Top Tips to Help you Become a Cat Whisperer!
If you have a cat as a pet, you will be familiar with a lot of their habits - but you might not know what is behind their actions.
Some can be really strange!
Others may just make PURRfect sense!
The sounds cats make
Purring - Perhaps the most well known habit is purring and we always think about it being a good thing but although cats will usually purr when they are feeling relaxed, they could also purr to self-soothe if they are feeling stressed or are even injured. Please be aware of this.
Apparently, when kittens are born their mother will purr to create a vibration to guide kittens to her nipple to nurse. Cats will also purr to socialize with other cats and communicate with their owners that they want something.
Meowing - There are said to be up to dozen different meows that cats can produce - and each can have its own meaning. In general, kittens use meows to communicate with their mothers but grown cats employ them solely to communicate with us humans. When they talk to one another, cats also use hisses, growls, squeals and other sounds.
Chirping - Not as well known as purring or meowing, there is also another common cat noise and that is chirping. If you have a cat yourself, you may well have noticed them chirping as it stares out the window at a bird or chatting to another cat. A cat’s chirp tends to mean its hunting instincts are activated or when it is excited to see someone whether it is a human or another cat. Chirping can be accompanied with twitching tail and dilated pupils.
Their endearing ways
Showing its belly - When cats expose their bellies to us, they are telling us they trust us. But if we then respond by tickling or patting that tummy, they may well respond with a batting of the paw, a light bite or scratch. They are saying to us that the action was only a form of communication, nothing more!
Wagging the tail - When a cat wags its tail, it is not a happy form of communication as it is with a dog. It can mean the opposite as a cat tail wag can be more of a warning, a sign of heightened excitement, annoyance or frustration. On the other hand, if the tip of the tail is wagging rather than the whole tail, it is often a sign your cat is ready to pounce on their favorite toy, or perhaps on your leg.
Napping - Cats certainly spend a lot of their time napping or sleeping. It is a genetic thing from when cats had to conserve energy to go hunting. While a domestic cat no longer needs to hunt, it is still inbuilt. And with a basal temperature a couple of degrees at least higher than a human's, it is not surprising that cats will always find a sunny spot or warm surface to nap on.
Licking humans - You might wonder why your cat will sometimes give you a lick with their rough tongue? This is to show care and affection in the same way as a mother does when she licks her kittens to groom and show affection.
Licking itself - You will probably already know that cats lick themselves frequently. Their rough barbed tongue is their self-cleaning tool along with their paws and saliva making it unnecessary for you to bath your cat. They do benefit from a regular brushing though.
Kneading - Cat kneading is about love and comfort when a cat will knead its owner to show affection, to create a perfect comfy spot to settle in for as well as a self-soothing behavior for anxious cats.
Eating grass - While experts are not entirely sure why cats eat grass, it could be to soothe the stomach, to help with hairballs, to provide a way for them to get certain nutrients they don’t have in their diet or simply because it’s a tasty snack.
Their not so endearing ways
Up with the lark! - In addition to being active at dusk, cats are also known for being up and about at first light. When you live in a latitude where mid summer means a 4.30 sunrise, this can be a bit disconcerting. Suggestions for encouraging your cat to sleep in include installing blackout shades or blinds so the sun won’t rouse your cat or sticking to strict feeding times: once in the morning (but delayed so that getting out of bed is not associated with getting fed) and once shortly before you go to bed (to delay their hunger).
Batting things over - Some cats will bat at something on a table or a shelf until it falls off. Apparently in these cats, it can be normal cat behavior ranging from boredom to attention-seeking to hunting to simply being playful. We know that cats are curious so sometimes they like to explore by touching and pushing an object with their paws.
The scratching habit - One of the downsides of having a cat is their scratching furniture habit. You have to realise that for them, it is a daily manicure for their claws in the same way as we look after our nails. They have to maintain their claws in peak condition for different reasons. One is for marking their territory. There are scent glands on their paws that release odor to mark objects as their own. Other reasons include releasing energy or excitement - and just having fun. The solution is to give them something more suitable to scratch on. Rub the surface with a little catnip and reward with a treat when they use it.
Bringing in live or dead animals (or toys) - Cats will frequently suddenly appear making all sorts of weird noises and carrying an object in their mouth. Fingers crossed it will be a favorite toy but it could be dead or live bugs, rodents or birds. While we might not appreciate it, such an offering is being presented to us as a gift!
When not using the litterbox properly can be a warning - Cats are well known for being clean and are wired from kittenhood to “cover” their pee and poop. If they mess inside the house instead of using the litterbox, it is a sign that something isn’t quite right. It could be something as simple as not liking the location of the box, the type of litter used or that it is too dirty. It could be a medical issue such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). Behavioral issues can be another reason.
And to end...
In an earlier post, we share tips on how to keep your cats safe from harm. Here is some advice on how your pets can absorb toxic products while we also need to be aware of how heat can affect your pets.
Nancy Huggins, Laurel, MD.Humane Society of the United States: “Outdoor Cats: Frequently Asked Questions.”
ASPCA: “Your Cat – Indoors or Out.”
Chris Miller; DVM, co-owner, Atlas District Veterinary Hospital, Washington DC.
Ariel Mosenco DVM, DACVIM, associate professor of internal medicine, University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School of Medicine.