When it comes to writing, I have a multitude of ideas spiraling through my brain like an angry tornado. When tasked with finding a subject to research and write about, those ideas seemed to instantly vanish. My mind went from a notebook full of ideas to a blank canvas. After spending a good portion of time staring at the blank word document, I realized that my inspiration had been staring at me for almost as long as I had been staring at the bare page.
My cat, Lucy watches me with her big yellow eyes, waiting for a scratch on the head or a couple of light pats on the butt. She began to grow impatient as I tried hard not to notice her and stay focused on my work. It wasn’t until she crawled up onto my computer’s keyboard and insisted that I pet her, that I began to wonder what exactly goes through a cat’s mind. After at least an hour or more of writer’s block, I finally had my topic.
So, without further delay, I will begin my journey into the mind of a cat by searching “cat behavior” in Google. I quickly realize that this is not going to be an easy subject on which to find reputable information. The first site that jumps out at me is the Humane Society’s webpage, so that is where I start my research.
The Humane society’s website is extremely informative about the behavior of cats. So finally after quite a long while I can start my list of cat behavior and finish the assignment at hand. Here are a list of ten common actions and behaviors displayed by my cat, and what they’re supposed to indicate.
10) Rubbing: I don’t know about anyone else, but my cat really loves to rub her muzzle on me (and my computer screen…) and pretty much anything with which she interacts. I’ve always associated these nuzzling actions as a sign of affection, but according to The Humane Society, it’s more about claiming what’s hers. A cat will nuzzle people and objects to mark them with her scent. This let’s other cats and animals in the area know that she has laid claim to that person or object. So, while a cat’s nuzzling does indicate affection to an extent, it’s mostly about claiming what’s hers.
9) Kneading: One of the most common behaviors that both of my cats have shown is kneading. At any given time throughout the day, my cats will lay in my lap and eventually begin to knead my clothes with their paws. This behavior is learned when they are kittens. Kittens knead their mother’s breasts to increase milk flow. According to the Humane Society, this is a sign that your cat is extremely happy and content. Although, while she may be content and happy, her claws kneading into the bare skin of my leg has just the opposite effect on me.
8) Yawning: Something my cat does quite frequently is squint her eyes, fold back her ears, open her mouth extremely wide and yawn. Or at least that’s what I’ve always thought she was doing. Apparently, cats have an extra olfactory organ called a Jacobson organ. These scent glands are located inside the cat’s mouth just behind her top teeth. According to the Humane Society, when a cat performs these actions, she is actually gathering more information about the area or objects around her. These Jacobson organs work by intensifying the odor of the object in which the cat is showing interest.
I am beginning to feel like the humane society’s website is not enough for this assignment, so I will be going back to google and taking another look around for a website that is reputable and informative. I am going to change my search terms from “cat behavior” to “How cats communicate” Hopefully I will find more information about a cat’s body language, verbal communication and mannerisms.
7) Blinking: It’s been a long day at work and you’ve finally arrived home. You open the door to find your feline companion waiting patiently, staring intently at the door. As you walk in, the two of you make eye contact and your cat slowly closes her eyes a couple of times. This is not because her eyes are dry or due to normal blinking that may occur. When a cat shuts her eyes around another cat or person, according to WebMD, this indicates a bond of intense trust. In the cat world, maintaining eye contact for too long is a sign of aggression. People who enjoy the company of a feline friend are not afraid to look them in the eyes, and that makes a cat uncomfortable. This is why they seem to be drawn to the people who don’t like cats, because these people usually try to avoid looking at the cat.
6) Tail position: According to the multiple sources, one of the most effective ways to understand what your cat is feeling, is by noting the position of her tail. A cat whose tail is sticking straight up is indicating that she’s in a friendly mood and wouldn’t mind interacting with you. If the cat’s tail is sticking straight up but crooks at the top, she’s still friendly, but is also being cautious. If you’ve ever seen a cat lying down and beating her tail against the floor, then you know this means she’s angry or agitated about something and that you should probably leave her to her thoughts. Finally, if the cat’s tail is bent downward, this is a defensive position and your cat is indicating that she feels threatened.
5) Purring: If you’re anything like me, I always assumed that my cat purred when she was happy, showing affection or content. According to WebMD, this may not be the case in all instances. Cats use their purr to indicate other emotions as well. It’s true that a cat will purr when she’s content or happy, but sometimes cats purr to indicate that they’re hungry, this purr is usually accompanied by a verbal meow. Mother cats purr to let their kittens know they’re with them. Kittens are born deaf and blind and the vibration of the mother’s purr helps the kitten find her and also provides a calming comfort to the kitten. Lastly, a cat may be purring because she’s scared or in pain. Cat’s will purr at these times to try and comfort themselves, the approximate equivalent to a human doing deep breathing exercises. According to WebMD the vibration of a cat’s purr may help lessen swelling and pain, build muscles and may even help heal broken bones.
4) Sharpening claws: While many people believe that cats scratch at their scratching posts (or walls, table legs, chairs, sofas or anything else that’s in reach) to sharpen their claws, this isn’t always the case. Yes, in some instances they’re scratching to remove the dead outer layer of their claws making them sharper. However, what you may not know is that cats have scent glands in their paws and may be marking their territory both visually and through smell. Finally, your cat may be scratching at a certain spot for no other reason than that it’s a nice place to stretch her legs after a long nap.
3) Delivering dead animals: One thing that my wonderful feline friend does that I really wish she wouldn’t do, is bring home dead animals. Field mice, moles, birds, rabbits and squirrels, my cat has brought me many of each. Does this mean that my precious Lucy is a cold hearted, blood thirsty killing machine? The answer is an easy, no. Cats are instinctual hunters and it’s in their nature to stalk prey, but why then does she deliver the dead or injured animal to my door (and in some cases my bedroom if she slips in unnoticed)? In the wild, cats regularly bring their kittens dead or injured animals to help them practice eating and hunting. According to LiveScience.com spayed domesticated cats are more likely to bring their human these kinds of gifts. This behavior, though gross to us, is a sure sign that your cat has accepted you as part of her family and these gifts are her way of making sure that you are fed. So the next time your kitty brings you a present, maybe say thank you before disposing of it.
2) Ear position: Another good indication as to what your feline friend may be thinking, is the way she’s holding her ears. A cat’s ear position can tell you quite a bit about how she’s feeling. If a cat’s ears are facing forward, she’s relaxed and maybe feeling playful. If a cat has her ears pinned back against her head… don’t bother her, she’s telling you that she’s either irritated, or feeling threatened. If you see a cat with its ears sticking straight up, this is an indication that she’s found something extremely interesting and it has gotten her full attention.
1) Verbal Cues: A common myth about cats is that they only developed a meow to communicate with their humans. Although this may sound like a really cool and interesting factoid, evidence indicates that this is not necessarily true. While, yes, cats meow at us for many different reasons and in many different ways, they do use meows to communicate with each other as well. Cats meow when they’re hungry, hurt or just because they’re bored. There’s no one right reason that your cat is meowing, but coupling the attention getting meow with her body language is a good indication of what her needs are at the time.
Links to the website in which I found my information: