Cats definitely have a language of their own. They love to communicate and are communicating all of the time. It doesn’t take much time, if you are around your cat day in and day out, to learn what he or she is communicating to you.
Some people who like to compare cats with dogs often say that cats are hard to understand, especially when it comes to knowing what your cat is communicating. But most cat owners know their cats have plenty to say — through meows, purring, rubbing, and more. If only we could understand all that they’re trying to tell us!
Cats are definitely as expressive as dogs, or perhaps more so. Although there has been a lot more research done on canine behavior, new research on the behavior of cats is now catching up. Here’s what we know about cats’ various ways of expressing themselves.
Did you know that aside from cat mothers meowing back to their sweetly meowing kittens, cat’s don’t really meow much to each other. Surprised? Cat mothers do meow to their babies who are hungry for attention and food, but that is about it. This is really surprising to most people.
Cats communicate with each other mostly through scent, although facial expressions, touch, and body language also play a part. Vocal communications include caterwauls when mating, hissing to repel threats, and chattering when cats come across prey.
So why do cats “meow”?
Cats meow to talk to humans. That’s right; they have learned how to meow to communicate with humans, of all people……
John Bradshaw, a University of Bristol anthrozoologist and author of Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, says people think of meowing as essential cat behavior, “But it’s something they’ve learned to do to get our attention. It’s really something they’ve adopted as a way of communicating with humans.”
Cats meow to people because meows work. Your cat is dependent on you, so she quickly learns what type of vocalizations and body language get you to do what she wants. Cats are really smart to know that their sweet talk usually works to get you to do what she wants you to do. Your cat may want food, but more importantly to most cats is the good relationship between herself and her owner. She loves to feel loved and content in a trustworthy relationship with her human, knowing that she is taken well care of and that she is in a safe environment.
There are different types of meows. One meow means to be petted, another meow means she wants food right away. Some times the cat is actually thanking you and just showing you her appreciation for you. Sometimes he or she will want to go outside and will meow to go outside or mewo to be let back in.
Bradshaw claims that cats develop “a secret code of meows” between themselves and their owners “unique to that cat alone and meaning little to outsiders.” A 2003 Cornell study showed that owners could only accurately translate their own cats’ meows and not those of other cats, so it seems that there is no universal cat language.
On top of their usual meows, cats also use harsher, louder meows for demands, reprimands, or to express annoyance. These meows have a lower pitch and are not all that pleasant. Cats rarely use these meow
Press Next to see what it means when cats purr.