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How good are you at interpreting cat body language?

  
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Lola

Proud mother of- the Fab Four!
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 17, '09 6:48am PST 
There was a cat in my family from the time I was four or so, but she was not the affectionate sort, and I never really observed her carefully (I myself was busy growing up and going to school and things like that). But when I got my own brother/sister pair in 1986 (one died in 2001, one in 2004), I spent many hours watching them and analyzing their body language. Cat lovers love cats. Cats love cat lovers. But--and I speak as a bi-cultural person--we cannot always understand each other. One example is Harvey's predilection for eating my hair. He wants to groom me, tries to groom me, and gags because I don't have fur. This is cross-cultural stress.

And for another example...if you buy supermarket cat food, you will often see a very nice looking kitty on the bag, but with the pupils dilated. Twenty years ago, I would never have noticed this, but now I do. The kitty in question was obviously nervous during the photo shoot. Check my pages for Harvey and Chibi--they were not being abused in any way during the photo shoots, but they were nervous, and their pupils are dilated. I have finally come to "see" this kind of cat body language.

Cats communicate their emotions through their eyes, their ears, their tails, and through licking, etc. So, Catsters, how good have you gotten about interpreting cat body language?

Edited by author Tue Mar 17, '09 6:59am PST

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Sherlock

Me, Me, Me, Me
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 17, '09 9:09am PST 
I've gotten pretty good at 'reading' Sherlock...I've raised him from a kitten. I can tell when he is getting ready to jump up to my lap/chair or when he's going to bite! Kritter...he was raised by 3 guys and a dog! With me around on weekends. I can 'read' him sometimes...but he is alot more vocal than Sherlock (Now, if I could only hear him...) smile
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kaya skye

not fighting my- demons-we joined- forces
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 17, '09 6:20pm PST 
i can read kaya better than i can read rhymon...i can tell when kaya is about to yawn now; even the fake yawns that she'll do over and over when i'm trying to take her pictureconfused i can tell when she's about to jump, and when she's really interested in something, and usually when she's nervous. it's harder to tell when rhymon is nervous, because she goes straight from zero to sixty on the anxiety odometer. or maybe it's that she doesn't stick around and LOOK nervous, she just immediately heads for the hills. thinking
what's fun is watching them react to EACH OTHER. i can tell when one of them is looking for the other one instead of just ambling around...and i know that most likely there's going to be a kitty rumble if they're taking the trouble to seek each other out. it's just the way they are...they like to aggravate the crap out of each other. shruglaugh out loud
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Spike

Tubby tabby- love!
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 17, '09 6:46pm PST 
Sherlock--Hearing impairment makes you more sensitive to body language. I have a mild hearing impairment, have spent thirty years in a country which speaks a different language, and thus have become much more dependent on human (and cat) body language than most people. My cats are not guard dogs, but their superior sense of hearing alerts me when someone is about to ring my doorbell. In that sense, they are a kind of service animal, and I am very grateful to them for that.

Kaya Skye--As is written on his page, Spike yawns when he wants to show me that he loves me. It's a morning ritual--I wake up, prepare to heave myself out of bed, and Spike yawns. That's his signal that he loves me.
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kaya skye

not fighting my- demons-we joined- forces
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 17, '09 7:23pm PST 
so...kaya's yawning at me repeatedly to say "i love you", not to annoy/amuse me while i'm trying to take her picture? thinking
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Spike

Tubby tabby- love!
 
 
Purred: Tue Mar 17, '09 8:25pm PST 
Ah...Kaya may just have her own, personal body language. As Spike does. Figuring it out is one of the pleasures of having a cat.
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BooBoo

headed for the- light.
 
 
Purred: Wed Mar 18, '09 2:11pm PST 
BooBoo's Meowma here!
I'm actually very good at reading the body language of many animals, including cats, When I was a kid I really felt closer to animals than people, and stayed so until I was nearly 30 years old.I put it to very good use training and re-habbing horses that no one else wanted to fool with, because they were 'crazy', 'dangerous', or what have you. I've never really owned dogs, but when I visit my friends and family with dogs, they seem to gravitate to me, and will do what I ask them to. As for cats, I do very well with them unless they are totally wild.
It's not just the animal's body language that lets you communicate, it's what you project back as well. I think that because I don't care what other people think so much, animals understand my body language better than they might that of a more self concious person.
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Lola

Proud mother of- the Fab Four!
 
 
Purred: Wed Mar 18, '09 2:41pm PST 
Now that I have nine cats in my tiny Tokyo aparment (mind you, cat show friends of mine in a similar-sized apartment have seventeen), I've learned the signal for "Why isn't there food in the food bowl?" Yes, I know that I should not be free-feeding them, and that our being in Japan means that I am probably not feeding them the best foods that are available, but I'm doing the best I can. Anyway, nine cats eat like vacuum cleaners, and, as we all know, the are crepuscular, which means eating at dawn and dusk. Anyway, I woke up at three a.m. to find all nine cats either sleeping next to me (Harvey was a surprise!) or jumping around the house. Signal for new food! The food bowl was empty. Fortunately I had extra food on hand (prizes for those hideous cat show feas). But having nine cats come at you at once---is sort of scary. And yet I continue and continue to become a breeder.
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kaya skye

not fighting my- demons-we joined- forces
 
 
Purred: Wed Mar 18, '09 2:57pm PST 
weirdly, kaya has learned to understand human body language as well as me learning hers. she puts her paw on my leg when she seriously needs my attention, and if she then moves her lips without opening her jaws, i know she needs either food or water. i ask if she's hungry, and if she doesn't react, i ask if she's thirsty. she actually NODS when i ask the right question...and sure enough if she's nodded for "hungry" the food bowl is empty, and if she's nodded for "thirsty" the water fountain is empty. mildly freaky, but also COOL.

rhymon's "hungry" is more traditionally "cat"...she paces the floor beneath the feeding station and makes creaky door noises.laugh out loud
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Harvey

Has been COTD!
 
 
Purred: Wed Mar 18, '09 3:09pm PST 
BooBoo--My cat show friend who had the the third best Maine Coon, internationally, last year, says that mind control is the key (she meant that telling her cat was the Best, and would get a ribbon in every ring). What we humans communicate to our kitties is the most important thing. How do we comunicate? Cats seem to understand human language more than we think they do. Just talking to them in idiot language is better than no verbal communication.

This is a cross-cultural problem. When humans and cats want to have a good relationship, they have to read each other's body language. And cats are very, very good at reading human body language.
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