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5 Methods My Cats Use to Say “I’m Busy!”

When cats are doing important cat business, they use tail, eyes, and mouth to say "Back off!"

Angie Bailey  |  Mar 23rd 2016


My cats can be the most social of butterflies, but all the flitting has to be on their terms. I know I’m not reporting anything new here, but kitties aren’t especially keen on taking direction from anyone but themselves. This means when they’re busy doing cat things, they want to be left alone. If they decide to change their mind and interact with us, they’ll let us know — otherwise they have no qualms in showing us they’re occupied. “Occupied” encompasses engagement in a multitude of tasks, including “staring at walls” and “watching dead moths trapped in light fixtures.” Important business, people.

Kitties use a variety of methods to demonstrate their irritation with our disturbing their significant activities, but some are quite universal. Two of my cats are generally consistent in the ways they hang their “I’m Busy — Come Back Later” signs. Here are five of them. I’m certain you can relate to at least all of them.

1. Snappy “biscuit-making”


My Cosmo gets serious when he’s “making biscuits.” He looks like he has slipped into a deep meditative state as his paws rhythmically knead a blanket, cat bed, jacket, or other type of squishy object. Most of the time, the kneading is accompanied by random hip thrusts. It’s like he’s having some kind of mystical tantric sex moment … well, as much as a neutered cat can have a mystical tantric sex moment. If I try to pet him while he’s otherwise occupied, he responds with an annoyed chirpy snap, as demonstrated in the video. I suppose if I were having mystical tantric sex, I wouldn’t want to be bothered either.

2. “Mrrr!”

"Go away kid, you bother me."

“Go away kid, you bother me.”

There’s this sound my cats make when they’re obviously irritated with me. It goes something like, “Mrrr!” You know that one? Sometimes the response happens with a closed mouth, and other times they open wide to fuss at me. I find the closed-mouth one hilarious, but I know if I continue prodding, I’ll be one step closer to a swat-to-the-face or rabbit-kick-to-the-neck. I do not wish to be on the receiving end of either of those moves.

I wish there were some kind of online translator where I could input “Mrrr!” and see a human equivalent. I’m thinking it’d be something like “Go away kid, you bother me.” Also, my cat might sound just like W.C. Fields.

3. Cocked ears

Cock-a-doodle-DON'T

Cock-a-doodle-DON’T

One or two cocked ears are clearly comparable to a busy signal. Cats with these ears want us to go away and not come back unless we’re are holding something food-related in our annoying little hands. Then they want to be our best friends. Fickle felines! What are we gonna do with them?

4. Flicking tail

A tail of annoyance.

A tail of annoyance.

A flicking tail is an early warning sign. When we see that thumpity-thump of the ol’ cat tail, the message is apparent: “Can’t you see I’m engaged in something incredibly serious?” Usually “serious” means sleeping. The tail is frequently accompanied by the cocked ears, and followed by occasional “Mrrr!” Sometimes they skip the vocals and flee the scene, hoping we don’t follow them. Annoying humans! What are they gonna do with us?

5. The “WTH?” eyes

Volumes!

Volumes!

That’s exactly what those eyes are conveying. Go ahead, agree with me because you know it’s the truth. If you have a cat whose eyes communicate in a fouler fashion, the “H” might be replaced with an “F.” My Phoebe is definitely an “F” kind of girl. Those narrowed eyes tell us in no uncertain terms that we’re a giant bother, and maybe a bit of a bore. If the eyes speak volumes, cats have a whole library up in there.

How does your cat let you know he or she is busy? Tell us in the comments!