Source by: Wikihow

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Scientists have discovered that cats have developed an elaborate communication system with hundreds of vocalizations to tell humans what they want or need. Read on to find out not only how cats communicate vocally, but how you can communicate with them so that they understand you too.


  1. Listen to your cat.
    If you watch what your cat is doing when he/she meows, you may be able to distinguish which meows are associated with which requests (or protests). Some common meows can include:

    • Short meow: Standard greetings
    • Multiple meows: Excited greetings
    • Mid-pitch meow: Plea for something like food, or water
    • Drawn-out mrrroooow: A demand for something
    • Low pitch MRRRooooowww: A complaint, or displeasure or fight
    • Lower than mid pitch MEEOOOOOOwww: Begging, for something such as food.
    • High-pitch RRRROWW!: Anger, pain, or being fearful
    • Chatter (rapid teeth-chattering): Excitement, frustration
    • Chirrup (a cross between a meow and a purr with rising inflection): Friendly greeting sound, often used by a mother cat to call to her kittens
    • Purr: Invites close contact or attention
    • Hiss: A serious sign of aggression. if unhappy, scared or fighting
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    Watch your cat.
    Since cats are more ”fluent” in body language, certain gestures will accompany vocalizations to reinforce their message.

    • Tail straight up with a curl at the end: Happy
    • Tail twitching: Excited or anxious
    • Fur on tail sticking up: Very excited
    • Tail vibrating: Very excited and happy to see you
    • Tail fur sticks straight up while the tail curls in the shape of an N: Extreme aggression
    • Tail fur sticks straight up but the tail is held low: Aggressive or frightened
    • Tail held low and tucked under the rear: Frightened
    • Dilated pupils: Very playful or excited; it can also mean aggression or fear
    • Slowly blinking eyes: Affection, indicating the cat is comfortable with whoever might be around him or her
    • Lifting the nose and tilting the head back slightly: ”I acknowledge you.” Cats sitting in windows may greet you in this manner as you walk by
    • Rubbing against you: This means your cat is marking you as his or her own
    • Wet nose ”kiss”: An affectionate gesture when the cat taps his or her wet nose to you
    • Ears back: Fear, anxiety, or in a very playful mood; also used when sniffing something they want to know more about
    • Tongue flicks out slightly and licks lower lip: Worried, apprehensive
    • Rubbing head, flank and tail against a person or animal: Greeting ritual
    • Head-butting: Friendliness, affection
    • Face sniffing: Confirming identity
    • Kneading: A cat will rhythmically knead with his or her paws, alternating between the right and left feet, as a sign of happiness, contentment, or playfulness; it means your cat knows and trusts you
    • Licking: The ultimate sign of trust. Your cat may consider you to be a part of her family, like a mother cleaning her kittens. It might just be that you have something tasty in your hand though.
    • Tries to eat your hair: Your cat is probably trying to ”groom” you. This means your cat really loves you and trusts you
    • Staring into your eyes: Indicates that your cat trusts you.
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    Talk back to your cat.
    As already mentioned, cats are always learning how to communicate with us. The more that you communicate with your cat, the faster he or she will learn.

    • Use a slightly raised tone of voice to indicate friendliness and a lowered tone of voice to indicate displeasure or aggression.
    • Repeat the same word, sleep or bed, each time you go to bed. Eventually, your cat will begin to associate the repetitive word sound with your actions and may even get to the bedroom before you. Use the word shower consistently each time you are ready to take one, and eventually your cat may beat you to the bathroom and even curl up in the sink to wait for you.
    • If you blink slowly when making eye contact with your cat, she will usually respond by coming over to be stroked. This is seen as a very non-threatening gesture.
    • Be consistent. A common blunder many pet owners make is to say ”no” and pet the cat at the same time. This is very confusing to the cat. So for example, if you want your cat to go away, a firm ”later” and gentle push, without showing affection, will let the cat know that her presence is not desired at this time. Most cats will try two to three times to invade a person’s space, often from different directions. When saying ”Later”, be patient.
    • Develop a ”command tone” to use with your cat when he or she is doing something that you consider to be wrong. Use a voice that comes naturally to you and can be replicated easily, but that is also distinct from your everyday talking voice. If you use this voice sparingly but seriously, your cat will learn to associate the voice with the idea that he or she is displeasing you.
    • Make a quick and sharp hiss or spit sound as a ”no” command. This is similar to the sound made by his or her own kind when they say ”no.”

  4. Also your cat may make sounds of pain.
    If you step on their tail by accident the best thing to do is love on your cat and tell them sorry.


