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Understanding your cat’s behaviour

Apr 5 2017


5 tips to help you understand your cat’s behaviour

Cats are one of the most popular pets and some of our closest companions. Their individuality not only makes them low-maintenance pets, but challenges us to read their behaviour so we can best provide for them. Unlike most people think, cats are very expressive companions. Here are some of the most common behaviours your cat is likely to exhibit, starting with how they react to their environment.


To stroke, or not to stroke; that is the question

Perhaps your cat has a favourite spot to roll on its back and expose its tummy. If so, chances are it’s feeling nice and relaxed. However, cats are very aware of their surroundings and likely to change mood at the slightest stimulus. So just because a kitty is on their back, doesn’t mean they’re inviting you to tickle them.

This is just one behaviour, but there are some more general signs of comfort or anxiety. Relaxed muscles, forward-facing ears and constricted pupils are all signs of calm. Conversely, if their muscles are tense, the body is low to the ground, and their pupils are dilated then something in the vicinity is making them feel threatened.

Speaking of their pupils…

Eyes are the window to the soul

In the animal kingdom, closing your eyes is a sign of trust. It means you’re in an environment where you can let your guard down. The next time your cat gives you an unnerving stare, only to slowly blink its eyes, slow blink back at them, because they just told you how comfortable they feel with you.

Many cats also maintain their prolonged stare while in hunting mode. When in this state of high attention, their brain is telling them to pounce at any movement. If the objects they happen to be staring at are your fingers or toes, it’s best to keep them still.


An emotional tail

Eyes aren’t the only way to get a sense of what your cat is feeling -a cat’s tail is very expressive.

A high tail without being too tense denotes confidence and familiarity. This is doubly so if your cat decides to cuddle you with their tail, as curling it around you means they are feeling in an affectionate mood.

A high, bushy tail can mean a cat is scared, especially if their back is arched or low to the ground, however it can also be a sign of excitement. Always take note of the cat’s surroundings so you can understand if the bushy tail is anxiety or excitement. Bear in mind that cats and dogs tend to tuck their tails in between their legs when they are scared.

Of course, there is one more method of communicating that is more reliable than movement, eyes and tails: speaking!


Cat got your tongue?

As helpful as body language can be, nothing tells you better that your cat is comfortable than their soft purring as they settle in your warm lap. They might even start purring beforehand, as well – a sure sign that they’re craving some of your attention- while high-pitched gurgling is the sign of a friendly kitty that wants to talk your ear off.

Growling, hissing and spitting are the common sounds of any pet that is upset, anxious, or feeling threatened, so be sure to give them some space if they sound aggressive towards you. Like a human, with a bit of space, they’re likely to calm down.


No-one knows your pet like you

These are most common traits and what they mean, but every cat has their own way of communicating. The top piece of advice we can offer is that cats are each special in their own way, including their behavioural quirks.

No-one knows your cat better than you, so the best way to read your kitty is to spend time with them, play with them and learn what gets them excited and what makes them anxious.

Ultimately, it’s learning to love and understand your cat for their individual nature that creates the strongest bond between you both.

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