Before you can learn to talk to your cat, you need to understand how your cat talks to you. Did you know that meowing is a form of cat communication your cat reserves just for you? In nature, cats do not meow to one another past kittenhood. If your cat meows at you, he’s trying to tell you something.
And it’s not just about meow; grasping the meaning of your cat’s body language is an important part of how he communicates with you and the world around him. Gauge his mood by his body language before you start trying to talk to him.
If your cat is open to your attention and conversation, his body language will be very relaxed and inviting. His tail will be up greeting you or curled around him and still if he is lying down. His ears will be forward or slightly to the side, ready to listen. He may even be kneading or roll over to show you his tummy. If you see any tail swishing, big, black pupils, ears back or hear any growling, then he is most certainly not in the mood to entertain you right now.
If your cat is in the mood to converse with you, how do you talk to him in his language — or yours? Both, actually! I meow at my cats sometimes when they are meowing at me (and I do wonder just what I am saying to them). Seriously, the most important thing about talking to your cat is your tone of voice.
Purring to your cat can also be an effective way form of cat communication. If your cat is purring, go ahead and purr back by trilling your tongue or making a low, soft humming noise. My cats will purr louder and longer if I mimic their purring back to them. I am speaking their language, and purring is a throwback from kitten days when momma would purr to reassure them that everything was alright. I am their momma, so they love it when I purr to them. Sonny will flop down right up against me and nuzzle his nose into my cheek when I do it.
Cat hissing, too, is a throwback to cat communication from their kitten days, when momma would hiss at them to keep them in line. It basically means “Stop that right now” or “Back off,” and it works wonders if you use it sparingly.
At times, two of my boy kitties will decide to challenge one another. If I see them posturing, I’ll step between them and give one sharp hiss. This stops the fight from escalating 100 percent of the time because, again, I am speaking their language. I don’t do this all the time, though; it’s something I reserve only for extremely bad behaviors that I need to stop immediately.
Now that you know the best way to speak to your cat, it’s time to put it into daily practice. Your cat really does want to speak to you, so make an effort to talk back to him on his level the next time you hear him meow. Knowing how to chat back in a way your cat will understand will result in a much closer bond between you and a better understanding of just what it is your cat wants.
Cats are happiest when they live in a quiet and peaceful environment, free from noises like loud music, vacuum cleaners or even people shouting. Loud noises can be frightening to cats for two reasons:
So keep the music down, don’t make loud, sudden noises, and he will stay one cool cat.
Tell us: What are your tips for good cat communication? How do you speak or talk to your cats?
Thumbnail: Photography ©Maximastudio | Thinkstock.
Rita Reimers’ Cat Behavior Coaching has helped many cat owners better understand their feline friends. Visit RitaReimers.com to read her cat behavior blog or to book a cat behavior coaching session. Rita is also the CEO/owner of JustForCatsPetSitting.com. Connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter at @theCatAnalyst.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
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