quickly.

They go in an instant from cuddling to biting your hand. But it is quite certain that the cat has sent a lot of more or less subtle signals to announce that the cuddle time is over. The more time you spend with your cat, the easier it will be to perceive the signals.

The contact with the cat is best built when it is a kitten, but you can also build trust with an adult cat. Patience, sensitivity and a lot of love so you can build a relationship where not only do you understand the cat but it also learns to interpret you.

Read more about checking the cat’s health status.

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