How To Communicate With a Cat?

How To Communicate With Cat
Image: / Ulza

You are happy to have a cat at home but you are uncertain how to communicate with her effectively, especially if you are a first-time cat owner. There are effective means to reach out to your cat so read on for some insightful tips.

How to communicate with a cat?

Here are some effective ways how to communicate with your cat:

1. By reading your cat’s body language.

To establish communication with your cat, you should first start by familiarizing your cat’s body language. Here are some specific ways how to do it:

Observe your cat’s tail  

A cat’s tail has various positions and movements with accompanying meanings. Along with vocalizations, being able to understand your cat’s tail allows you to perceive her wants and needs. If a cat’s tail is straight up and with a curl at the end it may indicate happiness and if it is twitching it is anxious or excited. If your cat’s tail is sticking up and puffed it may mean she is feeling playful or threatened and if it is vibrating she is happy to see you. 

If your cat’s tail is upright and held high it means she is happy and confident but if it is straight down it means she is agitated or feeling aggressive. A tail that’s curled beneath her body means that she is nervous or submissive, if it is whipping back and forth she is fearful or angry and if it is twitching it means your cat is focused on something such as a toy or probable prey. 

Watch your cat’s eyes 

Try to observe your cat’s eyes but make sure that you are not directly staring at her without blinking as she may interpret it as a sign of aggression.  If your cat’s pupils are dilated, it may mean she is feeling playful, excited, fearful or aggressive. If she is staring at you it may mean she is comfortable around you and trusts you. If your cat is blinking back at you she may be showing her affection for you. 

Other forms of body language 

Cats also use other subtle gestures and body language along with vocalizations if they want to communicate with you. If you notice your cat lifting her nose and tilting her head slightly it may mean she is acknowledging your presence. She may lay her ears back if she feels fearful, anxious, or playful and if she flicks her tongue out slightly and licks her lower lip it may mean she is worried or apprehensive.

Identify communicative behaviors 

Watch out for other types of communicative behaviors such as when your cat consistently rubs against your feet. She may be doing this to mark you as her property. If your cat taps her nose on you it may mean she likes you and feels comfortable around you. If your cat playfully headbutts you it is an expression of affection and friendliness. 

A cat kneading with her paws may mean she is happy, contented, or feeling playful and if she is eating or licking your hair it may mean she is showing affection and trying to groom you.

By reading your cat’s body language.
Image: / Maryviolet

2. By communicating with your cat.

You can also learn how to communicate with your cat by establishing a connection with her. Here are some ways to do it:

Try to talk back to your cat

Cats are smart and inquisitive and the more you attempt to communicate with them the more likely they will be able to learn and understand you. Use a raised voice tone to indicate friendliness and a lowered tone to signify displeasure. Repeat certain words like eat, sleep or come here and your cat will most likely begin to associate the words with actions. 

Try to use nonverbal communication signals 

While cats may learn to understand words, they can also easily pick up nonverbal cues.  If you blink at your cat slowly when making eye contact she will most likely respond by approaching you. Be sure not to stare directly in her eyes as she may find it uncomfortable. If you feel that your cat wants to sit near you, use a reassuring voice and pat the space to invite your cat to come over. 

If you are busy and do not want to pet her you may give her a gentle push, say “later” and do not show affection. This will let your cat know that her presence and company are not needed during such time. Do not yell or physically discipline your cat as it will only frighten and anger her. What you can do is to harden the tone of your voice to denote unhappiness or displeasure. 

Try to deliver commands to your cat 

To give your cat some training commands, try to develop a commanding tone of voice if your cat does something wrong.  Use a voice that can be replicated yet unique compared to your normal talking voice. Try to use a quick and sharp spit sound to indicate “no” as it is like some form of warning in cat language. Patience is key when you are trying to train your cat to understand you but it can be done.

3. By listening to your cat. 

Vocalization is an integral part of the feline language but cat experts note that it is usually not a cat’s preferred mode of communication. Cats normally communicate through scents, body language, and facial expressions but eventually learn that vocalization usually elicits the most action and reaction from humans. 

Here are some helpful ways to understand a cat’s vocalization:

Observe how your cat meows 

Observe how your cat meows 
Image: / suemack

There are variations to how your cat meows and its accompanying meaning. A short meow usually means your cat is greeting and acknowledging you. Multiple meows may mean your cat is excitedly greeting you which usually happens after you have been away for a longer period. A mid-pitched meow may mean your cat is hungry or thirsty. 

A longer and drawn-out meow may mean a persistent demand for food. If your cat is meowing in a low-pitched tone it may mean she is displeased or prepared to fight while a loud and lower than mid-pitched meow may mean your cat is begging for food. 

Try to identify common vocalizations aside from meowing 

Purring is a throaty and vibrating sound that may mean your cat is craving attention or inviting close contact. It is also usually associated with contentment. A hissing cat may indicate she is feeling aggressive, unhappy, threatened, frightened and preparing to fight.

Try to observe other specialized vocalizations 

Aside from meowing, hissing, and purring, cats may also use other specialized vocalizations to convey a message to their humans. A high-pitched growl may indicate anger, pain, and fear. If your cat is chattering it may mean she is excited, anxious, or frustrated. Mother cats usually use chirrups, a cross between a meow and purr, to call their kittens while a loud and yelping “reoww” sound may indicate pain such as when you accidentally stepped on her tail.  

Final thoughts

Learning how to understand and communicate with your cat entails patience and commitment. It is meant to be a two-way process where both you and your cat may be able to figure each other out. You can learn to communicate with your cat effectively by having a clear grasp of your cat’s body language, trying to talk back to her, and by using nonverbal communication cues. Most importantly, you should also listen to and understand your cat’s vocalizations to have a clear understanding of what your cat is trying to tell you.