Cats communicated with their owners and other cats through body posture, facial expressions and vocalization. Some behavior is instinctive and other is learned. We are even able to train our cats similar to dogs and rewards go a long way. It is important to keep in mind that cats have minds of their own and many times will only cooperate when they are in the mood.

Cats never mask their feelings and are always open and honest with us.

Cat’s Body Language

The main purpose of your cat’s body language is really to communicate with other cats. You can take these signals and use to understand and communicate with your kitten or cat.

• Tail Position-Will indicate what mood they are in

Raised Tail-Happy
Swishing Tail-Annoyed
Lowered Tail-Unhappy
Horizontal Tail-Stressed or unsure

• Hissing-When your cat hisses he is feeling threatened

• Vocalizing-Your cat will emit different pitches of sound based upon their moods. High pitched wail for distress, low growl for “stay away” and purring for contentment

• Kneading-When a kitten performs this they are looking for mother’s milk. In an adult cat, they are secure and content.

• Nose Touching-This is a common greeting among cats who are friendly with one another. This is their way of gathering information about one another through scent. Take this as a compliment if you cat does this to you.

• Rolling over onto their back-This is common when a cat is being submissive. It’s their way of backing down of a confrontation with another cat. When they do this around their owners, it is a way of saying “you’re the boss and I trust you”

• Face Grimace-Your cat is detecting subtle odors or smells and is checking it out. The lips are curled back, the nose is wrinkled and the mouth is open for breathing. They are using the special organ in the roof of their mouth to detect scents.

• Ears-When threatened or angry your cat will flatten his ears. To send an invitation to play, they will pull them down and back up again.

• Eyes-Dilated pupils indicate that your cat is angry, excited, or frightened. He will also be blinking rapidly. Once everything is back to a normal state, his pupils will not be dilated and blinking will slow down. Prior to a confrontation or hunt, your cat will have a fixed stare and will not blink.

• Body Posture-A fluffed up tail and arched back are signs that your cat is afraid. If your cat is stalking, his body will be close to the ground and tail flat.

• Signaling with feces or urination in inappropriate spots-This is to let you know that he is there and wants more attention from you. It can also indicate that you have brought an unwanted visitor into his territory and want them out. This can happen many times when the owner introduces a new spouse into the household.

• Legg Rubbing-When your cat is rubbing your leg, he is saying that he is please to see you and marking you as his property. It signals affection and acceptance.

Aggression and Fighting

While cats tend to avoid fighting, sometimes it is the only way that they can remain the dominant cat within their territory. Kittens will play fight with siblings to practice these skills for hunting and self defense. These are the natural inbred instincts.

Some of the signs of aggression include:

• Body posture-tail lowered, back arched reading to pounce
• Vocalization-low growling or hissing

If your cat is an indoor outdoor cat, fights usually occur at night. To avoid injuries, responsible owners should keep their cats indoor at night.

Common Behavioral Problems

In order to train your cat not to do certain behaviors, you first must understand why they do it in the first place. Some problems can be resolved rather quickly, others take time and patience.

Typical Problems:

Because scratching is a natural way of marking territory or trimming their claws, best solution is to provide a scratching post. Encourage him to use it by placing it next to where they are already scratching. Rub some catnip on the post to make it inviting. Cover any furniture with plastic or aluminum foil until the transfer has occurred to the post.

Some cats that were not socialized at kittens can bite while being petted. Take it slow and let your cat come and go upon your lap until he feels secure. May take time and some cats never become lap cats. If your cat is biting you, the minute they start blow a small puff of air in their face to stop behavior.

Over grooming
When a cat is stressed they tend to groom over and over again. Distract him with play and try to make him feel more secure. If this type of behavior persists, a vet may be able to prescribe a tranquilizer to help cope.

Cats tend to see new pet additions to the household as rivals for their attention. They will snarl and hiss at the new addition to make them feel unwanted. The best way to solve this is to slowly introduce the new pet into the family. Separate your cat from the new pet and limit their contact. Gradually introduce them to one another. You can place your new pet in a small cage within your cat’s favorite spot a few times a day until they are used to one another. Always maintain separate feeding and litter boxes if you have two cats. If you new pet is a kitten, your older cat will accept and may even take on the roll of protector.

Stealing Food
To avoid this behavior, don’t leave food unattended. If you catch him in the act, a load noise or water spray should deter this in the future.

Territory Marking (Spraying and Soiling)
Although these are natural behaviors, it can cause annoyance to cat owners. This is the way cats make claim to their territories and send the message to others to “keep out”.

To discourage Spraying and Soiling, clean the area thoroughly and do not use products with chlorine or ammonia. These two products have a strong pungent scent like urine. Use sheets or plastic over the area that has been soiled until your cat goes back to its litter box. Feed your cat in this area for a couple of days to discourage the behavior. Cats, like dogs, do not like to soil close to where they eat. If this behavior persists, consult your vet for possible medical indications.

There are four ways in which a cat does this:

Spraying Urine
A cat will stand stiffly with tail erect and send a stream of urine over the object they want to mark as either their own or send a message to stay away.

“Fixed” cats tend not to spray as often as unaltered cats. And males always spray more than females.

This may indicate that your cat is ill or constipated. He also may not like the brand of litter you are using and wish to send a message. It can also indicate stress over a situation.

Scratch Marks

Rubbing the side of their head on corners or walls

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