Petlife is powered by Vocal creators. You support Diane Campbell by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

Petlife is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

Cats: What They Never Say, but Make Abundantly Clear

A Cat's Body Language and What it Means

Humphry, "Sir Humps a Lot"

Cats have been human companions for centuries, but what do we really know about them and what they are trying to say?

Slow Blinking

Supposedly, from what I've read, this means they love you, but to me it looks like I am boring them to death.

Hissing

"Get away from me right now!" This is often paired with the fur on their backs sticking up and arching their backs. This body language is to make the cat look as big and intimidating as possible, therefore reinforcing the get away from me message. A lot of other animals still employ this tactic; some instincts never die. We have fight or flight, cats have looking crazy and sounding like a snake.

Head-Butting

Rosie enjoying a tummy rub

"Stroke me right now! You aren't paying me enough attention. Please touch me or I will butt you again."

Purring

Happiness, enjoyment, and contentment—the cat is enjoying what is happening and wants it to continue. Often used whilst bonding, can be accompanied by "kneading" something with their front paws (rhythmic light clawing and sometimes also nibbling) on your skin. The kneading is supposed to be an action they do whilst suckling from their mother, for massaging would encourage more milk production and makes sure the kitchen gets all the milk from that nipple. The kneading is a comforting and loving gesture that reminds them of a very needy and warm contented time in their lives.

Flicking Their Tails and Rubbing Up Against Your Legs

They like you, want your attention, and/or want to be stroked. They may want to play with you, but definitely want to be stroked.

Nuzzling

Nuzzling, similar to head-butting, but a little more subtle, this is possibly to do with which part of their body they would like you to stroke, or which hand they want you to use to stroke them. My cats have worked out if they nuzzle the device I am using, it gets my attention a lot faster as they tend to pause or close whatever I'm doing. Maybe this is what leads to so many cats napping on laptops and keyboards? Plus it's cosy and warm.

Laying on Their Back

This means that the cat is fully comfortable with you because exposing the stomach (the softest and most vulnerable part of their body) shows a lot of trust. This animal doesn't feel threatened by you in any way, if they fall asleep or roll into this position whilst asleep then you are part of their family and are trusted with their lives. Most vertebrate naturally protect the soft fleshy parts of them until they know it's safe. Also when animals attack, they often go for these soft parts or the throat; those being two very vulnerable and easily damaged and/or fatal areas of the body.

Suddenly Attacking Your Hand

They are overwhelmed with the stroking, are bored with it or don't want you to do it any longer for some reason. I find that a short sharp hissing noise encourages them to retract the claws for long enough for me to untangle myself. I have to untangle myself as the cats generally like to bear hug my hand, in order to do as much damage as possible and stop my hand escaping... suddenly realized my hand is a prey item in this scenario.

Meowing

Meowing can mean many things. This is only used to communicate with humans. They use other ways to communicate with each other.

Meowing on the other side of a locked door probably means they want in. Meowing near their food bowl again pretty obvious—they want to be fed. 

My smallest cat will begin to announce herself as soon as she comes through the flap up until she finds me. I have gotten so used to this I now respond to her with my own meows, especially as she goes up at the end so it always sounds like she is asking a question.

Bringing Offerings

My smallest cat has brought me a selection of alive, injured or dead animals including mice, birds, frogs, toads, slow worms and once a bat! Cats mouths are so full of bacteria that if they have broken the sacrifices skin, then it is best to get them dispatched to the after life ASAP. But cats, unfortunately enjoy playing with their victims. Hearing a squeaking and cat feet pattering and then a crunch in the middle of the night should have prepared me for the dead mouse in my slipper the following morning. Apparently cats do this because they feel we are unable to feed ourselves despite the fact that we feed them...

Now Reading
Cats: What They Never Say, but Make Abundantly Clear
Read Next
Why You Should Actually Support 'Kill Shelters'