You may have heard people say that cats are mysterious and unknowable creatures, but that’s not true. If you live with a cat or have access to plenty of them (like at your local animal shelter), you’ll probably quickly learn that they aren’t as inscrutable as people think.
In fact, once you know their little ways, there’s no end to the things you can discover about these wonderful animals. Cats are like any other pet when it comes to having likes and dislikes, habits and personality quirks. Keeping this in mind will make a living with your feline friend easier. Here are some tips on understanding cats better.
Cats have a reputation for being impatient and inscrutable, but they are actually just as likely to be as frustrated by your behavior as you are by theirs. You must remember that cats are not as quick-witted as humans, and they learn at their own pace.
If you want your cat to learn a new behavior, be patient and let them take the time to understand what you want. If you rush them, you will only confuse them, and the behavior won’t take.
And if the behavior is a part of their nature (like hunting or grooming), there is little you can do to change it, but you can try to keep it under control, so it doesn’t become a problem.
Pay attention to body language
Cats are expressive creatures and communicate a lot through their bodies, so if you learn to pay attention, you’ll be able to understand your kitty much better. If you don’t already know, you can use your cat’s body language to determine what they are feeling. If you know when they are relaxed, hungry, irritated, or scared, you can avoid these situations (or at least take action to make them better).
- Ears – Ears that are pointed forward mean that your cat is relaxed and happy. Ears that are pulled back are a sign of anxiety. If your cat’s ears are flattened against their head, they are angry and may attack. If they are rotated backwards, they are frightened.
- Eyes – Cats’ eyes are very expressive. Steadily fixed eyes indicate that your cat is relaxed. Squinted eyes mean that your cat is hungry. Eyes that are half-closed with a fixed stare mean that your cat is irritated. Eyes that are open wide and frantic are a sign that your cat is afraid.
- Body – A relaxed or happy cat will have their body relaxed, and their tail will be down. If a cat is scared or angry, their tail will be up. If a cat is happy, but ready to pounce, their tail will be in the neutral position.
- Mouth – A relaxed cat will have their mouth closed. An aggressive cat will have their mouth open and their teeth visible. A cat who is being affectionate will have their mouth slightly open.
Watch their behavior
Cats have a lot of behaviors that are unique to their species. If you are aware of what they are doing, you will be able to understand your kitty much better.
- Hunting – If you have a cat that hunts, you will be able to tell when they are on the prowl. Your cat will move slowly and silently, be still for long periods of time, and stare intently at one spot without blinking. If your cat is hunting, you may also notice a slight change in their scent.
- Grooming – Cats are fastidious creatures who spend a large portion of their day grooming themselves. If you notice your cat grooming themselves for longer than normal, you can assume that they are stressed.
- Spraying – If you have a male cat that is urinating outside of the litter box, you will notice that they leave large amounts of urine and that their urine has a strong smell.
- Hiding – If your cat starts to hide a lot, it can indicate that their environment may not be right for them. If your cat is hiding, you can try to figure out the cause of their anxiety and try to solve the problem.
Talk to your cat (or at least listen)
Cats are incredibly vocal animals, but owners rarely listen to what they have to say. You may be shocked at what you can learn about your cat if you take the time to listen to them.
They will often yowl or meow for a reason, and by listening to what they have to say, you can solve a lot of their problems. Cats will usually yowl if they are hungry, want to be let out or to be let in from outdoors.
If your cat is persistently meowing at you, it’s worth it to listen and see if you can figure out what they want. Some cats meow not because they have a problem but because they want attention from their owners. If you are ignoring a meowing cat, they will quickly learn to shut up as they aren’t getting what they want.
It’s better to reward good behavior with attention and correction than to ignore it because it is easier.
Combine this with other research
If you really want to understand your cat, the best thing you can do is learn. There are countless books on cat behavior and medical information, and most veterinary clinics have information online that is worth checking out.
And if you want to know about their behavior and instincts, why certain diseases affect them in certain ways, and how to care for them, reading is the best way to learn. You can also learn how to better understand your own emotions and how they are similar or different from your feline friend.
Cats are natural explorers
Cats are natural explorers and if you give them a chance, they will happily show you their world. They were once desert animals, surviving in areas where prey was scarce and water was even scarcer.
To survive in these harsh environments, cats grew to be efficient explorers and hunters. They can jump incredible heights, scale almost any surface, and squeeze through spaces that would seem impossible. On top of that, cats have excellent night vision, hearing, and sense of smell.
All of this means that cats can explore almost anywhere, find their way back, and hunt while they are there. If you want to keep your house clean, remember that cats like to hunt, explore, and chew. Keeping their environment interesting will stop them from destroying your furniture and clothing.
Cats are proud creatures
Cats are proud animals that value their independence. They do not want to be dependent on humans and will do whatever they can to avoid seeming weak or needy. If you have a sick or injured cat, you will have a hard time convincing them to let you help.
However, if you can manage to help them without them knowing you are doing so, they will usually take the help and be grateful for it. Remember that cats prefer to be independent and do things on their own terms.
If you try to help them before they ask for it, you will simply annoy them and they will push you away. However, if you can let them ask for help and then offer it, they will appreciate the gesture. Cats hold their emotions close to their chest, but they are grateful for any help they get.
Cats have been a part of human society for thousands of years. They are fascinating creatures with complex social structures, unique behaviors, and adorable quirks. If you want to understand your cat better, all you have to do is watch them and be patient.