If Our Pets Could Talk
By Jackie Kellum
Cats actually do ‘ talk,’ we just have a hard time figuring out what they are saying. Feral cats living in colonies, usually are non-verbal. When a cat lives with a human they will talk in varying degrees. Cat brains have many similar brain structures as people, including areas involving emotions. Cats do show love by cuddling, rubbing their head on those they do love and vocalizing their affection. Research has shown that cats are sensitive to human moods. They are less likely to approach strangers or those expressing sadness. They are more likely to approach people who describe themselves as feeling happy or extroverted.
Cats love to be petted, but they have their limits. If you do not recognize the signals telling you to stop petting, like tail flickering, ears pointing backward , shifting body position or cessation of purring, the next ‘stop petting me’ communication will come in the form of a scratch or bite.
Cats have the habit, if they like you, of pointing their butt in your direction. Take this as a compliment. There’s a simple reason for this. He is not ‘mooning’ you, or being insulting. He’s actually displaying immense trust in you. Since a cat is an animal that is both a predator and prey, he wants to position himself in the safest possible place. If he turns his back on you and he settles down, he’s showing that he trusts you. This behavior also indicates he’s watching the environment for the protection of both of you.
Don’t take offense when your cat scratches like he is trying to bury his food. He is not saying: “Gee, I hate this food.” It is a primitive behavior. Cats are hunters and when they do not complete eating their meal, they try to cover it. The purpose is two-fold. This pawing at the floor and food is an attempt to cover the food so as to not attract any predators. It also prevents potential prey from being alerted to the fact that a predator is in the vicinity. Even an indoor cat who has never gone outside to hunt retains this survival instinctive behavior.
Have you noticed that your cat paws at his water bowl or he moves it? It really has a purpose. In the wild, cats like drinking from moving water, it indicates it is fresh. This pawing behavior lets your cat know if there is any water in the bowl and at what level the water is within the bowl, before he puts his head in the bowl.
Cats are visual hunters, relying on their senses to give them information about their environment. You are a big part of their environment, providing protection, food, shelter and companionship. Cats are body language readers. When you notice your cat is watching you, think about why she might be interested in you. Her interest may be in the way you look, your mood or expression and what you are doing. Perhaps she is using your appearance to help her decide how she should respond, or sharing with you how she feels. She may want to be sure that you are watching her in return because you share a family group bond, and it assures the social stability of your group. Take your cat’s interest as a compliment. Not every person has the captivated attention of a feline friend. If you notice her watching you, take a moment to stroke her or speak to her. If you do, she will learn that watching you is a good pastime, and you both will benefit. Be sure that you are worth watching!