  • Siamese and other Oriental cats have been observed to be especially vocal, while some breeds of longhaired cats tend to be quieter. Of course, exceptions always exist.
  • Remember that vocalizing is generally not your cat’s preferred mode of communication. A cat’s ”first language” consists of a complex system of scent, facial expression, complex body language and touch. Cats soon realize that we don’t understand the non-verbal signals they send to each other, so they vocalize in an attempt to communicate in our language. By observing which sounds elicit which actions from us, a cat is always learning how to make requests or demands.
  • If a cat starts rolling on to his back that shows he is relaxed, or in a playful mood.
  • Cats also have their own sort of language with you. If a cat brushes up against something that you’re holding, it probably wants attention from you. If the cat completely leans over something you are interested in, it could be a sign that they either want attention or want to be interested in what you are interested in.
  • When a cat is dribbles or kneads you with its paws while you are petting it, do not be worried. They do this because they do it to their mothers as kittens and it is a sign of affection.
  • When you want to be nice or forgiving, use a soft voice.
  • If your cat is meowing at you with a somewhat high-pitched meow, while walking in a certain direction, and frequently looking back at you; follow it, because chances are that it wants something and is trying to get your attention. By following him/her, you also build trust with them.
  • If a cat starts ”attacking” your hair (licking, some small amount of chewing), she is grooming you. This shows that she considers you family. It’s rare for a cat to do this, but when she does, it means she really loves and respects you.
  • Treat your cat with love and respect, and they will become a very happy and loving companion and friend. Talk to them softly and watch how they listen. They might respond with a purr or other pleased reaction.
  • Don’t be mean to a cat or a kitten, treat them with love and tell any friends that.
  • Some cats enjoy tummy strokes, though most are wary of exposing their vulnerable underside. Overcome this fear slowly, and with patience – most cats are less protective of their chest than their belly. Stroke them a little, every day, but stop if you sense they are becoming tense. They will gradually come to trust you to stroke them. Works best if you begin when they are young.
  • Some cats will show they really love you by copying what you do. For example, try playing dead on the floor. The cat may sniff or nudge you, then play dead too.
  • Never yell at or physically discipline a cat. This only frightens and angers the cat, and is counterproductive. You can add a hard edge to your voice. The cat will pick up on that and sense unhappiness.
  • Find their good rubbing places! (Example… if she likes to be rubbed on her chin or behind her ears) use these spots during the times she willingly comes up to you and displays affection.
  • Your cat may be shy, so be gentle as to not scare him/her.
  • Call your cat by scratching something and/or patting. Cats are naturally curious and should come to you.
  • If you have a rather grumpy cat, speak softly to it and bond with it every day if you can. This can include brushing the cat, feeding it, or playing with it.
  • Resist the urge to angrily say the cat’s name when disciplining her. Say ’No’ if you mean ’No’ and leave it at that.
  • If your cat bites you with little force, it is a warning for you to leave him or her alone.
  • A cat showing his/her stomach is a sign of being content and that it trusts you. However, it can sometimes be like abusing its trust if you rub its tummy.
  • Never flick your cats nose.
  • When a cat purrs, it doesn’t always mean he/she is happy. They can be in pain, fearful, or other emotions.
  • Always feed your cat the right amount of food so it remains healthy.
  • If your cat is showing aggression simply say no, if you can, pick her up. Be cautious while handling a cat that is upset.
  • With patience, cats can be trained to respond to commands, much the same as dogs. You can even teach your cat to shake your hand.
  • Urinating, spraying, and depositing feces in a prominent spot are often a cat’s attempt to mark territory that he or she feels is being threatened by another cat or pet. It may also be an indication of urinary tract, bladder infection, or other serious health issues. If this is a problem, the cat may need to be treated, or separated from other cats. Consult your veterinarian. All cats should be spayed or neutered as soon as they are old enough to avoid behavior problems and unwanted kittens. Male cats in particular should be altered before they are sexually mature to prevent spraying from becoming ingrained.
  • Always pay attention to the cat.
  • Staring at a cat in the eye is not a sign of affection, rather, cats find it as threatening.
  • Remember, cats aren’t humans and don’t have facial expressions, so don’t judge them by their looks.
  • Watch what your cat is doing.When they move slowly, fast, or normal; this could show what your cat thinks and feels.
  • If you have a Devon Rex, make sure you play with it a lot. Devon Rexes are a very playful breed of cat.



  • Hold your cat carefully, not tightly when you pick her/him up. Holding too tightly may be seen as a sign of aggression and you can be severely scratched and hurt.
  • This is not, by any means, a complete list of cat gestures and vocalizations. The cat communication system is surprisingly complex and extends beyond the scope of this article. Consult the sources below for more details, and always pay attention to your cat. Each one is different.