Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Most cat owners can tell what their cat is saying. No, they didn’t learn to speak Cat in order to understand what “meow, merrow, meow” means. These cat owners simply know how to read their cat’s body language.
Familiarity with your cat is an important aspect of the cat-owner relationship. Through a lot of contact, the two of you learn various aspects of each other’s behavior. For example, think of those times you sit down to relax with a favorite book. The cat knows what to do next. It will sit down on top of your favorite book and demand to be petted!
Through habit and repetition, your cat will learn where things are in the house. It can then cue you when it needs those things. If you always keep her food in the same cabinet, the cat knows that, when hungry, the food is in that particular cabinet. Your cat relies on you to open the door and pour the food into the bowl. That is why a consistent pattern of body language comes next.
The cat will meow while possibly sitting in front of the cabinet. It may also rub your legs when you’re standing in front of its food source. The meow may also intensify.
An indoor/outdoor cat will give cues when it wants to go outside. The cat may run up to you and then back to the door you normally use. It may also simply sit and stare at the door, seemingly waiting for it to magically open up into the freedom of the outdoors. Some cats may even rise up on their hind legs while pawing at the doorknob as if they’re trying to open it themselves.
Cat body language can also be subtle, but don’t worry – there are cues that can help you discover what he or she’s trying to say. The biggest clue is a deviation from routine.
Perhaps your cat is always at the foot of your bed when the alarm clock goes off in the morning. One morning, however, you notice he or she’s not there. After further investigation, you see the feline resting underneath the bed or coffee table. You note it’s odd, but don’t think much of it. Then the realization hits that this is not the cat’s normal routine.
A cat’s routine is very important. Cats have normal routines and schedules, including such behaviors as going from the foot of your bed to her dish, jumping up onto her favorite windowsill to watch the traffic go by, etc. When a cat doesn’t do what seems normal, that is the first sign of something gone awry – a subtle clue many pet owners initially miss.
Body language is specific to your particular cat and is something you observe over time. You know your cat best. Who else can figure out what the feline wants? By watching for cues, you can figure out what he or she needs, as well.