Compared to the many other cats I’ve met, our cats are very talkative.
Most of the time we can figure out what our cats are saying, but there are those times where we just don’t have a clue as to what is going on.
Do you run into a communication breakdown with your cat? Wouldn’t you really like to know what they’re saying? I know I would.
I’m always telling myself, boy, if they could only talk. Well, as it turns out they do talk to us in their own cat way!
Here’s a handy guide we put together to help you interact better with your cat. We also included pictures of our cats doing some of the things mentioned in the guide. We hope it will help you understand your cat better and avoid any miss-communication.
A Guide to your Cats Body Language and Sounds
21 Types of Cat Behavior
Although there may be more types of cat behavior than are listed here, this is a good list to start with. If you know of any cat behaviors we missed, leave them in the comments and we’ll add them to the list.
1. Arched back with raised fur
With a kitten it usually means let’s play! With an adult cat they’re telling you they want to be left alone or that something has got them spooked. If there is also a deep growl, stiff movement and solid eye contact they most definitely want to be by themselves. So just walk away.
It can also be a defensive move and sense that something is not right.
2. Ears turned back
If your cats ears are turned back and their stance is rock steady they’re unsure of what to do, analyzing their situation and planning their next move. If they are low to the ground then check your curtains or sofa as they’re, more than likely, guilty of some bad behavior.
3. Ears pointed up
Something has gotten your cats’ full attention and interest if their ears are sitting straight up. It could be anything from a sound, movement or another cat.
4. Exposed tummy
If your cat rolls on her back and shows her tummy to you it’s a sign of complete trust.
It is no small gesture and is the utmost in trust. Plus your cat is extremely comfortable with the surroundings. They are very relaxed. A great deal of trust has been established as cats normally will protect their stomach.
The message is pretty clear when your cat hisses. Cats will hiss when they’re backed into a tight spot, they need some space or they’re very unhappy. Stay away from a hissing cat.
6. Kneading with front paws
Our cats do this all the time. It’s usually a comforting thing they like to do that has been carried over from their kitten years. There may be other reasons, unknown to us, as to why they do this. Generally it’s a good thing.
7. Lying on your newspaper or book
Your cat feels comfortable and feels in complete control of the situation.
8. Laying down, starring and not moving
Your cat is waiting for the right moment to attack something. Watch their eyes. The pupils will enlarge just before they pounce.
Your cat is trying to get your attention.
10. Pawing at paper
Your cat wants to play or they’re trying to figure out if the paper is a new litter box. Often cats will play with paper items.
Happy, content cats will purr. Cats will purr for other reasons too. They might be waiting for something to make them happy or if it’s a deep internal purr, they could be in pain.
12. Rubbing and Purring
Your cat will cover you and the things around them with pheromones. Pheromones come from glands on your cats face and create a comforting odor for your cat. Rubbing is a natural marking behavior for all cats.
Cats will rub on walls, furniture, shoes and even things you put down on the floor for a short while. Leg rubbing is the most common and can also be a simple call for attention, you have been forgiven for abandoning it or you have been accepted as a friend.
If your cat is tearing up your house and furniture they may be in need of some attention. You can’t stop the scratching but you can provide other options for your cat. Make sure there is a scratching post available to the cat at all times.
14. Sneezing and coughing, low to ground
Your cat is working on a hairball. Wait until they are done and clean it up as soon as possible. Hairballs can cause stains on carpets and furniture.
15. Slow, sneaky low to the ground crawl
Your cat is after something, stalking its “victim”. Beware, your cat will start a full speed assault very soon.
16. Soft tiny meow
Your cat really wants attention. This is a plea for sympathy and a spot on your lap.
17. Swishing or wagging tail
If something or someone is bothering your cat they will start to whip their tail from side to side. If whatever it is doesn’t stop the cat will either run away or react aggressively.
18. Tail tucked between the legs
Something has scared your cat when this happens. Flattened ears, growling and dilated pupils can also accompany a tucked tail. Don’t try to comfort a fearful cat. They won’t want to be held. Let them get over whatever it was on their own.
19. Tail upright, normal posture
This means a happy cat with no to worries. Everything is fine in their world.
20. Twitching tail
You’ll see a cats tail twitch when it see a bird or a raccoon, etc. which get them excited as they want what they see. A cat’s tail could also twitch for predatory or territorial reasons that can cause the cat to become aggressive. In this case it’s best to leave the cat alone until it settles down.
Other times the cat may be very irritated and angry. Stop whatever you are doing to it. Don’t bother it.
Your cat is lonely or restless. It is time to play with your cat or give it some attention.
Learn more About Cat Behavior
32 Cat Sounds and Their Meanings
- Mow merowwap: I am waiting for my food.
- Maaa mawrow bra: Open this door.
- Mow RRaow row: I am lonely.
- Mow aow row mew: I am cold.
- Maaa mow ruh rowb!: Get off my tail!
- Miaowbu – Feed me.
- Meow – Pet me.
- Mrooww – I love you.
- Miioo-oo-oo – I am in love and must meet my betrothed outside beneath the hedge. Don’t wait up.
- Mrow – I feel like making noise.
- rrrow-mawww – Please, the time is come to tidy the cat box.
- rrrow-miawww – I have remedied the cat box untidiness by shoveling the contents as far out of the box as was practical.
- Miaowmiaow – Play with me.
- Miaowmioaw – Have you noticed the shortage of available cat toys in this room?
- Mmeww – I believe I have heard a burglar. If you would like to go and beat him senseless, I shall be happy to keep your spot in the bed warm.
- mioawmioaw – Since I can find nothing better to play with, I shall see what happens when I sharpen my claws on this handy piece of furniture.
- Raowwwww – I think I shall now spend time licking the most private parts of my anatomy.
- Mrowwwww – I am now recalling, with sorrow, that some of my private parts did not return with me from that visit to the vet.
- Roww-maww-roww – I am so glad to see that you have returned home with both arms full of groceries. I will now rub myself against your legs and attempt to trip you as you walk towards the kitchen.
- gakk-ak-ak – My digestive passages seem to have formed a hairball.Wherever could this have come from? I shall leave it here upon the carpeting.
- mow – Snuggling is a good idea.
- Mow – Shedding is pretty good, too.
- mowww! – I was enjoying snuggling and shedding in the warm clean laundry until you removed me so unkindly.
- mroow – I have forced my body into a tiny space in order to look cute. How am I doing?
- Miaow! Miaow! – I have discovered that, although one may be able to wedge his body through the gap behind the stove and into that little drawer filled with pots and pans, the reverse path is slightly more difficult to navigate.
- Mraakk! – Oh, small bird! Please come over here.
- ssssRoww! – I believe that I have found a woodchuck or similar small animal. I shall now act terribly brave.
- Mmmrowmmm – It is certain that the best tasting fish is one you have caught yourself.
- Mmmmmmm – If I sit in the sunshine for another hour or so, I think I shall be satisfied.
- Mreoaw – Please ask room service to send up another can of tuna fish.
- Mreeeow – Do you serve catnip with that?
- Miaooww! Mriaow! – Since you are using the can opener, I am certain that you understand the value of a well-fed and pampered cat. Please continue.
Be sure to keep this guide handy next time you need to translate a message from your cat.
If you’re interested in knowing more, try picking up a book on the subject. Here are some good ones.
Learn more About The Sounds Cats Make.