How Do Cats Communicate With Each Other?

Love And Tenderness Of CatsAll animals have their own language that sets them apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, and cats are no different. Did you know that cats don’t actually meow at each other to communicate? Cats have an entirely different set of language that is represented through sound, body language, and even smell. Here, we’re going to decode the language of cats so that you can better understand what they’re saying to you and others.

Vocalization

One of the ways that cats communicate with each other is by making noises. Cats have a wide range of vocals that they can produce that can mean all kinds of things. Domestic cats tend to be much more vocal than feral cats, as feral cats are nearly silent most of the time. The only sounds that you’ll hear coming from feral cats are hisses and perhaps a purr. Vocalizations are some of the easiest ways to decode what your cats are saying to each other.

Some of the noises that cats make include:

Purring: Purring can mean two things. Either the cat is happy that is doing the purring, or they could be stressed out. Most times, a purr signifies a content kitty. However, sometimes cats revert to purring when they’re in a stressful situation, like if they’re in a fight or around another animal that they don’t like.

Trill: This is the sound that cats make when they’re on the hunt. It sounds like a little click, and can signify to other cats that there is something interesting going on and that everyone should check it out! You’ll hear your cat make this noise when they’re looking out the window at birds, or when they find a bug to hunt in the house.

Growl/Hiss: These sounds mean “danger!” Cats growl and hiss when they’re angry about something. This could be them telling other cats to back off. A cat would growl or hiss for a variety of reasons, but mainly when they’re in no mood to be played with or touched. Cats tend to reserve hissing and growling for serious situations, so make sure to keep an eye on your cats if you hear hissing.

Meow: A nice meow can mean a variety of things. It could be a greeting, a lonely sound, a warning, a sigh of contentment, an expression of hunger, and many more possibilities. The more socialized a cat is with humans, the more it will likely meow. Depending on the way that the meow sounds, you should be able to tell pretty easily what the intention of the cat’s meow is.

Body Language

Kitten PortraitsBody language is a key factor to pay attention to in order to understand the way that cats speak to each other. Cats wear their feelings on their sleeve, and you can tell if a cat is angry, happy, agitated, content, scared, or any other basic emotion through the way that they’re using their body. This appears in all cats, regardless of their upbringing. Some signals to look for include:

Ears: If the ears are relaxed and perky, the cat is doing just fine. If the cat’s ears are pinned back, a problem might be brewing. If the cat appears tense and has his/her ears back against their head, they could be saying to other cats, “stay away.” This is a clear sign of agitation and defensiveness. If a cat has their tail held high in the air, they are feeling confident and happy. If their tail is tucked in between their legs, they are acting submissive. If your cats’ tails are curled together, this means that they are buddies and all is well.

Eyes: A cat’s eyes can say a lot about how they’re feeling about who they’re with. For humans, eye contact signifies a connection and usually helps to establish trust. However, if a cat is making eye contact with another, it could mean that they are being aggressive. Direct eye contact usually makes one or both cats feel threatened, and tension can heighten. If the cat slowly bats their eyes at the other, this means that they’re comfortable and feeling friendly. Cats are very into being alert and cognizant of their surroundings, so if they close their eyes around another cat, it means that they trust them enough to not have all eyes at full attention.

Torso: An arched back combined with pinned-back ears and a puffy tail means business. A cat in this position is ready to fight and is feeling agitated and defensive. If one cat takes on this position, a fight may be in the workings. However, cats can also signify trust and happiness with their bodies. If your cat rolls over and strikes a silly position with their belly out, they are inviting attention and trust the people and cats that they’re around.

Tail: A cat’s tail can tell a lot about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. A puffy and stiff tail signifies fear and aggression. If one cat’s tail looks like this, they are showing clear signs of stress and should be watched so that no fights end up breaking out.

Scent

Did you know that a cat’s sense of smell is greater than that of most dog breeds? Cats communicate with scent and smell above all other forms of communication. Each cat has a unique blend of pheromones that tell a story of the cat’s looks, age, health, and reproductive status. Scent is the number one way that cats communicate with each other, and if you pay attention, you can see them using scent to communicate.

Cat Cats release pheromones from glands in their face and on their paws. This is why you’ll notice cats rubbing their faces on their favorite spots, on their favorite people, and on other cats. When a cat rubs their face on something, it means, “mine!” If you see your cats nuzzling each other, they are comfortable with each other and want to claim each other as friends. If you notice your cat kneading fabric or another cat, this is also a way for them to mark the surface with their own personal pheromones. Since cats are very territorial creatures, marking with scent is a common practice throughout the day for a cat.

As you can see, cats truly have their own form of communication. This cat language enables kitties to claim people, places, and things, and tell other cats how they’re feeling. Through body language, scent, and sounds, cats can let each other know what is theirs, what they want to share, and how they feel about each other. The next time that you’re watching two cats interact, try to pick up on the different cues that are a part of their body language. You might just find yourself understanding your cats better than you ever thought you could!