What is Your Cat Trying to Tell You? How to Decode Your Cat’s Behavior

Every cat owner knows the look. The one where your cat just sits and stares at you like he wants to tell you something. Unfortunately, we’re not telepathic, and we don’t speak cat. So, how do we react? Usually with a pat on the head and some baby talk telling them how cute they are. In an effort to make sense of what our cats seem to be willing us to understand, without the benefit of verbal communication, we’ve done some research into cat behavior. Here’s what we found out.

1.      Purring doesn’t automatically equal contentment.

Although purring does often signal happiness and contentment, it can mean other things, too. Sometimes it can signal nervousness or pain. It’s a bit like when a human smiles… sometimes it means we’re happy, but it can also mean we are uneasy or a host of other emotions. Try to consider your cat’s body language to figure out what he’s really trying to tell you.

2.      Pay attention to your cat’s meows.

When a kitten is young, it meows at its mother when it needs something. Perhaps the kitten is cold, hungry, or simply feeling lonely. As cats get older, they rarely use meowing as a form of communication with other cats. So, when your cat meows at you, most likely he needs or wants something… like food, water, or simply attention.

3.      Cat’s aren’t usually as hungry as they act like they are.

Cats are great actors. They are very dramatic when it comes to food, and they are great at making us humans think they’re starving to death. More than half of the cats in the United States are overweight, and that can lead to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and sometimes even cancer. Even though your cat probably is trying to communicate his desire for food in most cases, it’s much better for him if you stick to your guns and only feed him the amount of food recommended by your vet.

4.      Cat tummies are usually off limits.

There’s something almost irresistible about a cat’s tummy. When they roll over and show you their soft bellies, you just have to give them a rub. If you have a cat, you probably already know that most cats don’t react well to belly rubs at all. So, what is your cat really trying to tell you when he shows his tummy? It’s actually a sign of contentment and relaxation. Your cat is feeling very comfortable and safe in your presence.

5.      Cats need to scratch.

While it may seem like your spiteful cat is set on ruining your couch by using it as a scratching post, that’ really not his intent. For cats, scratching is actually necessary. It removes the dead, outer layer of their claws, marks their territory with their scent (they have scent glands right in their paws), and they enjoy a good stretch, too. Sometimes they even just scratch and stretch when they’re excited. Provide your cat with a scratching post to give them an appropriate place for this natural behavior.

The mysteries of cat behavior are many, but once you learn a little bit about why they do certain things, you can usually get a pretty good idea of what your cat is trying to tell you.