They may be our best friends, but sometimes the lines of communication can get confused between us and our felines. What are they trying to tell us and what do their strange traits really mean?
…HAVE DIFFERENT WAYS OF DISPLAYING THEIR AFFECTION?
Cats can be very loving and affectionate animals. They display these emotions in a number of physical ways. Some that you may well have spotted include:
- Licking – This is your pet’s way of forming a social bond with you. From a young age, a cat’s mother would not only lick them as a way of grooming, but also to show warmth and care. They are replicating this action to demonstrate the same closeness they feel to you.
- Kneading – This habit again stems from kittenhood. While very young, cats will knead their mothers’ stomach to stimulate milk flow from the teats. In adult years, when they’re feeling happy and comfortable, cats tend to knead a soft item such as a throw or a cushion in the home, or perhaps whilst they are resting on your lap.
- Drooling – Drooling in cats is considered less commonplace than in dogs. However, many cat owners will attest that it’s actually quite normal. Drooling is most often a sign of relaxation and contentment.
- Headbutt – Cats have scent glands in their temples and at the corners of their mouths that they use to leave marks on objects, including you. These ‘headbumps’ are a bonding exercise, as well as a sign of their trust in you.
It goes without saying that if any of the above behaviours seem increased in your pet, such as excessive licking or constant drooling, it’s important that you seek veterinary advice because there could be an underlying health issue that needs attending to.
…MEOW SO MUCH?
A cat’s meow is their way of communicating with people. When they are kittens, typically it is to let their mother know that they’re hungry. Though as they get older, cats tend to stop meowing to each other, so this verbal sound is more likely to be telling their owners what they might want or need.
The most common reasons a cat will meow are:
- A way of saying hello to you when you wake up, or when you return home.
- To get attention from you if they want to be stroked or play.
- For food around mealtimes and when they are hungry.
- Feeling trapped and want to be let outside – or back inside.
- They are looking to reproduce or are mating.
- In later years, they could be feeling disorientated.
It’s tricky to know precisely what our pets want from us. However, if your cat’s meowing is starting to feel excessive, or they are yowling loudly throughout the night, it could hint at a medical problem. As always, the first port of call is to visit your vet and ensure there is nothing physically wrong. If they find your pet is well, they can still advise on ways to reduce instances of your feline friend meowing.
There are no scientifically proven reasons why you might find your cat eating grass occasionally. Different research studies however have made the following suggestions as to why they may like munching it:
- Grass contains extra nutrients that your cat needs in its diet, such as folic acid.
- It can help the digestive system, aiding the breakdown of non-digestible items for felines (such as fur) so they can be passed naturally.
- To alleviate stress or anxiety.
Providing that the grass your pet is eating is chemical and pesticide free, it’s actually perfectly safe, so you can let them enjoy it.
…TRY AND BITE ME?
One moment you are petting and playing with your cat, and the next they are biting you. This sudden change in behaviour can be confusing, but don’t worry – it’s experienced by many pet owners.
There are several reasons why your feline friend can change their attitude towards you in a swift moment, but don’t take it personally. Consider the following possible meanings when this next occurs:
- They’ve had enough stroking and affection from you.
- They’re just being playful, acting on their natural hunter instinct.
- In kittens, they will simply be finding their way and testing their limits.
Whilst cat biting is usually a form of play, it can sometimes go further; displaying signs of aggression. This kind of behaviour needs to be taken seriously and addressed immediately.
Note their body language (such as body posture, tail position and ears) and the current surroundings to understand what may be triggering the negative mood. Reinforce good behaviour with treats – but never by physically disciplining them, as cats do not respond to this type of action. If the aggressive behaviour continues in your pet, seek advice from your vet or a pet behaviourist.
…STARE AT ME?
Cats are curious by nature and they rely on their sense of sight for a variety of reasons.
From a hereditary perspective, they will watch for small creatures and birds to hunt. They will also be on the lookout for possible predators – even if that is next door’s cat trying to enter their garden territory.
When our feline companions stare at us, it’s as a means of communication. If you’ve caught your pet staring up at you, and observing your every move, it could well be teatime, or playtime.
…FOLLOW ME EVERYWHERE?
They follow you to the bathroom, they climb on top of you whilst you’re reading your book and they sleep on top of you, so why do cats do this?
In the eyes of your pet, it could be playtime or the moment for tickles and stroking.
Cats are curious by nature, so it could just be that they are being nosey and want to know what you are doing.
- Feeding time
Most pet owners will attest that their feline friend appears around their usual feeding time. Just be sure to stick to the daily routine, and not give into handing out extra treats.
To your pet, you are their source of safety and comfort. They may feel vulnerable when you’re elsewhere – especially if they are in a new home environment, or perhaps have had a tiff with another local cat.
- Separation Anxiety
If your pet is following you constantly from room to room, and even meowing more than usual, they could well be suffering from separation anxiety. A number of reasons can cause this, such as they have recently come from a rescue centre, or you’ve moved to a new home. If you’re concerned, you must consult your vet.
…BRING ME PRESENTS?
Many cat owners will know the feeling – the dread when you wake up in the morning to a dead treat greeting you in the hallway as you’re on your way to the kitchen to make a cup of tea, or when you’re relaxing on the sofa and you suddenly see a little tail dart across the room.
‘Why does my pet think I want this?’ we ask ourselves. Well, it goes back to the predator instinct in our beloved felines, they hope it will strengthen your bond and even make your day! So as much as you want to grimace, try not to react negatively to the (unwanted) present and thank them kindly before removing it from the home.
Many behaviours can be explained by the fact they simply enjoy being with you, but keep in mind that each pet’s behaviour might be different. No one knows your cat better than you, so only you will understand when they are trying to tell you something.