Nov 4 2009

Kitty Communication

Are You Listening to Me?

Are You Listening to Me?

I recently heard that 73% of pet owners believe their pet can truly understand what they are saying. While I talk to my pets constantly, and they move their cute little heads from side to side as if they completely understand what I am saying to them, I wish I could truly understand what they are trying to tell me.  So I did a little research to get some answers!

Speak!
Some people feel pretty silly talking to their kitties, while others have no problems doing it in front of others.  Cats do receive information from these conversations: comfort, a sense of security and even praise.

Listen
You can get information too!  The more cats are talked to the more they will “talk” back to you.  You can learn a lot from their vast vocabulary of meows, chirps and purrs.  You will learn when its time to get up, when there is someone at the door, and when its time to eat.  You can also learn when your kitty is feeling sick or scared.  Not all conversation is urgent, sometimes that meow from across the room is simply to remind you they see you.

Paw language
You can learn a lot about what your cat is thinking or wants by their reaction to things around them. When I speak to Boo (my 10 year old calico) she twitches her ears to let me know she is catching every word. Does your cat ever arch their back to meet your hand when you pet him?  This means your kitty is enjoying contact with you and usually wants more.  If your cat shrinks or ducks your touch, well this means they have more important things to do and maybe later.  If your cat stops and hunkers down low to the ground, this means they are feeling uneasy and scared.  My cat likes to stand up on her hind legs and stretch up and I know this means she wants me to pick her up.  When a cat has their hair raised on their back and their tail is puffed this means they were startled and on the defense. Most every cat owner knows that a quick thrashing tail means a shift in the mood and watch out!

Be Paws-itive
Kittens are so adorable but they can be very mischievous!  Undesirable behavior can easily be corrected with a gentle, firm tone and a demonstration of the right way to do things.  Always give praise for good behavior, like using the scratching post and litter box.

Older cats can be a little more challenging but it can be done!  A lot of patience and kindness can go a long way to help your cat learn the rules.  I find that a spray bottle filled with water works well to dissuade scratching the furniture.   The key is to catch them in the act so they associate the behavior with the experience of gently being sprayed with water.  Then give your cat the scratching post to let them know what they should be using, instead of your favorite couch.  Again, paw-sitive praise goes a long way.

Watch the signals!
If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box this might mean they are feeling ill, or perhaps the litter box needs to be cleaned.  There is probably a good reason for the behavior.  Tootie (our eleven-year-old tuxedo kitty), stopped using the litter box and starting squatting in the laundry room.  I watched her go in and noticed that nothing was really coming out.  I took her to the vet and she had a bladder infection. Cats will associate the litter box with pain they feel and stop using the litter box.  This is what Tootie was doing.  As soon as she started her medicine she began using the litter box again.

Other things that could be stressing your cat have to do with your behavior.  If you are under a lot of stress, feeling ill or have changed your routine, your cat will react to these things.   Cats’ behavior can alter with any change in their routine or environment.  If the behavior persists, be sure to check with your vet to rule out any medical reasons. If the vet doesn’t find any medical reasons, use the Internet to find chat rooms with other pet owners who may be experiencing the same behaviors.

Every cat is unique but there is a common cat code of communication, a set of signals to help you better understand your cat.  Take the time to have some cat chat.  Once you start, you will learn new things about your kitty.

Written by Trish Stinger
Web Marketing Manager at Wayside Waifs


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