Speaking of Pets: What your cat is trying to tell you
Speaking of Pets
If you’ve ever been owned by a cat, you know it’s not always easy to tell what they’re feeling. But here are some tips to help you be more cat-aware.
A cat’s tail is a great clue to its mood. If your cat’s tail is flicking rapidly, it’s a signal of anger or distress, whereas a straight-up-in-the-air tail is a sign of friendliness. If it’s swishing back and forth slowly, the cat is likely trying to decide what to do next. (“Should I pounce on this toy or not?”)
And most of us know that the puffed-up tail means the cat is afraid, so approach with caution.
You may not pay much attention to the position of your cat’s ears, but they can also be an indicator of mood. Ears forward? Your kitty is happy or playful. Ears back? Watch out! This can indicate irritation or aggression. Ears straight up? Your cat is paying attention and on the alert.
Cats have more vocalizations than almost any other domestic pet, from their purrs to their meows and howls to their hisses and growls. A cat’s meow can have many different meanings, depending upon the situation. While kittens meow when they’re in need of their mother, an older cat meows for different reasons.
For instance, a long, drawn-on “meowwwww” can indicate anxiety or protest. A rapid-fire “meow-meow-meow” usually means the cat is trying to get your attention.
Some cats will give a more plaintive “mew” when they’re hungry, while others give full voice to their food demands. Many cats also meow to greet their owner — interestingly, most adult cats don’t meow to one another, just to humans.
If your cat seems to be meowing constantly or for no reason, it could indicate illness or injury, so you might want to consult with your veterinarian.
Joan Merriam lives in Northern California with her golden retriever Joey and Maine coon cat Indy. She emphasizes that she’s not a veterinarian or animal behaviorist — just an animal lover who’s been writing about pets since 2012. You can reach her at email@example.com.